The second session of the Philosophy and Film series at the Hyde Park Picture House will show Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004), directed by Michel Gondry, with a screenplay by Charlie Kaufman. Eternal Sunshine is about an unhappy estranged couple, Clementine (Kate Winslet) and Joel (Jim Carrey), who separately decide to have their tormented memories of their failed affair deleted by a professional service, Lacuna Inc. Then they accidentally meet again, not knowing who they are.
Here’s one idea. We’ve all had bad experiences, and bad memories of those experiences. They can make us feel defeated, depressed, even paralyzed. Wouldn’t we be better off without them? Here’s another idea. Our memories naturally decay. By and large, we don’t think this is a tragedy. It protects us against being entombed in the past, and leaves us free to live in the present, and to plan for the future. But if this forgetting doesn’t ruin us, and may even benefit us, then why would it be a bad idea, if we could, to take deliberate steps to erase these memories? And, if it turns out that it would be a bad idea to deliberately erase our memories, then should we try to fight against the natural processes of decay? The film obliquely explores ideas like these in a variety of ways, and from a variety of angles. Dr. Gerald Lang (University of Leeds) will be talking about them after the screening of the film.