color in “eternal sunshine of the spotless mind” (2004).
eternal sunshine of the spotless mind is an incredible film from michael gondry that plays with the highs and lows of a relationship, in a world where the option of memory deletion is accessible. what results is the non-liner narrative that plays with time and space, and relies heavily on color to ground the movie as it shifts from future to past to present and back again. the most clear reliances upon color throughout the film are found within clementine’s ever-changing hair. clemtine’s hair color changes as both a tool to represent the messy timeline the film follows, and to represent the status and mood of her relationship with joel.
when joel and clementine first meet (of course, shown to the audience right as the very end of their relationship as lacunac finish erasing joel’s memory) with clementine’s acidic green hair, with the roots grown out. of course on the base level, the green alone is a representative of the new, budding relationship between the two. and the acidic-ness of the green, well, it’s clear to say the relationship was never going to be smooth sailing. considering this is aired at the end, the audience already knows exactly what happened to them. clem herself tells joel (and the audience) the color is called “green revolution” - perhaps indicating the cyclical nature of their relationship, and that they were destined to meet again.
clem’s blue hair is the color representative of their second “first time meeting,” while on the lirr to montauk. it’s a calmer hair color than any else we see in the film, presenting an expectation of a new beginning for the pair, and hopefully and relationship that is more relaxed and understanding that previously.
clem’s orange sweater also has an intriguing color coded presence. it initricately links both of clem and joel’s first time meeting together.
clem’s bright red hair, by contrast, is present for their “honeymoon phase,” the most passionate, exciting part of joel and clem’s relationship. in clem’s red hair the audience can see her current personality - excited and romanced, having been pulled into this bright burning relationship. the red reflects this, indicating desire and the fiery, burning passion that is driving the relationship. however, red is also a warning, and the audience knows that red as fire; well, fire always burns out.
clem’s red hair had faded over time - once electric and bright, and as the relationship folds in on itself, her hair faded out in the same way. her hair is shorter, duller, and simplistic - nothing like the eclectic clem the audience has grown accustomed to. their relationship loses the passion it began with, and the pair quickly grow tired of the unique quirks they were once so willing to overlook.they fight heavily, and joel begins to shut down and clem shuts him out.
eternal sunshine’s use of color strictly within the relm of clementine’s hair is a great tool to reflect both the mood of the relationship, and to help chronologize the timeline of events against a non-liner narrative. the color reflects clem’s emotions in a scene, and clue the audience into where exactly the tone of the film is heading. the color of clem’s hair is a wonderful reference point in an amazing film stacks with intricate details too easily overlooked by the average viewer, guiding the audience through the heartbreaking narrative.