Sunday, July 23, 2017

Memento

Happy Day Two of Christopher Nolan week!

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Today's film is Memento, Christopher Nolan's second feature length film released in 2000.  It stars Guy Pearce, Carrie-Ann Moss and Joe Pantoliano.

Spoilers ahead!

It tells the story of Leonard, a young man with anterograde amnesia which was the result of an injury he got while trying to protect his wife from an attack.

In said attack, Leonard's wife was raped and almost killed and Leonard leaves himself notes on Polaroid photos, around his room and tattoos himself with information he finds relevant to his one mission of tracking down his wife's rapist and who he believes is responsible for his death.

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The movie is told in a non-linear format.  The color sequences are told backward, beginning with the very last shot of the movie and working backwards in time.  The black and white sequences all happen in the correct order and at the last scene of black and white is where the color sequence timeline is supposed to start.

This film's main point, it seems to me, is to throw into question the idea of reality and make you second things that you would normally completely take for granted.  Leonard, with his limited ability to remember what's going on has to rely completely on photos and notes he has taken.  These reliances lead him to actually go astray in some cases.  He, for instance, goes the entire movie trusting that the car parked outside is his own vehicle just because he had it written down on a photo. In the end, he turns out to be completely wrong about that.  He also believes that his wife was killed when she was raped, which also turns out to be wrong (Leonard actually accidentally killed her) but he believes it because his limited information fools him.

The confusing way in which this film is shot makes the audience member feel like they have Leonard's condition where they have to rely on things they really have no way of confirming because they haven't gotten that backstory yet.

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The other part of this movie comes at the very end where Leonard leaves another note telling with false information so that he can use that clue to continue on his crusade to find his wife's "killer" and kill him, even though at that moment he is aware that he actually brought the rapist to justice.  Leonard acknowledges that this is true, but he wants something to keep living for and so he leaves himself false information to purposely fool himself in the future after he forgets that the info is false so he will have something to focus on.

Leonard willfully deceives himself just so he can have something to work toward, and to him continuing on in his wife's memory is more important to him than even the truth.

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I like this movie because rather than offering direct answers to questions like "what is truth?  how important is it?" or "can we trust reality?" the movie just raises them and lets the audience member consider them for themselves.

No answer is readily apparent nor is one crammed down the viewer's throat.  I appreciate that about Christopher Nolan's films--they aren't really movies you can disagree with per se because they aren't movies that are trying to make a moral argument or anything.  They are movies you can have conversations about though and I love how Nolan's films always push audience to think for themselves.

I found this image of a movie poster for Memento made by a fan that I like waaaay more than the actual poster.

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It reflects the broken narrative of the film and the way in which Leonard has to put fragment of his life together to get a bigger picture without being sure of anything.

Have you seen Memento?  What'd you think of it?

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