Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004) is a science fiction romantic drama film written by Charlie Kaufman dan directed by Michel Gondry. This film tells a story of Joel Barish who somehow trying to escape his monotone, repetitive, and boring everyday life. He impulsively ditches his work---despite not being an impulsive person---and ride a train to Montauk. There, he met a spontaneously carefree and impulsive woman, Clementine Kruczynski.
They had a conversation on a train trip back to Rockville. They introduced themselves to each other, joked, and ended up sitting right beside each other in the nearly empty train carts. On the way home, Joel offered a ride to Clementine which the girl accepted happily. They shared a drink at Clementine's place and when it's time for Joel to go back to his own home, Clementine wrote her number on Joel's hand, made him promise to call her---and he did.
Like a classic romantic film, those two kept on meeting with each other, having a date after a date, and ended up together as lovers. They adored and loved each other, but as a story always comes to an end, the same thing also goes for their relationship. Soon after their break up, Clementine, being the impulsive person that she is, decided to use a service offered by Lacuna Inc. to completely erase all of her memories about her past lover, Joel Barish, and their failed relationship without really thinking about the consequences she will have to face.
When Joel learn about this, he was so heartbroken, mad, desperate, and sad, that he decided to do the same to his memories of Clementine using the same memory erasure service. However, as the memory erasure process is going on, he remembered more and more reasons as to why he fell in love in the first place, he realizes that maybe he wants to remember the relationship after all. From then on, it was a hopeless battle as he has to fight through his subconscious to try to save it.
I feel like we all could relate to this movie in one way and another. When our relationship is over, our first instinct---most always---is to cast away all belongings that reminded us of our exes. Ticket stubs of movies you watched together, gifts and presents on the anniversary day, or even everyday thing with memories of them. We curse and mourn and want everything of them out of our life, including our memories.
Not only in a relationship context, but the same thing also happen to us when hardship comes to our way. We become stressed, feeling helpless, and hoping we could forget about it. We are wishing for our brain to erase that unhappiness and sorrow and we wish we could become unaware of what will happen and the consequences to come. But, is ignorance indeed bliss?
From this movie, we could see that erasing our memories of something that had become a part of us doesn't do us any good. For example, if a woman were to erase her past experience of being raped, will she be happier because she doesn't have to remember the trauma anymore? Or would removing the incident do more damage to her life than the actual incident itself? Hence she wouldn't have learned anything from it or live past it and become the stronger person that she is today.
This film ultimately arrives at the conclusion that, well, no, having a spotless mind does not bring us eternal sunshine. We may forget our past memory, but the impulses, instincts, and our subconscious that arose from that past memory will remain. Even if we are able to erase the memories, the feelings and emotions remain.
When we connect this technology to erase memories to education, it serves the same kind of effects. If we are to erase the memories of us failing a grade, will we study harder and try to get a better result next time? All-nighters we pull to finish an assignment, the stress and depressive episodes we go through thinking our works is no good, the heartbreak and tears we shed from failing an important exam---we want to erase it all. Nevertheless, if we were to erase all those bad memories from our lives, will we be able to become a better person?
I believe the answer is no. If we keep erasing the sad memories from our lives, we would never grow up. We will forever rely on the technology to make us feel better when in all actuality, we are just running away. We are running away from our lives, emotions, heartaches, and tears. We are running away from the consequences we should have faced.
Eternal sunshine never really come to those with the spotless mind. Sometimes, we need to become a bigger person and bear all the painful experiences. Sometimes, we need to go through hardship to become a stronger and better person. Sometimes, ignorance is not always bliss.