Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind – a screenplay by Charlie Kaufman [ Learn Screenplay Writing ]

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

a screenplay by

Charlie Kaufman

[ Learn Screenplay Writing, Free Screenplay ]

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

Goldenrod Revision February 4th, 2003
Green Revision January 20th, 2003
Yellow Revision January 13th, 2003
Pink Revision January 10th, 2003
Blue Revision December 17th, 2002
Shooting Draft November 6th, 2002

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

 

1 EXT. COMMUTER TRAIN STATION – DAY 1

It’s gray. The platform is packed with business commuters:

suits, overcoats. There is such a lack of color it almost seems as if it’s a black and white shot, except one commuter holds a bright red heart-shaped box of candy under his arm.

The platform across the tracks is empty. As an almost empty train pulls up to that platform, one of the suited men breaks out of the crowd, lurches up the stairs two at a time, hurries across the overpass and down the stairs to the other side, just at the empty train stops. The doors open and the man gets on that train. As the empty train pulls from the station, the man watches the crowd of commuters through the train’s dirty window. We see his face for the first time.

This is Joel Barish. He is in his 30’s, sallow, a bit puffy. His hair is a little messy, his suit is either vintage or
just old and dirty and sort of threadbare. His bright tie has a photograph of a rodeo printed on it.

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

2 EXT. MONTAUK TRAIN STATION – DAY 2

Joel talks on a payphone. The wind howls around him. He tries to shield the mouthpiece as he talks. His speech is a self-conscious mumble, especially difficult to hear over the elements.

JOEL

Hi, Cindy. It’s Joel. Joel. I’m not
feeling well this morning. No, food
poisoning, I think. I had clams. Clams!
I’m sorry it took me so long to call in,
but I’ve been vomiting a lot. I’ve been
vomiting! Yes, that’s right, a lot!

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

3 EXT. BEACH – DAY 3

Joel wanders the windy, empty beach, with his briefcase. He passes an old man with a metal detector. They nod at each other.

4 EXT. BEACH – DAY 4

Later: Joel looks out at the ocean.

5 EXT. BEACH – DAY 5

Later: Joel sits on a rock and pulls a big, tattered notebook from his briefcase. He opens it and reads his last entry.

JOEL (V.O.)
January 6, 2001. Nothing much. Naomi
and I coexisting. Roommates. Nothing.
Will it go on like this forever? My best
guess? Yes.

Under the entry is a detailed drawing of a paranoid, wildeyed man huddled in the corner of a damp basement lit by a bare bulb on a cord. Joel notices something odd: a great many pages have been torn out after the last entry. He ponders it for a moment, then writes on the next page:

JOEL (V.O.) (CONT’D)

Valentine’s Day 2003. First entry in two
years. Where did those years go? If
you’re not careful it gets away from you.
And then it’s over and you’re dead. And
within a few years who even remembers you
were here?
(thinks)
Called in sick today. Took the train out
to Montauk.
(thinks)
Cold.
(thinks some more)
Don’t know what else to say. I saw Naomi
last night. First time since the breakup.
We had sex. It was odd to fall into
our old familiar sex life so easily.
Like no time has passed. Suddenly we’re
talking about getting together again. I
guess that’s good.

He has no other thoughts, does some work on the drawing on the opposite page. He glances up, spots a female figure in the distance, walking in his direction. She stands out against the gray in a fluorescent orange hooded sweatshirt. This is Clementine. She’s in her early thirties, zaftig. He watches her for a bit, then as she nears, he goes back to his drawing, or at least pretends to. Once she has passed, he watches her walk away. She stops and stares out at the ocean. Joel writes.

JOEL (V.O.) (CONT’D)

Constitutionally incapable of making eyecontact
with a woman I don’t know. Guess
I’d better get back with Naomi. Ought to
buy her a Valentine. She loves roses, I
believe.

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

 

6 EXT. BEACH – DAY 6

LATER: Joel walks up near the beach houses closed for the season. He peeks cautiously in a dark window.

7 EXT. BEACH – DAY 7

LATER: Joel digs into the sand with a stick.

8 INT. DINER – DAY 8

It’s a local tourist place, but off-season empty. An old couple drink coffee at the counter. Joel sits in a booth and eats a grilled cheese sandwich and a bowl of tomato soup. In his notebook he is drawing a wizened old man with a metal detector. His metal detector has led him to another dead old man clutching a metal detector. Joel meekly, unsuccessfully, tries to get the waitress’s attention for more coffee. Clementine enters, looks around, takes off her hood. Joel glances at her bright blue hair. She picks an empty booth and sits. Joel studies her discreetly. The waitress approaches her with a coffee pot.

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