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Je T’aime and Eternal Sunshine – When Movies Inspire Other Movies

A comparison of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and the foreign film that inspired it

I decided to compare the pairing of Je T’aime Je T’aime and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.

First and foremost I want to isolate Je T’aime Je T’aime and discuss the overall Mise-en-scene of the film.  The shots were different based on if we were in the past or present. In the present, there are many close up shots of the characters. This is important because we learn a lot of information in the present, and having non-distracting shots helps make the information cohesive. In contrast, most of the shots that took place in the past were long shots or medium close ups that allowed you to gauge the protagonist’s surroundings more. This is important because the past has a lot to do with learning about specific characters, and the longer shots allow us to view a lot of surrounding to establish a point of view on the character.

The colors were very interesting, and really added to the film. In this film, color melded with narrative to add to the artistic value of the piece. The film consisted of mostly browns, reds, and beiges in present day. This supported the film because it showed the average nature of the current period as well as the every day “normal” feeling it gave off. In contrast, when we traveled in time, the world was bright. It was very light in nature, and the colors were vibrant. There were many blues, and the world felt a lot happier to the audience. Color very much set the tone of the film. Furthermore, there were certain colors with certain memories to separate them. Also there were a few primary colors that lasted through time. In particular red popped out to me. Most of the time red was displayed through background objects: blankets, bulletin boards, tablecloths, and the cherries on pies. This red always stood out because the surrounding world was more muted, so the red really popped out. This helped make connections between the past and present, and also helped to add a sense of jarring texture to the shots.
There was also fast-paced editing within the film, especially within time travel. It used rhythmic editing very well. During the first time travel, there were a lot of quick cuts, as the main character would disappear and reappear very fast – and then the worlds would switch between the present day and the past. Then, within time travel, the film got more hectic, we were brought closer to the ending, and the pacing of the shots got faster. For example, when the protagonist shot himself, he died quickly throughout his past, showing him as someone dying over and over throughout memories.
One very interesting aspect of the film from an editing perspective, was the fact that while we were going forward in narrative, we were delving more and more into his past. This was the reason I loved both of these movies. This was very cool, and was a much better choice then a linear narrative. There is no linear concept here. Instead, the film uses editing to make this continuous stream of images display things in a way that contradicts the normal way we see things. Scientifically, this jars us, and allows us to view this film as an abnormality. Since the film tackles abnormal concepts, the lack of normality allows the audience to visually ease their way into the concepts of the film.

This same concept is how I will discuss Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. In this movie, like the movie before it, we move forward in narrative but backwards in memory. This is a beautiful way to shed light on characters and introduce them in a strong and innovative way.
The color scheme and lighting was very cold. Dream-like, with blues and lighter hues. This really added to the film because the film’s narrative took place from the cold perspective of Joel’s mind. The most prominent color was blue, and it was in almost every shot. Then, when there was something disjointed, it had a redder hue. Even Clementine’s hair switched from red to blue or blue to red depending on the situation and the mood of the moment. This was a very important aspect of the film because it added to Clementine’s character a lot. Clementine was the brightest part of any shot she was in, showing that her memory was the most important thing to Joel. Similarl to Je T’aime Je T’aime, the present day also had a darker tint. Most of the colors were earthy: Browns, blacks, etc. In contrast, the past was filled with beautiful light colors – blues, greens, yellows, etc.
The disjointed cuts were very similar to those in Je T’aime Je T’aime. As we go through Joel’s memories, we pass through with quick cuts. We get tiny highlights of Joel’s life, but not enough to reveal that much about him. This really helped with the narrative because you saw the journey as Joel saw the journey.
The editing is really beautiful within the film. My favorite shot was when Joel walked from the library into the house he was in in a previous shot. Much of the editing was like this: it cut on motion and was really smooth and beautiful. This really added to the narrative of the film because Joel was trying to follow his own memory and comprehend concepts, but lack and change of memory got in the way. Some of the most beautiful editing was when two memories would morph together or a memory would be changing. For example, when Joel and Clementine are in their last memory (the first time they met) the water is taking over the floor. Then, as they’re talking, the house is dissipating. This adds the perfect mix of the romance of the relationship as well as the distance of the memory. I think this movie has absolutely gorgeous editing that helped you fall in love with the characters.
These two films that were very similar in concept had very similar editing techniques. The differences, however, changed the tones of the movies completely. Due to Je T’aime Je T’aime‘s more yellow tones and more fast paced cuts, the film was more suspenseful and had a more science fiction feel. In contrast, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind had a more blue tone and more fading than cuts with longer scenes before cutting. This made the movie feel more romantic and have a much more human tone to it.
I loved both of these films. I discovered that watching these two films together helped me to understand both narratives more, and this very much enhanced my experience.  I plan on watching them again and again.

About Noura B (10 Articles)
I am the Batman as well as a Jedi in Training. I'm a College student with a dual degree in Management and Film. Writing background includes: Author of : When the World Turns the Wrong Way Works with Girl Be Heard to write social justice plays Actor / Writer / Director IG/Twitter : @Noura_Jost
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