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Eternal Sunshine DVD Feature Commentary - SPOILERS

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Eternal Sunshine DVD Feature Commentary - SPOILERS

Postby clemato » Wed Sep 29, 2004 6:28 pm

This thread will cover transcripts from the DVD feature commentary by the Director Michel Gondry and Screenwriter Charlie Kaufman.

Please do not read any of this if you do not want to read SPOILERS.

Otherwise, proceed below and you can learn about the film through the eyes of the director and writer.

I thought this would be really great for those of you who don't have the DVD and hope this is helpful to everyone.

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Postby clemato » Wed Sep 29, 2004 6:29 pm


The DVD, in auto mode, will play the following trailers before the Main Menu appears:
- Focus Features Trailer
- Vanity Fair movie Trailer
- Motorcycle Diaries movie Trailer

- - - - - - - - - - -

Feature Commentary by Director Michel Gondry (MG) and Screenwriter Charlie Kaufman (CK):

Charlie giggles a lot, Michel does more talking

MG: Pitching it around 1998 or 1999

CK: Was in terrible pain with an infected tooth. Pitch was about 5 minutes long. It went surprisingly well.

MG: Yeah, it was great.

MG: Snow was difficult. There was so much snow they had to clear the beach in the first scene of a lot of it.

MG: Diner shot. Was important to me. Delicate, but easy shoot. Wanted it in a real place, that mattered to me.

CK: For a while there we didn’t know if we were gonna film in this country. Canada. Fought against it.

MG: That was scary to me.

MG: Train stop. Here Kate Winslet (KW) is great. I remember CK responding to the dailies when was having this attitude. It got his attention.

CK: I thought it was really wonderful. Train scene was written much longer, (it would have been) like 20 minutes on film.

MG: Was very organic and real. Scene plays well on two different levels: when you know the surreal and don’t know it.

CK: Always knew we wanted it to be a movie you’d watch more than once. Where you’d get different reactions to it, with the more information that you had (in subsequent viewings).

CK: Funny, people who saw it (in theaters) saw it multiple times. Makes up for the people who didn’t see it (at all).

MG: Interaction in between the film, it was originally CK’s idea. We wanted to initially use music to fill up the gap in composition, but then CK came up with the idea to have music show when they are talking. When there is motion.

CK: Everytime she starts (trying to start conversations, interact with Joel) music starts to play, and everytime she fails, music fades out. She comes back, music starts, fails and music stops.

CK: Have Jon Brion to thank for it. ( http://www.jonbrion.com/jonbrion.html )

CK: He was capable to change the inflection of what he was playing to get it closer to what they (Joel & Clem) were thinking, which is kind of an amazing skill.

MG: He has the ability of being classical and on computer at the same time.

MG: love KW here (she goes and sits next to Joel on his seat), cause she’s invading his personal space.

MG: Jim Carrey (JC) is pushing away from her.

CK: You think that’s JC, not Joel?

MG: Yeah. I think so and when she kicks him right now.

CK: Punch him.

MG: Punch him, that’s Jim not Joel.

CK: I know! (laughs) That’s one of my favorite things in the movie, when she punches him there. It’s so perfect. And that was Kate, it wasn’t written. She just did it which is why he didn’t expect it.

MG: And I have to say we kind of plotted a little bit, with Kate, to take Jim by surprise constantly.

CK: Uh huh.

MG: I like the little dance she does (on the city street, before hopping into Joel’s car).

CK: Yeah, yeah it’s great.

MG: That’s what’s great with Kate. She can be very cartoonish and still a human.

CK: Yeah. Well, the character of Clementine is theatrical, so she has a right within her character. I mean, Clementine knows she’s being cute there when she does that little “It’s frosty!” thing.

MG: Yeah, yeah.

CK: It’s so great to watch actors make characters come alive. To see all these new things that you didn’t anticipate when you were writing.

MG: I read the script. And when director… And I cannot believe how painful it is when you give somebody and they just cross these lines and stuff. And I started to realize how difficult it is.

CK: What do you mean cross out lines?

MG: Well, the difference between a writer and a director. When you work there is always someone commenting on what you are doing. You have to deal with that constantly. The pain on a writer, it’s turned out to me, it feels like, you do your work on your own, but then everybody criticizes it and I realize how I could not survive through what you’ve been through.

CK: It’s hard, but I mean that’s why you know it’s good to work with people like you and Spike (Jonze). Where I feel like I do have a say in what’s going to happen and choices that are going to be made.

CK: It’s really painful to not have that, especially when you’re intimately attached (laugh) to the thing that you’ve written.

MG: You mean that, like the intimacy that took 6 years, 5 years to grow?

CK: Well, yeah. And it’s stuff that you care about and it’s stuff that’s really about my life in a lot of ways.

CK: And I’m happy and fine to sort of watch things evolve and change, but to have a voice in that evolution is very important to me.

MG: Yeah, and I think what’s important is people’s motivation. (It) Needs to be – even if people disagree of the direction to take, if their motivation is right or not like speculative or thinking of their (?) or commercial success, not personal, that’s where I’m inspired.

CK: Yeah. Well, you can have a real conversation with a person who thinks like that because your goal is the same even if the ideas are different. If it’s kind of about pandering or making choices that appeal to the audience, then it’s a very frustrating conversation to have for me.

MG: It started snowing again here (Joel walks home from Clem’s apartment). I like when stuff happens with the weather. Because it gives you an adrenaline rush. Either you have to shoot before you see the snow starting and it’s covered the floor because you lose the continuity; or either you want to shoot with the snow coming into the frame because it’s perfect. Everybody works faster….and that’s what’s correct.

CK: What was the reason to have the apartment, to have a mock-up of it rather than just shoot everything in the actual apartment?

MG: At night it would have been a nightmare for everyone. The neighbors would have been crazy, all the generators…. There is so much going on besides what we shoot.

CK: Right.

MG: Same thing happened here (Joel and Clem go the frozen lake). We didn’t know if there was gonna be an icy lake.

CK: …we didn’t know if we were gonna get lucky.

MG: We put some bright lights on the lake. My idea was to bring the star in the sky, which makes it look like the Titanic (refers to the James Cameron movie). I remember this little ray of light on the freeway, on the side of the lake or the river. And we added that perspective and it fit with the sound because it’s night and there’s always the (?) of the freeway in the distance so we added perspection.

MG: I decided to put them next to this crack (still on the frozen lake scene) just to make it look realistic and it become like a symbol for people how this relationship going wrong.

CK: Yeah!!

MG: That was an image we picked for the poster. …his feet are not touching. I don’t know, something is weird there.

CK: I know! I always look at his feet in the shot more than her feet, I don’t know why that is?

MG: Because they don’t feet touching. I don’t feel like it’s touching.

CK: Looked kinda like cartoon feet. You know, the way a kid would draw a feet. You know, they’re facing the wrong direction.

CK: I love the light in this one (Clementine waking up in Joel’s car).

MG: It was, like, super freezing outside. See snowflakes?

MG: That’s one of the hardest things to pull off. Somebody waking up when they are not really sleeping.

CK: I remember Kate saying that she was really good at that. That that was the one thing she said, “I think I can do”, as an actress. To yawn and look like she just wake up (laughs).

MG: This is the most absurd dialogue I’ve ever heard! (laughs). [Elijah Wood (EW) as Patrick has approach Joel’s car and is asking him questions while Joel waits for Clementine.

MG: We cut a line out….

CK: Well he asked if he could bum a cigarette. Right?

MG: Yeah, yeah. (Credits begin now at 17 min., 30 sec. into the film).

CK: Twenty minutes in…. I’ve seen it mentioned, but not criticized… I think it’s a good solution to get to this point in the story.

MG: Yeah, we wanted to make sure that it’s another part of the story. …in the future, in the past, but it’s a different part.

CK: Right. And the mood shifts dramatically, that it needs to be the title sequence.

MG: That thing is dated to show tape. In fact, by the time we shot tape was kind of obsolete. (Joel is driving at night, throws a cassette out his car window, title credits are rolling).

CK: Yeah, but Lacuna is very low tech. We’ve always sort of said that.

MG: Yeah, that’s true.

CK: Although, that isn’t the Lacuna tape. There’s some confusion sometimes.

MG: Yeah, that’s a song they used to play together.

CK: Their song.

MG: That’s funny. It’s a song I’ve had in my head from the 80’s. It was a song from The Korgis ( http://www.awrc.com/review/k/archive.html ) from 83 and nobody could ever tell me what it was. And I was always coming to them saying, “I remember this melody…. ‘I need you like the sunshine,’” and people thought it was a French song.

MG: And I was with Jon (Brion) in the recording studio. And I ask him the same way and he go, “Oh, wait a second,” and he put a file on his recorder and he had a friend who actually had done a cover just two months ago with friends. It was a perfect coincidence.

MG: Do you think people notice that Jim have that dot on his head? (Joel is at his apartment building mailbox talking to a neighbor about Valentine’s Day).

CK: Uh, I don’t think so I’m sad to say but hopefully they’ll notice it the second time out.

- - - - - -
End of First Twenty Minutes of Feature Commentary.

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Postby cotton » Wed Sep 29, 2004 6:43 pm

Thanks Clemato! I watched it and I couldn't understand a lot of the stuff Michel said. Are you going to do the rest?
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Postby clemato » Wed Sep 29, 2004 7:19 pm

Yep. I watched the whole commentary last night, it took about an hour just to get the 20 minutes written down.

So......please be patient and I will get the entire commentary posted here eventually. That transcription took me at least 8 or 9 hours over the course of a week.


I did a transcription of Michel and Kate interviewd by Charlie Rose a while back. I'll post it in the Past & Current Movies thread in a minute, if you're curious. It will be titled "Eternal Sunshine - Charlie Rose interview April 15, 2004".
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Postby cotton » Wed Sep 29, 2004 8:33 pm

I thought you got this from another website. Your fingers must sore.
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Postby clemato » Wed Sep 29, 2004 8:43 pm

Did it all by myself. Je suise une secrétaire.... :wink:

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Postby FavaBeans » Wed Sep 29, 2004 10:25 pm

I just finished watching the commentary... err actually listening to it, and I wasn't really pleased with it... it was good but they really didn't talk about the story of the movie too much, they talked mostly about lighting and the technical stuff and the actors, which was good and what i expected but I wish they, mostly Charlie kaufman, talked about the story in detail and what sorta things worked and how they are explained.... it would've been great to get the writers interpertation of the film.

Overall, it was a good commentary.
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Postby clemato » Thu Sep 30, 2004 12:52 am

I think they want to leave the story open to each individual, rather than steering us into one direction. Possibly to save the fantasy of it all.

Haven't had time to read it yet, but the Shooting the Script paperback book might have stuff.

Also Mick at www.beingcharliekaufman.com may be able to provide something if you're interested.

I have a few Eternal Sunshine related magazine articles here http://photos.yahoo.com/sakepr . If something intrigues you that's new to you let me know.
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