MM needs to take a brief mental holiday and will return on Monday when I will post (much to our good friend David Alan’s relief) my script review of both Frank Miller’s first draft and Darren Aronofsky’s final draft rewrite of Batman: Year One. Aronofsky’s riding high now with his new film, The Wrestler. What would the world have been like had he taken the reigns of Batman? Get the answer on Monday!
Here's a fabulous article I must recommend:
The Use of Color in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Of course, in the first case -- and most importantly -- the film's color schemes present to the viewer a mnemonic method for arranging the film's non-linear narrative within an intelligible order. The most immediate clue for maintaining this arrangement over the discourse of the film is to note the color of Clementine's hair at any given point. In the chronology of the couple's relationship (given in non-linearity as Joel recounts his rapidly vanishing memories), Clementine's hair color moves from green (her first time meeting Joel on the Montauk beach), to red (happy times with Joel, including the instances of her "leading" Joel around in his memory to attempt to salvage memories of her), to orange (relationship stasis and breakup), and finally, to blue (post-breakup and re-falling in love with Joel).
Notably absent within the film’s general color palette, however, is the color red. This seems a rather pointed omission, for “red” is both cognitively and culturally associated with love, romance, passion, and such qualities of a sensual nature. In what few instances, then, may the viewer notice the use of the color red –- that color so traditionally bound to notions of love and romance? Here, Gondry seems to be playing with the viewer’s expectations, forcing the viewer to search for “red” within a cinematography overwhelmingly dominated by steely blue and gray tones (the sky, the ocean, the trainyard) -- colors typically deemed “cold” and “unemotional.”
Several critical conclusions concerning the color red (and the lack of it) may then be drawn by the viewer. With the exception of Clementine’s hair, Gondry places other instances of red rather subtly within the film. The ostensible under-representation of red is perhaps most conspicuous on Valentine’s Day, as Joel awaits the train to take him to work: Only a few individuals can be seen holding red Valentine’s Day gifts, while the rest of the frame is overwhelmingly dominated, again, by steely gray/blue tones. As Joel sits on the beach with his journal later that day, however, the viewer notices a sign placed in the sand to his side. In red is written the warning, “For Safety, Swim In A Designated Area.” The color red, in addition to matters of romance, is also associated with “danger” and “warning.” Gondry, surely, must appreciate the semiotic play of this actual physical object –- the warning sign itself -- as signifier, insofar as it signifies the “dangerous waters” of love and heartbreak. The beachfront sign, then, remains doubly encoded: In an immediate sense, it states a direct warning against the literal dangers of swimming in unsafe tidal waters; at the same time, however, the posted sign becomes an extension of aquatic associations of love (for example, the adages that “there are plenty more fish in the sea,” or “if you want to learn to swim, you have to jump into the water”), and offers a well-placed caveat against the crossing of an oceanic/romantic bar.
In fact, this article comes from a new issue of The Acidemic Journal of Film & Media, which is mostly devoted to Eternal Sunshine.
Please get the word out about the new Blog-a-thon!
See you on Monday!