Tuesday, August 17, 2004

We just got back from watching Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind which came highly recommended from friends and other people who watched it. I know what to expect from watching the trailers countless times and reading the reviews in different newspapers but it never dampened my drive to watch it. The title of the movie comes from a line from Alexander Pope's poem Eloisa to Abelard, which goes:
"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."
Which is really appropriate as Kirsten Dunst's character in the movie did say. The story revolves mostly around Joel Barish (Jim Carrey) who was forced to submit himself to a process involving selective memmory erasure after finidng out that his ex-girlfriend, Clementine Kruczynski (Kate Winslet), whom he loved very, very much has submitted herself to the same process earlier. Pioneered by Dr. Howard Mierzwiak (Tom Wilkinson) of the Lacuna Inc., the process involves an intricate process of mapping out the memories that would be erased and zapping them to oblivion while you sleep. Joel didn't have any problems with the process at first. In fact he liked it so much he was bragging about it to his image memory of Clementine in his dreams. But as the process had gone through the bad memories and were erasing the good ones he had a sudden change of heart. He tried reasoning with the version of Clem in his memories, dragging her to other parts of his brain not included in the mapping. But no matter where they went or how much they tried to hold on to each other, the inevitable had to happen. Even then, the whole thing raised up a lot of questions among the viewers. Are the Lacuna, Inc. patients better off feeling like a part of their lives have been cut off even without them knowing it? Are they happier with their lives? Like its inventor/s, the process is still fallible and there will still be regions of the mind that will retain bits and pieces of these memories. The answers to these questions invariably negative. Like how would you feel if you were told about a part of your life was robbed from you? Whether we like it or not, bad memories along with the good ones shape our characters. Molding us and maturing us into who we are today.

Like earlier this evening I was chatting with an old friend who has relocated to another country. I told him almost everything that's been bothering me these past weeks and in summing up these rants, I told him "I wish I had a reset button so I could start all over again from scratch." We all wish we could take back everything we've gone through and sift through all the humiliating and traumatic events. But then we'll eventually realize that it's not in erasing those memories that would make us feel better. But rather in living through them and surviving it all and realizing it's not really up to us save ourselves. We need someone outside our situation who also empathizes with our weaknesses and gives us the strength to pick up the pieces and teaches us the lessons we should be learning. We don't need any controlled brain damage to help us cope with life, simply enough what we need is for God to grant us the serenity to accept the things we cannot change, courage to change the things we can, and wisdom to know the difference. ("Serenity Prayer" attributed to Reinhold Niebuhr, 1926)

* Check out also the review in Hollywood Jesus for more insightful reactions to this great movie.

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