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Symbolism of Clementine’s Hair Colour in The Eternal Sunshine of The Spotless Mind

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The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is a story of two lovers who come to know each other in multiple ways. Their futile and fragile relationship being explored through a nonlinear story where they both try to erase each other from their memories but being unable to truly erase the feelings that they share for each other. The movie follows their relationship as it progresses through time showing bits throughout their multiple relationships with each other, jumping between the past and the present as Joel’s memories of Clementine are erased. Throughout the movie Clementine’s hair colour changes expressing the several different stages of her and Joel’s relationship.

The movie starts with Clementine’s hair is blue, showing the start of their relationship and where they first meet in Montauk. This first starting hair colour plays an important role in how Gondry first starts to unravel the nonlinear way in which their relationship is represented. As the movie progresses the viewer slowly finds out that the first time Joel and Clementine meet is instead the end of the movie- when they meet after they have had their memories removed. This is done by having Gondry adding in other little things such as the dent on Joel’s car that he noticed at the start of the movie -which is revealed to have been done by Clementine when they fall out and remove each other- and rehashed again after his memories are removed (when the loop comes back around) and the context of the dent is revealed. This is done to aid the viewer to better understand the nonlinear narrative that Gondry carefully weaves throughout the story, sowing little seeds of foreshadowing for the viewer to uncover and figure as the move progresses.

After the introduction of the movie the main body of it has Joel reliving his memories of him with Clementine as their relationship breaks apart. When Joel and Clementine’s relationship is its final stage of being broken down and their major conflicts as a couple occur, Clementine’s hair takes on the colour of orange. This har colour is shown in during the major conflicts of the movie that mainly involve occurrences that happen outside of Joel’s memories; for example, when they fall out and when Clementine starts to see Patrick Wertz her hair is orange. This is shown by having the transition of Clementine’s first hair colour of blue -when her relationship with Joel is fresh and happy- to her orange hair -with the digression of her partnership with Joel and the start with Patrick. Why this is done is to further use the differences in her hair colour to help with the changing relationship that she and Joel share.

Finally, during the more major complications as well as the final parts of the movie, Clementine’s hair changes from a more vibrant red to a green colour. This vibrant red is prevalent during the main complication when Joel and Clementine try to escape from his dreams and top his memories being erased -whilst the other sub plots escalate towards the peak of each of their stories. This red hair shows the reignition of their relationship where they both realise their true love for each other and its boundless nature between Joel’s mind and reality. This red colour is used to perpetuate the final moments in the struggle of their relationship and the eventual end of it, how they jump back to memories of Joel’s childhood to try and escape the erosion of their partnership. This vibrant red then transitions to a softer green colour when Joel is transported back to when they truly first meet. This green shows the actual beginnings of their relationship, rehashing old seeds such as the song Clementine sings to Joel (at the end) that he doesn’t know, but instead he sings it to her. This is done to help the viewer finally unravel and unpack the nonlinear narrative that is being told by Gondry as it reaches its loop and climax.

Throughout the Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, director Michael Gondry, uses the constantly changing hair colour of Clementine to both show the stages of Joel and Clementine’s relationship but to also explore the changing nature of their relationship. At the beginning her hair is blue, this along with other clues allow Gondry to sow the seeds of foreshadowing to be later sleuthed by the viewer as the nonlinear story is revealed. Her hair progresses to an orange signifying the destruction of her relations with Joel and others with Patrick. After the vibrant red and softer green display the rebuilding of their partnership during the main complications of the movie, ending with the green referring to the time when the first meet and the eagerness and tension between them. The constant change of hair colour is how Gondry can weave an intricate story with the non-jarring experience of it being nonlinear, having it be able to flow smoothly and to have the audience be able to slowly piece together the pieces unravelling the mysteries. 

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Symbolism Of Clementine’s Hair Colour In The Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind. (2021, August 06). GradesFixer. Retrieved September 29, 2022, from
“Symbolism Of Clementine’s Hair Colour In The Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind.” GradesFixer, 06 Aug. 2021,
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Symbolism Of Clementine’s Hair Colour In The Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2021 Aug 06 [cited 2022 Sept 29]. Available from:
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