This Is Why You’ll Always Return

Life is precious, every minute
And more precious with you in it.

Music: Little Person
Written by Charlie Kaufman and Jon Brion
Performed by Deanna Story
Synecdoche, New York (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) (2008)

For you.

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For Charlie Kaufman’s Birthday

Photograph of Charlie Kaufman by Brigitte Lacombe

The word “genius” is passed around rather generously, isn’t it? At least in English, because its Russian counterpart, geniy, is a term brimming with a sort of throaty awe and is used only in the case of a very small number of writers…Genius still means to me, in my Russian fastidiousness and pride of phrase, a unique, dazzling gift.

Vladimir Nabokov, interview, 1969

Charlie Kaufman is (say it with a sort of throaty awe) a geniy.

Hope Leaves the Theater (2005)

Written and directed by Charlie Kaufman

Music by Carter Burwell

Cast (listed alphabetically):

Hope Davis: Pat Nixon, The Mouse, Esther, Sailor #2, Rose, Miss Alison Finnigan, Traitor, Voice, Magistrate, Becky, Woman by Side of Road, Choir of Angels

Peter Dinklage: Reed, Oscar, Sheldrake, Boy #1, Tragic Monster, Man in Car, The Puppeteer, Sir Isaac Newton, Ben, William of Essex, Sailor #3. Wolf, Jan Wenner

Meryl Streep: Sally, Kelly, Jane, The Empress of Japan, Mrs. Finnigan, Boy #2, Joan of Arc, Daisy, Teresa D’Urseau, Radio Man, Sailor #1, The Killer, Broken Katie

SCENE BREAKDOWN
Scene One: Elevator
Scene Two: Elevator, ten minutes later
Scene Three: Joe’s Living Room
Scene Four: The “Kitchen,” later that day
Scene Five: Offices of Rolling Stone magazine, 1969
Scene Six: Engine room of an Argentinian freighter, 1943
Scene Seven: The Void, Thursday, 6:53 EST
Scene Eight: Elevator, exactly thirty years later
Scene Nine: Joe’s living room, midnight of the same day
Scene Ten: The Void, early morning
Scene Eleven: The eye of a hurricane, Easter Island, now
Scene Twelve: Elevator, one thousand years later
Scene Thirteen: A field of marigolds

See also:

Synecdoche, New York

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

Adaptation

Being John Malkovich

Photograph of Charlie Kaufman by Brigitte Lacombe

Change Is Not a Choice

AdaptationWhat I came to understand is that change is not a choice. Not for a species of plant, and not for me. It happens, and you are different.

“Susan Orlean” in Charlie Kaufman’s Adaptation (2002)

On Knowing When It’s Not Really Love

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

To be absolutely certain that one is loved is the certain sign that one is not in love.

Søren Kierkegaard
Concluding Unscientific Postscript (1846)

Photo: Clementine (Kate Winslet) and Joel (Jim Carrey), certainly in love, in Charlie Kaufman’s Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)

Related: On Knowing When It’s Really Love