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  Directed by
  Starring
  Specs
  • Widescreen 1.85:1
  • 16:9 Enhanced
  • Dual Layer (RSDL 70:41)
  Languages
  • English: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  • English: DTS 5.1 Surround
  • Commentary - English: Dolby Digital Stereo
  Subtitles
    English - Hearing Impaired
  Extras
  • Deleted scenes
  • Audio commentary - with screenwriter Charlie Kaufman and director Michel Gondry
  • 4 Featurette
  • Music video - Polyphonic Spree's
  • Behind the scenes footage

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind - Collector's Edition

Focus Features/Roadshow Entertainment . R4 . COLOR . 103 mins . M15+ . PAL

  Feature
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How happy is the blameless vestal's lot! The world forgetting, by the world forgot. Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind! Each pray'r accepted, and each wish resign'd.Alexander Pope

It was from this seemingly quite innocent, yet heavily profound quote, did the very best film of 2004 enter our theatres, and enter our hearts. It may sound sentimental, sound basic and contrived, however Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is anything but.

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Ice™ - bringing people together since creation.
From the highly creative and original screenwriter, Charlie Kaufman (Being John Malkovich, Adaptation) and intense visual director Michel Gondry (Human Nature) comes a story, quite simply, about love and relationships. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind throws a spin on the standard, formulaic romantic comedies of the past, offering a fresh and innovative method of storytelling – which is, oddly enough, through the delving into ones memory. Director Michel Gondry captures the essence of a fading memory perfectly, through the means of trick camera technique and some very simple, yet highly effective, visual effects. In interviews, and on the audio-commentary, Gondry boasts at his ability to overcome the natural trend of using computer-generated visual effects, instead drawing back to the grass-roots of visual effect with his double-sized sets and innovative cinematography.

While Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind often digresses into smaller sub-plots, the key narrative is comprised of the relationship between our two main characters, Joel (Jim Carrey, The Truman Show) and Clementine (Kate Winslet, Titanic). After year-long disorderly relationship, filled with dramatic highs and painful lows, Clementine chooses to run away from it all and erase Joel from her memory. After inadvertently being told that the erasing procedure had taken place, Joel decides to have a similar operation done and quickly contacts the lead of Lacuna Inc, Dr Mierzwiak (Tom Wilkinson), to rid himself of Clementine forever.

The nature, problems and finally the love between Joel and Clem are then presented through an interactive memory erasure – where we watch as Joel runs in and out of his memories, feverishly attempting to convince himself that what he’s doing is what’s best. However, it is only through the process of erasing all the troubles and turmoil within their relationship that Joel discovers what there was to begin with; and how deeply he loved, and still loves, Clementine. Jim Carrey will surprise and stun audiences with his fantastic ability to play a restrained and essentially very normal character! Joel Barish is the complete opposite to Ace Ventura, or any other of Carrey’s typecast characters, and his diverse acting ability truly shines throughout this film. The character of Clementine is what you’d come to expect from a standard Jim Carrey role, but instead is a woman, played by the normally very conservative Kate Winslet. Kate playing Jim’s role and Jim playing Kate’s! Sounds very confusing, but is perfectly executed.

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is a film to engage and to experience. The narrative is essentially just a medium used to convey the very real relationship between two characters. Michel Gondry adds an intensely visceral element to the film, to perfectly balance and complement a thought-provoking and profound screenplay from Charlie Kaufman. These two highly talented filmmakers have obviously worked together to produce something excellent, and we can only hope they have plans for the future.

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Wearing lab coats ensures Lacuna workers aren't accidently covered in brains.

For those who are familiar with Charlie Kaufman’s work prior to Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind will instantly recognise a number of his trademark characters or situations. The entire film is very reminiscent of his earlier work in the quirky physiological comedy, Being John Malkovich. However it seems Kaufman has toned down the level of strange, and upped the level of human. Being John Malkovich was a brilliant, original story of one unhappy and bored man finding a portal into the head of the movie star John Malkovich. This was an extremely original, humorous and entertaining screenplay that lacked the dramatic and empathetic edge of the high-quality dramas of 1999 (namely, American Beauty). Through the writing of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind Kaufman has matured and refined his methods of screenwriting into a very tight little package. Fans of Kaufman’s writing will be surprised, and excited about his new style; moving away from his highly innovative screenplays of yesterday and embracing the near-perfect screenplay of tomorrow.

Too many films in this day and age rely on overtly sentimental characters or events to gain emotional intensity and an empathetic response from its audience. The standard prescribed way of bringing your audience to tears has become rather dull, and seems to have lost all effect. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind uses characters that are very ordinary and reasonably uninspiring, thrusts them into situations of bubbling emotion and lets them go from there. You will spend half of the time watching this film feeling as if there is no hope; the process of memory erasure can’t be avoided, and Joel will not remember Clementine when he awakes in the morning. And while this is a very linear progression, the audience becomes incredibly emotionally attached to each character, constantly yearning for them to meet again and fall in love. The conclusion of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind doesn’t watch happy Joel and Clementine reunite in a sentiment-filled love affair. It ends on a poignant, thought-provoking note, letting its audience decide the fate of their relationship.

Combing impeccable acting, an original and poignant screenplay and intuitive direction and grace; Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is truly a film never to be forgotten. Similar to films from Christopher Nolan or Stanley Kubrick, Eternal Sunshine gets better and better on subsequent viewings. This is certainly a film to cherish.

  Video
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You're the doc Doc.
To complement a brilliant film, the video transfer on Roadshow’s release of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is near-perfect. Considering the grainy source, this particular transfer is extremely difficult to fault.

This particular film has one of the greatest ranges in colour that I’ve ever seen (not taking animated feature into consideration). Michel Gondry adds his personal touch to the film, resulting in an intense colour-filled experience. Luckily, these colours are presented in vivid detail and remain and well-saturated throughout the film. Sharp reds will often shine out in snow-covered scenes, and the deep orange of Kate Winslet’s hair is perfectly visualised.

Black levels remain solid and consistent throughout the entire film. Except for perhaps Roadshow’s job on the Lord of the Rings Extended Editions, this would stand as a new benchmark for black levels when authoring DVDs. If you don’t have a widescreen monitor, you won’t notice the seamless blend between the DVD and the natural blacks of the top bars.

There is a heavy amount of grain present consistently throughout, but never stands as a hindrance, and his especially present during the many scenes played out through Joel’s memory. The post-production crew have obviously inserted this grainy element, and is not a fault in the DVD transfer.

On the downside, there is a little shimmering and some aliasing in quite a few scenes. It’s only within the background, but often pops up and becomes distracting. Those who aren’t looking for it will probably not notice it (I watched this DVD with three others, and was the only to find it distracting). There are a few film artefacts that will occasionally pop up during outdoor scenes, but never present a problem.

Overall it’s a very well produced transfer.

  Audio
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Can't caption... so beautiful!
Roadshow’s initial release of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind comes packed with both DTS and Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtracks, similar to R1 and R2 releases. However, noticeable audio dropouts are to be found within the DTS soundtrack on the R2 release, and one would only presume that it would be carried over to a similar PAL R4 release here in Australia. Thankfully these audio glitches haven’t made their way to our shores.

Overseas issues aside, both DTS and Dolby soundtracks are highly engaging, clear and overall very excellent soundtracks! This film is primarily dialogue-driven, so surround use is limited, but used to great effect when needed. Jon Brion’s contemporary score fills every single channel with its various quirky notes and melodies. This is perhaps the primary difference between DTS and Dolby soundtracks – the score seems to fill the rear and LFE channels with a larger presence in the DTS mix.

Dialogue is constantly very clear and easy to hear. Jim Carrey’s mutterings fit perfectly with his character, and while soft remain very audible. During one of the opening scenes between Winslet and Carrey (aboard the train), the score deems to dominate over the dialogue – but this is a very minor issue.

For those without a DTS decoder, the Dolby soundtrack will suffice and is realistically more than adequate. However, the LFE channel seems to be used far more in the DTS soundtrack, as well as an enhanced and more fulfilling use of the score.

English (for the hearing impaired) subtitles are available, which at times deviate from the on-screen dialogue, but are relatively accurate. It’s rather a shame that simple vanilla English subtitles were omitted, as I find hearing impaired subtitles to be a little distracting at times.

  Extras
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This two-disc 'Collector's Edition' release of Eternal Sunshine comes with a great range of extras, providing fantastic, detailed insight into the production of this very visual film.

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Carrey preparing for his role in A Clockwork Orange: The Remake.

Director Michel Gondry and screenwriter Charlie Kaufman collaborate in an interesting audio commentary, discussing technical and production elements of the film. Gondry dominates the discussion, talking about different visual effects used and how the actors were to work with. Kaufman adds the occasional comment on the screenplay, but is not featured heavily throughout. Despite Kaufman’s limited input, this is an interesting and very informative commentary that’s well worth the listen. Unfortunately Michel Gondry is quite difficult to understand at times, as he carries a heavy French accent. Subtitles for this commentary are at times necessary, so it’s a shame they were omitted.

Two (brief) featurettes are presented, the first in a making-of flavour. While this is a brief making-of (11:31), it’s very interesting and contains a high level of information and input from actors and filmmakers alike. The second is a simple conversation between Michel Gondry and Jim Carrey (15:35), talking on various aspects of the filmmaking process and discussing how much they both enjoyed working together. Quite quirky at times, but interesting and entertaining.

Four deleted scenes are available to watch, but are unfortunately squashed down to a smaller aspect ratio, resulting in a distorted image. Time stamps and such also appear on the top and bottom of the scenes. It’s a shame these are presented so poorly, as they’re four very interesting scenes. A music video from Polyphonic Spree titled “Light and Day”, using different scenes from the film is also available for viewing (but is not 16:9 enhanced). Finally, an entertaining and fictional Lacuna Inc infomercial is presented, featuring Tom Wilkinson as the great doctor!

The first of the two featurettes found on disc two is ‘Inside the Mind of Michel Gondry’ (19:45). It takes us through many of the fascinating visual effects director Michel Gondry added to the film. Interviews from many different cast and crew members provide great insight into how this groundbreaking director works; as well as praising his non-conventional methods. There’s not a bad word from anyone involved, truly a testament to this great director. The second, ‘Anatomy of a Scene: Saratoga Avenue’ (17:17) pulls apart the fantastic scene where we watch Jim Carrey run up and down a suburban street, chasing Clementine as his memory dissolves. This is a great featurette, really praising the grass-roots style of filmmaking Gondry employs.

Also on disc two is a conversation between Kate Winslet and Michel Gondry (14:19), similar to the conversation found on disc one with Jim Carrey. The two of them add their thoughts into the film, reminiscing on the production, both having greatly enjoyed the experience. The final extra on disc two are yet more deleted and extended scenes (18:41), seven in total. These scenes are far more interesting than those found on disc one, and are often referenced in the audio commentary. The character of Naomi (Joel’s ex-girlfriend) is shown on screen, giving her personality and depth beyond what the film presents. Those inquisitive types would also be pleased to know an easter egg finds its way onto this disc, that is very easy to find.

All special features on disc two are presented in full-frame (4:3), Dolby Stereo and feature no subtitles (which is a pain, considering Gondry’s thick accent).

  Overall  
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"...Meet me in Montauk..."
I cannot whole heartedly recommend this film enough. For those who enjoy an innovative and original piece of cinema, you now have something to look forward to. Those growing tired of the standard romantic comedy starring Hugh Grant will welcome this with open arms. Fans of Kaufman and Gondry will be delighted.

The DVD combines a fantastic visual transfer and a great DTS soundtrack, supplemented by a great range of interesting extra features.

I’m sure that in years to come people critics and moviegoers alike will raise their hands in praise for Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.

"Can you hear me? I don't want this anymore! I want to call it off!"


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