Tag Archives: Winter

Brighter than Sunshine


Somehow I have always seen Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004) in the month of December. Huddled in the cold in a quilt, when I saw it for the first time three years ago it left me with a feeling of cuddly tearful warmth. More than that, it was such a high to decipher its screenplay and identify with all the characters. The quiet creative anti-social Joel of Jim Carrey, Kate Winslet’s Clementine as ‘just a fucked up girl looking for her peace of mind’ in Ugg boots, the infatuated pretty Mary of Kirsten Dunst, an annoying  Elijah Wood’s ‘Patrick baby boy’ or the attractive bespectacled Stan of Mark Ruffalo. So I saw it again within a span of a few days. No film before that had left me with that tremendous feeling of having found something that was as yet intangible and unexplainable.

And you get that from everybody who has seen it. They will have that look on their face and you just understand. Yes, I know what you mean. Yet, each of us relate and engage with it personally. Why would this film have such an effect otherwise? Charlie Kaufman wrote the screenplay after he broke up with his girlfriend and it’s amusing to think about that every time up until today even when I saw it again after all these years on a rainy windswept cold winter’s day.

It’s difficult to make romantic cinema work. You either enter the cliché mushy territory that can leave you sick and disgusted. Or you enter the chick-flick zone which is another no-no (or only maybe very rarely). The Rom-coms haven’t gone a long way ever since When Harry met Sally (or at least I think so). Else there is always Woody Allen. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind really comes in like a ray of light with its unique meld of science-fiction, romance, melancholy and philosophy.  

So I remember the dialogues and recite them along.

Constantly talking isn’t necessarily communicating.

You know me, I’m impulsive

The operation is brain damage

My crotch is still here, just as you remembered it

My God, there’s people coming out of your butt.

Meet me in Montauk

The story and dialogues get a new life with Michel Gondry’s direction. I can see the visual tricks and the turns and Clementine’s changing hair colors that express her personality and stages of her relationship with Joel.  Just like her changing blue, green, orange and red hair – this film is also eternal because it means something different every time. Sometimes it is catharsis, sometimes it is longing.  The white snow at the end of the film falls like a clean slate. We fade out into the color of whitewash or even cold dew. We can feel its droplets condense to Beck’s soundtrack. Yes, I need your loving like the sunshine, everybody’s gotta learn sometime.

How happy is the blameless vestal’s lot! / The world forgetting, by the world forgot / Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind! / Each pray’r accepted, and each wish resign’d. – Alexander Pope

Happy New Year!


Sonbahar {Ozcan Alper’s Autumn}

The cold weather, the end of the year and a trip to the hills reminds me of a Turkish film by Ozcan Alper called Sonbahar (Autumn) that I viewed a month back at the Osian Cinefan Film Festival in Delhi.

If you have ever visited the hills, traversed curving roads on the sides of mountains, looked down at abysses and valleys, or faced bitter cold, winter light and warmth of the sun, quaint towns and villages – those nestled habitations amongst the wilderness, then Autumn is a watch that you will identify with. And even if you have not, then what is art for, if not to make you experience that, what the artist and his characters have set out to do.

Sonbahar is the story of a man called Yusuf, let out of jail after spending 10 years as a political prisoner, taken in at 22yrs as a university student. He is let out on health grounds and returns home to his mountain village. But he comes back to find his father died while he was away and we watch him subsequently struggling and living a life away from the mental and physical torture he has endured in the prime of his life.

His drive back to his village on a bus, his return home is beautifully shot on the winding ways of the mountains, the cinematography successfully capturing the natural beauty of his surroundings. His physical and mental health corresponds with the weather of autumn in the hills – the setting in of a winter chill and a green of the vegetation that is still not lost out to the snow.

Mountains are healing, and we watch him deal with his chronic cough, letting time pass by him, as he sleeps in the winter sun or hears his mother asking him to get married. We also find him to be a man of some intelligence as he teaches math to a village boy in his spare time, and wonder at what he would have done in his life if he hadn’t been put into prison as a student protestor. The village is also left with only the elderly population, save for Yusuf’s childhood friend Mikhail.

Against this backdrop, we also watch him fall in love with a Georgian woman who reads Dostoyevsky and has crossed the border to work as a prostitute in the nearby town. Ironic as she tells him, that he too reminds him of one of the many Russian characters from a Dostoyevsky novel, and the story of Autumn itself is an interweave of the politics in Turkey in the 90’s, social life of the mountainous Turkish people, Yusuf’s relationship with his old friends and his mother, and his attempt at love and eluding loneliness. We watch a funeral take place early on of one of the elder inhabitants, just as the film also ends with one on a haunting Turkish soundtrack. Who is it? That’s a question left open-ended……

The screenplay and acting is poetic, taking you into the mind of Yusuf without him talking much about his state. I also admire the way the landscape is treated to make one understand the psychology of the lead character. As autumn gave way to winter, I was sucked into their love for each other and the human condition where the heart craves but doesn’t get. I look at this film as life giving you another chance of starting again, just as winter comes and passes by giving way to new life.