One of the greatest movies of the 21st century almost didn't happen because of Christopher Nolan
The movie was released 15 years ago this week.
I might be biased (because it is in my top five movies of all time), but Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind, first released on 19 March 2004, is a complete and total masterpiece.
It shows two creative geniuses - director Michel Gondry (too many incredible music videos to list) and writer Charlie Kaufman (Adaptation) - at the peak of their powers, combined with two incredible performers - Jim Carrey and Kate Winslett - both playing powerfully against type.
The story of love and loss and regret and memory took what might normally be a sci-fi based psychological thriller, and somehow turned it into a romantic dramedy, telling the story of a man hiring a company to wipe his new ex-girlfriend from his brain, but then deciding against it (from inside his own mind) half-way through the process.
It sounds complicated, and at times it is, requiring the viewer to sit forward and pay attention and connect some dots on their own, but it all comes together wonderfully by the end.
But it almost didn't, thanks to bad timing and another genius director working within the topic of the mind and tricky memories. Eternal Sunshine had been in some kind of pre-production since 1998, and then Christopher Nolan's Memento came out in 2001.
Speaking to DVD Talk, Kaufman was asked about influences on this movie:
"No, in fact we pitched this idea several years before Chris Nolan came out with his movie. I was delayed writing it because I had to write the movie that became Adaptation first. And then I was producing Human Nature, which Michel was directing. Plus it was very hard to write for me.
"There was a moment when suddenly people started talking about this movie Memento when I totally freaked out. I thought "Oh I can't do this anymore", and I called Michel and said "I am not doing it", then we called Steve Golin and said "we're not doing it". Steve Golin was very angry and said "You are doing it!" So we did it. I wasn't influenced by Memento except in that way.
"I have never seen Total Recall but I've read a lot of Philip K. Dick stories and books, and I don't think that was a direct influence on this, but I certainly like his work."
Thankfully, the project powered ahead, and Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind went on to be considered one of the greatest movies of the 21st century so far.
Since then Michel Gondry has re-teamed with Jim Carrey on bonkers TV series Kidding, Kaufman wrote and directed two more cult favourites (Anolamisa and Synecdoche, New York), and Nolan went back to the tricksy memory well with Inception.
See? These things have a way of working themselves out...