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10 Things You Didn’t Know About ‘Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind’

20 years later, and “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” hasn’t been remotely forgotten. Michel Gondry’s science fiction romance has, if anything, enjoyed renewed attention in 2024, thanks to the release of musician Ariana Grande’s “Eternal Sunshine” album. Grande, famously a fan of the film’s leading man Jim Carrey, referenced the film both in the album’s title song, and a music video that fully recreated the mind-wiping film’s romantic storyline for the single “We Can’t Be Friends (Wait For Your Love)”. The tributes came just weeks before the film’s March 19 anniversary, and hopefully should lead to one of the 21st-century’s greatest romance films getting even more fans.

Directed by Gondry from a screenplay by Charlie Kaufman, “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” premiered in theaters March 19, 2004, to immediate acclaim from critics. Melancholic, strange, and heartbreakingly beautiful, the film stars Carrey as Joel, an introvert who meets the spontaneous Clementine (Kate Winslet). When their relationship turns sour, Joel is heartbroken to discover that Clementine underwent an experimental procedure to erase her memories of him from her mind. In retaliation, he decides to do the same thing, going to the firm Lacuna for the procedure. Through revisiting his memories as they’re being wiped away, however, he realizes how precious his experiences with Clementine were, and tries to prevent the procedure as it’s happening.

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Especially in the early 2000s, when the Academy tended to go for much more conventional fare than it does now,  “Eternal Sunshine” wasn’t exactly the type of movie that won Oscars (that year, Best Picture went to “Million Dollar Baby.”) But the movie, despite its March release, managed two Oscar nominations: Best Actress for Winslet’s against-type performance as a messy, complicated working-class woman, and Best Original Screenplay, which it won. The film became beloved among cinephiles and has endured over the years as a beloved indie classic. Winslet has named it as one of her favorite films of her career, and it helped further establish Kaufman as one of the best screenwriters in the business, paving the way for his directorial debut four years later with “Synecdoche, New York.” 

With “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” now 20, IndieWire is taking a look back at the creation of one of the 2000s’ seminal classics. Read on for 10 things you didn’t know about “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.”

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