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On this Valentine's Day Harry ponders Kaufman's ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND!!!

This Valentine’s Day I thought that I would take some time out to write about a script filled with the essence of love. The upsides and downsides.

You’ve had a chance to see the first four Charlie Kaufman screenplays come to life, and I think I can say that we have all been impressed by what we’ve seen. I know for me, as I watch Kaufman’s career unfurl, I can say that I have never seen a screenwriter so breathlessly defy convention. In an industry of contrivances, his work is an oasis of creativity and originality.

Having just read ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND, I am absolutely convinced this script far outshines anything he has done before. To read it, is to dream of a perfect film. A film that is entertaining and funny on a surface level, but that has so much to say about love, anguish, sanity, despair, heartache, destiny and futility.

Like a brilliant Phillip K Dick unpublished manuscript given perfect screenplay treatment, I find myself… starry eyed. Here in the ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND I have found a script, that if realized as well as the film that played in my mind as my eyes poured over those magical pages… Well, all at once it could be one of the smartest science fiction films ever conceived.

Kaufman has taken the “wish” that we’ve all had when love dies between two. That “wish” that you could forget your ex-significant other. That you could forget that first kiss, forget those passionate hours and days, the conversations about the future and the past, the shared dreams, the hopes, the feel against one another, the way light bounced off their skin or clothes clung to them while walking. The sparkle in their eye, the look on their face that defined their recognition that you meant something in their life. These are sweet things, why forget them, why wish to forget them, because when love dies… when the relationship falters and trips and falls apart. Those looks are gone, the sparkle dead, the dreams become exactly that, something you wake from wishing you could recapture. The “what ifs” and the futility of trying to figure out what to do. The self-loathing, the anger, the frustration. It all crescendos into that moment where you find yourself wishing that it had never happened at all.

Why? Because it would be easier that way. You hate where you are and everything that got you to that point. Charlie Kaufman gets that, but then… he gets quite a bit more. What would happen if you and the person whom you used to love could just forget ever meeting one another. Would you meet again? What if the two of you were destined to be together? If you were soul mates?

Charlie Kaufman has written one of the greatest sheer explorations of what it is to love and to lose than has perhaps ever been written. Bold statement indeed, but nevertheless it is true for me.

The only science fiction aspect of the entire film has to do with the “miracle” of memory removal. There is a company in the future that you can go to to FORGET. Imagine how wonderful this would be. Abused as a child? Erase it. Served in the Vietnam War and scarred by the memory? Well, erase it. That’s right, disposable memories. Deliberate amnesia.

Obviously in ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND, this premise is applied to a couple played by Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet. There are other characters with their own issues and motivations, but the center and heart of the film lays with those two characters. The possibilities here for greatness are highly probable. Carrey can be heartbreaking in this film. Winslet, my god what a role, she has her best role since HEAVENLY CREATURES with this film. Kirsten Dunst’s part has the potential to be her best as well, if she rises above her work in THE VIRGIN SUICIDES, which I believe she can.

The thing that kills me is just how wonderfully new this is. I hear that Pierce Brosnan and Rene Russo are considering a remake of THE THIN MAN or Brendan Frasier signing aboard a remake of THE 10TH VICTIM or Bill Paxton taking the lead along with Ben Kingsley in a live-action feature film adaptation of THUNDERBIRDS… Meanwhile there is hope… There is Charlie Kaufman writing this masterpiece. Richard Kelly writing his DOMINO, BESSIE and KNOWING. Oh and then there is Caroline Thompson and her brilliant script for THE GREAT JOHNNY ECK. There are folks out there fighting the redundancy and the tired.

The brilliance of this script lays in its ability to constantly surprise. Once Carrey’s character decides to take his pills and go to sleep… and the technicians are there to erase his ex-girlfriend from his memory, we enter his mind (along with other storylines) and there in his memory, his dreams, we see him and Winslet as they were being erased. Like a tragically real Daffy Duck in DUCK AMUCK, his subconscious dream self is aware of what is happening and realizes… helplessly that he does not wish to lose these memories, these moments, these times. He tries desperately to fight and cling to moments, Winslet is a living character in his dreams that offers to help preserve her loving memory in his memory by hiding in times she was not a part of. He takes her on a soul bearing, heart aching revelation of self that is just brutal. The sort of tortured memories you bury so deep that you never reveal them, here, he takes that which he has loved more than anything and takes her to his most vulnerable moments, to witness his humiliation, his grief and his anguish. These moments could be great, on paper they are, but will Gondry realize them or waste them? I pray he delivers. I truly do.

I love this script. Breaking up and losing the ones you love, thought you loved and wish loved you… those memories and how we deal with the loss and absence and pain of parting… so beautifully revealed in this script. This could be a masterpiece at the end of the year. The type of film that makes you scream for joy, and hold your dear ones closer. And watch on future Valentine's Days forever more.

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone.

Readers Talkback
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  • Feb. 14, 2003, 6:17 a.m. CST

    I remember the first time I met Charlie...

    by thespius19

    He was drawing lines of chalk on the wall of my brother's house to corral ants. That was right around the time he finished writing Confessions. He's a freaking genius...and a little crazy...but most genius' are.

  • Feb. 14, 2003, 6:17 a.m. CST

    I remember the first time I met Charlie...

    by thespius19 I actually first for once?

  • Feb. 14, 2003, 6:18 a.m. CST

    remaking "The Thin Man"?

    by adorian

    Please, Dear God, do not let them remake "The Thin Man" with Brosnan and Russo...not with anybody! We need originals, not remakes.

  • Feb. 14, 2003, 6:19 a.m. CST

    Is Richard Kelly being mentioned by Harry in every article here?

    by The Handsome 12th Doctor

    Not that there's anything wrong with that. Or anything...... This Kaufman script sounds and looks like it could be interesting, like the majority of his work always does. This is the one that Kate had blue hair for, right?..... Oh, and FIRST!

  • Feb. 14, 2003, 6:32 a.m. CST

    Jim Carrey should not be allowed to act in anything again ever,

    by earthworm

    and boy did that trick get old fast.

  • Feb. 14, 2003, 6:38 a.m. CST

    After Man On The Moon

    by Silvio Dante

    I was willing to give Carrey a chance. To wipe the slate clean. Fresh start. Next thing you know his up to his armpit in cow's rectum in Me, Myself & Irene.

  • Feb. 14, 2003, 7:27 a.m. CST

    Great, Cinematic Alzheimers

    by DannyOcean01

    The entire history of cinematic love is discounted because the new hotness decided to write about love. Jesus christ.

  • Feb. 14, 2003, 7:37 a.m. CST

    I'm glad......

    by EdHairless

    ...I have Harry and Charlie Kaufman telling me exactly how I feel everytime I get dumped. It's just a movie script. Does the guy have good ideas? Yes? Original? Yes. Can he see into the hearts and minds of everyone who has ever been hurt? Highly doubt it. Besides, this movie has Jim Carrey in it--who is heading straight into Robin Williams as Patch Adams territory.

  • Feb. 14, 2003, 8:42 a.m. CST

    He's not exaggerating

    by whatwouldjossdo

    I got my hands on this script about a month ago and couldn't put it down. I read all night long, and by 5am, I put the script down and just started crying. Reading it was a rare experience, as I'm sure the movie will be.

  • Feb. 14, 2003, 9:33 a.m. CST


    by DannyOcean01

    You Yanks should save some of those tears for people who actually exist beyond a cinema screen. Like all the innocent Iraquis your retarded government plan to massacre in the coming weeks.

  • Feb. 14, 2003, 9:33 a.m. CST

    The Official Charlie Kaufman Backlash...

    by Buck_Turgidson scheduled to begin 3,2,1, now. Kaufman's scripts are the most contrived in the biz. I hate to say it (really) but he is all brilliant high-concept and mediocre execution. Seriously, watch Being John Malkovich and Adaptation (his most celebrated scripts) again and watch the wheels come off the wagon like clockwork (at about the 80 minute mark). He puts his characters in these brilliant conceits and gives them nothing (or worse yet, something stupid) to do. They are the equivalent of parlor tricks, which, while amusing, do not especially illuminate or entertain once the initial novelty wears off. He's getting feted for his concepts and not his execution.

  • Feb. 14, 2003, 10:30 a.m. CST


    by DannyOcean01

    To call someone a Troll is to be a Troll yourself n'est pa?

  • Feb. 14, 2003, 10:33 a.m. CST

    Remakes? huff.

    by TheKingInYellow

    what's that you say? a remake of the thin man? what the hell is wrong with people? now-a-days everything you see is a freaking remake. are people so desperate to make money that they will remake something. i know it's not for paying homage to anything or one. the thin man is one of my favorites and to know that there will be a remake in the works really pushes my buttons. when i learned of the truth behind the truth about charlie i was totally stunned. charade? c'mon. why remake it and why with a different name? to fool unsuspecting moviegoers into giving hollywood some money to see something that has already been done and done well, i might add. if there's anyone out there that's listening, please discourage the remake. please. let's embrace the past and not clone it for the future. by the way, where's harry getting that arrow from?

  • Feb. 14, 2003, 10:40 a.m. CST

    Lucky Pierre-the real deal

    by sutherland

    Pierre You wouldn't happen to be an englishman masquerading as a frog would you? Whilst I enjoy your chariacture of an englishman's view of the french-I somehow feel that you're about as authentic as "French's Mustard". Anyway-"bon chance" to you me old china. Most amusing. And if you really are french-to quote Edith Piaf-Je ne regrette rien.

  • Feb. 14, 2003, 10:43 a.m. CST

    So, I'll soon be able to just pay a private corporation to "forg

    by Trav McGee

    I won't have to drink? Or join the Foreign Legion? Well that changes everything, then, doesn't it. ...Might still drink, though.

  • Feb. 14, 2003, 10:45 a.m. CST

    i think

    by ZO

    harry is a little obsessed with richard kelly. he really needs to get laid.

  • Feb. 14, 2003, 11:04 a.m. CST

    fantastic script

    by j9lime

    I read it straight through in about 3 hours around a month ago. It had me literally leaping out of seat. I'm excited to see this on film. Have to say I'm a little worried about Jim Carrey as the lead. Its hard to imagine him in something that isn't a goofy comedy.

  • Feb. 14, 2003, 11:15 a.m. CST

    I'm so tired of ......

    by PantingBuffalo

    when someone pulls off something decent and it get catapulted to the level of "Film Perfection!!". "Writing Genius!!" gush gush gush. Give me a fucking break! If we were'nt bombarded with so much shit all the time from movies and from television, christ even from bad commercials that are airing at 1 mil a pop for 60 seconds, we would'nt be so ready to accept something that under normal circumstances we would say "Yeah, it was good.". Good is not great, it's not something that we should fawn over, it's good thats it. I was entertained, that's why I paid $8 to see it. Entertain me don't bullshit me. SO many fuckin' hacks gettin paid to write drivel while I'm sure so many good scripts are out there in peoples heads or pc's. Be nice to see some new blood get in the game and really put out something to get excited over, I'm tired of the Scooby Doo's, I don't care how much they make. BAH!

  • Feb. 14, 2003, 11:29 a.m. CST

    The only Dog movie....

    by PantingBuffalo

    that needs to be made is Hong Kong Fooey, But alas since Scatman died it will never work out now. Freddie... BAH! I say.

  • Feb. 14, 2003, 11:36 a.m. CST

    The best dog movie

    by earthworm

    is Digby, the Biggest Dog in the World. Brings back memories that one.

  • Feb. 14, 2003, 11:53 a.m. CST


    by Lobanhaki

    Yes, Richard Kelly very well could be mentioned in every article. And with good reason. The guy pulled off, first time through, one of the most beautiful, transcendant, hilarious, and scathingly satirical movies I've seen in a long time: Donnie Darko. It was no teen flick, like some accused it of being. No, It was a movie about fate. It was a movie about *gasp* God and religion, miracles and morality. It's not a movie for people unprepared to think, but I would say it's one of those movies that makes thinking an enjoyable part of movie-going. If you really think about it, that's not such a bad idea. Wouldn't it be much easier to relax during a film, if you knew that you think freely during the film and not spoil the fun? Besides, I believe that what Harry says is true- we need less redundancy in our film, fewer films merely acting as copies of things that worked before. That model assumes continuity of success. Truth is, though years of piling cliche on top of cliche may conceal it, the stuff that entertained us the most in the past was the stuff that successfully challenged our expectations and won.

  • Feb. 14, 2003, 12:05 p.m. CST

    You're beautiful, Harry.

    by The_10th_Muse

    This review was absolutley perfect. Poignant, thoughtful - surely you must have wept when you wrote it. Seriously. Forget these assholes who only post on here to make fun of you in an attempt to get attention. I'm not just kissing your ass for the hell of it, either. This was good, and I can't WAIT to see the movie. And to DannyOcean1 - you ignorant piece of crap - all most people are trying to do is get a LITTLE enjoyment out of something in these dark days, but stupid fucks like you have to chime in about how all of us war-mongering Americans can't wait to see people suffer and die. Fuck you. If you have a complaint about that, send it to Bush. We, as the general public, have about as much influence over the decision to go to war as the Iraqi people do over thier own fucked up government. I just love people that seem to think that 'America' is just one big mass of like-minded people. You obviously have no idea who we are, so take your ignorant comments and go to hell.

  • Feb. 14, 2003, 12:36 p.m. CST


    by Lamprey

    There's a little story by T.E.D. Klein called "S.F."--which stands for "Selective Forgetfulness." It was published in the 70's, in one of the DAW Best Horror of the Year anthologies (although it was an original story).

  • Feb. 14, 2003, 12:38 p.m. CST


    by eau hellz gnaw

    these ridiculous, self-important, long-winded bullshit reviews are the only reason i come to this site now.***i literally popped a boner when i saw "the two towers"...i held myself, rocking and crying in the corner after seeing "rules of attraction"...when i read this script i thought back to my childhood years when i used to read fanon and malcolm x.***

  • Feb. 14, 2003, 12:46 p.m. CST

    no, no, NO THIS IS BULLSHIT!!!

    by JediJustin

    Randle is trying to be me, fettastic! This is fucked up! Why would you want to be me? You don't even hold a candle to my knowledge of animation and Star Wars. Shut the Fuck up and leave me Alone!

  • Feb. 14, 2003, 12:59 p.m. CST

    now i really hate valentine's day

    by realfakelucy

    Freddie Prinze Jr. was the perfect Fred because the only name he responds to is his own and he's also c***-whipped. I can't wait for this movie. It's about the whole reason I don't (can't, won't, shouldn't?) date. I also love Jim Carrey. (So let the hate mail begin!)

  • Feb. 14, 2003, 1:01 p.m. CST

    I'll have you know Randle

    by JediJustin

    that I am a lonely man who makes rubber dicks all day and jerks off to pictures of ARIEL. I am alone. Ironically I can identify with that.

  • Feb. 14, 2003, 1:04 p.m. CST

    Don't be so hard on DannyOcean01...

    by NakedMonk

    After all he's Euro-peon, and thus has a cultural predilection to take it up the ass from despots, then beg for more. Don

  • Feb. 14, 2003, 1:37 p.m. CST


    by NakedMonk

    Will you please ban this asshole and give his address to penis-enlargement spamrs?

  • Everything he said in this review truly resonated with me. In fact I wish this article had been less poignant and heartfelt because now i'm flooded with my own unwanted images of the one that fell from my grasp. Enough public lamentation, I firmly believe Jim Carrey can burst through the glass ceiling of typecasting that people have placed above him. He's delivered past expectations in the past and dammit this might just be the role that finally recognizes his talent. Remember the scene in "Man On the Moon" when he realizes the whole cancer removal operation is just one big scam? Remember the combined look of sorrow and recognition of the irony involved? That takes true craft and ability that is sadly lacking with many actors. Happy Valentines Day folks.

  • Feb. 14, 2003, 2:12 p.m. CST


    by IamMacGuffin

    Just out of curiosity, I want you to explain YOUR take on the ending of Adaptation. For some reason, I believe some people didn't really "get it". I can see how some people can easily say that it was a hack way of ending it, but I don't think it was that simple. Please respond here in TB and let me know what your understanding of the ending was....and BTW GeorgeLoweBanned is the official RETARD of TB this week.

  • Feb. 14, 2003, 3 p.m. CST

    For a really good time...

    by SofaKingWetahded

    ...go to

  • Feb. 14, 2003, 3:13 p.m. CST

    Pierre t'es trop con!...

    by ABAR

    et Harry, you need to get laid, seriously man. (instead of being excited about a script.)

  • Feb. 14, 2003, 3:47 p.m. CST

    Harry, I have to say this:

    by FluffyUnbound

    Every time a movie comes along that taps into that "loved and lost" vein, you seem to dissolve into a puddle. I have to say, I feel for you, sir. And you know what? One day you will be over whatever it is in your own life that makes you vulnerable on this score, and on that day you will find that these films weren't all you cracked them up to be. Since this is Kaufman, it will probably at least be interesting. But it won't be profound. What will be profound is the moment of stillness you will feel when you recover. [The clear sky; the open hand.] Good luck.

  • Feb. 14, 2003, 3:50 p.m. CST

    Do your own script review

    by Fan-Freak

    Harry's review is pretty good. I concure in a lot of areas. You (AICN Talk Backers) can also read the script at and see if you agree...

  • Feb. 14, 2003, 4:06 p.m. CST


    by IamMacGuffin

    Here's my take on the end of Adaptation, and forgive me if this is exactly how YOU saw the film, and this is all just obvious to you. It's just that I've found that a few people that I have talked to about this film didn't quite see it the same way as I did. First, I'll start with the most obvious parts that everyone understood (and I'll try not to ramble on too long): the film is mutlilayered, we have Charlie's story as a writer, we Have Orlean's story as a writer, and the film itself is another layer where the other two are combined. So as Charlie struggles with the task of adpapting Orlean's work, at the same time he has to put up with his twin brother who stands for everything he hates about the "Hollywood" way of writing. He talks about not liking the idea of using "sex scenes" and "car chases" for the sake of making a film more appealing. He listens to his brother describe how he wants to use "voice over", and how he wants to put "Happy Together" by the Turtles in his own film for whatever reason. That all happens in the first two acts. By the third act, Charlie finally gives up trying to adapt, and turns to his brother for help on the script. This is where the film takes it's big turn. Once Charlie allows Donald to get involved, at that moment the film itself becomes something different. Suddenly we see all the film devices and ideas that Donald had that Charlie loathed in the first two acts coming alive in the third. Sex, drugs, car chases, voice over, even the damn Turtles song, are all there. So is the film about Charlie adpating a book, or about Charlie adapting to Hollywood?... I just thought it was easy for some people to not understand the irony of the third act and just see it as a hack job, when that was EXACTLY what Charlie was trying to do. I thought it was a brilliant way of showing the "dumbing down" of most Hollywood films. Did Charlie just give up and take the easy way out? NO. He was purposely showing us how Hollywood usually handles an adaptation in the hands of a hack (portrayed by his fake brother, Donald). Sorry if this is already understood, but I thought it was genius and by some overlooked.

  • Feb. 14, 2003, 4:30 p.m. CST


    by IamMacGuffin

    Probably, you son of a bitch rat bastard.

  • Feb. 14, 2003, 4:52 p.m. CST

    hey! pierre..

    by ABAR

    fait pas chier, et arrete de nous faire passer pour des minables. t'as vraiment rien d'autre a foutre?.

  • Feb. 14, 2003, 5:03 p.m. CST


    by IamMacGuffin

  • Feb. 14, 2003, 5:05 p.m. CST


    by IamMacGuffin

    Here is your translated message : "fact of not shitting, and arrete to make us pass for minables. have you really nothing of another A foutre?." Is that what you were trying to say?

  • Feb. 14, 2003, 6:28 p.m. CST

    Ancient Lights does not have leather patches on his jacket elbow

    by FluffyUnbound

    The only leather patches in his wardrobe are on the knees of his pants! Ba-dump-bump. Thank you, thank you. I'm here til Thursday.

  • Feb. 14, 2003, 7:08 p.m. CST


    by TomVee

    Carrey as the star will guarantee low turnout.

  • Feb. 14, 2003, 10:34 p.m. CST

    I agree with...

    by Dataset

    DannyOcean. I'm so bored with the USA. RIP Joe! Oh yeah, French hip hop is the best, because American hip hop is like black country music for black rednecks. DJ Cam rules! OK. I have to apologize for this post. There's nothing on topic in this. And I'm not bashing anyone. You all have good opinions. And Harry and the crew let us take up bandwidth, so be good to them. You don't have to agree, but it's nice to say thanks. I'm just somewhat lovestruck at the moment, and cannot help feeling 20 again. Bear with me! The cynical and jaded anathema will be on hiatus for a while. And, without coming off as a smelly, dirty hippie, stop this silly war and zip up your pants, America. We're better than this. We have enormous potential to do good. Yet we support apartheid and theocracies (sic, i know, sleepy) in the face of our own value for human rights. Israel is not our 51st state, yet they receive more cash than any of the 50. Stop this elitist religious ethnic cleansing of Palestine! I'm Jewish, and I know better than to support evil just because evil has happened to us. But now it's my religion that's to blame. Just know we're all not racist. And we're still Americans, we can resist. Movies are great, but peace is greater. I'll definately see this film. CK is a mad genius, the screenwriting equivalent of Lynches visuals. I swear I'm not trying to start shit, just think about it. If you think, and act on those thoughts, you cn change the world. It's Valentines Day and I'm in love, so allow me this burst of idealism. You may return to your regularly scheduled talkback. Sorry I got off- topic there, guys. Won't happen again.

  • Feb. 15, 2003, 1:14 a.m. CST


    by chewmyfat

    Kaufman wrote 4 scripts right?Being J.M,Adaptation,Confession and what?Sorry for my lack of easiness in writing in english.J'ai vu qu'il y avait quelques francais ici,mais suis-je le seul qu

  • I think Donald's contribution to the ADAPTION screenplay started around the time that he pretended to be Charlie and met with Susan Orlean. A twin pretending to be his twin is very cliche.

  • Feb. 16, 2003, 3:06 a.m. CST


    by Simi Valley Tom

    How's the ending? Except for CONFESSIONS OF A DANGEROUS MIND, I hate the endings in Kaufman's stuff. They go off track into PC blubberings or unexplained, annoying character changes. Also, I don't think his ideas are commercial enough; he should design things for a broader audience.

  • Feb. 16, 2003, 6:05 a.m. CST

    Emotionless husks unite!

    by SnapT

    I think there are two reasons people dislike the ending of ADAPTATION. 1.) They are stupid and don't get it. 2.) They are smart and they DO get it, but they still feel depressed and/or betrayed because these characters they've grown to care for throughout the film were ripped away from them (and turned into HUSKS, if you will) by Donald's "mainstream" writing style. Those who think that the whole wacky concept of Donald taking over the writing of the film is just so supermegacool will go along with it, while those who are not as easily amazed will not.

  • Feb. 16, 2003, 8:25 a.m. CST

    My only hang-up with this movie

    by Ribbons

    What if somebody talks to you about your ex-girlfriend, like one of your buddies or something? "Hey, man, I'm sorry you and Sherry broke up." "What? What the hell are you talking about!?" Unless he knows he had a girlfriend and just doesn't remember her.