Empathizing with Joel Barish in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

2240 Words 9 Pages
One of the most critical factors in creating “good” films is the approach in creating the emotional foundation of a story. Hollywood film producers have always taken interest in depicturing particular scenes in order to make the audience share the emotions, which main characters go through on the screen. Despite the fairly long history of film production, many scholars are still examining the issue of emotional responses to films. One of the investigators, Alex Neill, puts an edge on the question of two different types of emotional responses to the film fiction: empathy and sympathy, in his essay “Empathy and (Film) Fiction”. According to Neill’s theory, which I am going to explore furthermore in my paper, empathy becomes the more valuable …show more content…
But during the process Joel understands that he cannot erase his love to Clementine and tries to save his memories about her. Throughout the entire film, different emotions are being evoked in the audience, including anxiety, anger and compassion. However, what is the type of the emotions that the audience shares with Joel: empathy or sympathy?
As it was mentioned, in his work Alex Neill implies that the emotions we feel during either reading or watching fiction should be demarcated into two basic categories: empathy and sympathy. According to this concept “with sympathetic response, in feeling for another, one’s response need not reflect what the other is feeling, nor indeed does it depend on whether the other is feeling anything at all”. In contrast “in responding empathetically to another I come to share his feelings, to feel with him; if he is in an emotional state, to empathize with him is to experience the emotion(s) that he experiences” (Neill, 247). The further deep analysis of different cases of empathy-sympathy differentiation leads Neill to making an argument on the significance of the empathetic responses. According to his point of view, the empathetic responses occupy a significant place in our understanding of fiction, thus, while watching a fictional movie like our example, the audience should respond empathetically to the different situations in it.
The very first scenes of

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