Memento is an American psychological thriller directed by Christopher Nolan in 2000 based on his brother’s verbal presentation of the film’s idea. It addresses the story of Leonard Shelby, a former representative of an insurance company, who wants to find a man who raped and killed his wife. However, his investigation is highly complicated by the fact that Leonard suffers from anterograde amnesia, an untreatable and rare form of memory loss, and the inability to create new reminiscences. He obtained this condition as a result of two men’s attack when Leonard’s wife was murdered. Although the protagonist killed one criminal, the second one escaped.
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Even though Leonard remembers his life before the accident, he experiences short-term memory loss almost every several minutes and cannot recollect what he did before and why. That is why he uses notes, Polaroid photos, and even tattoos on his body to track and save important information to find a second murderer and revenge. Another two persons, a bartender Natalie and his contact Teddy, help Leonard in his investigation, even if he does not trust them as well. Despite all difficulties, Leonard finds the person he was chasing, however, his memory substantially differs from reality.
In general, the highly realistic atmosphere of Memento keeps the audience in suspense and forces viewers to reflect desperately on the next plot twist. In general, the film’s main intrigue lies in this part of the investigation that is hidden from Leonard – this one that remained in the recent past. To absorb viewers’ attention and make them look at ongoing events through the eyes of the main hero, Christopher Nolan uses an inverted composition. In other words, the narration is divided into five-minute segments that follow each other in reverse order. Each next segment shows what caused the events of the previous one. Five-minute segments are interrupted by three-minute black-and-white inserts, in which time flows in the usual way. At the end of the film, both plotlines converge and the black and white picture becomes colorful. From this moment, the viewer can restore the complete chronology of events.
Memento is a film that focuses on multiple essential issues familiar to almost every person in the modern world. A considerable number of people feel desperately lost, uncertain, and manipulated by influential people and mass media that frequently create an almost alternative reality when the truth is unknown. People frequently concentrate on facts that may be unreliable. For instance, viewers want to believe Leonard and his wish to revenge for his loss even when it is absolutely clear that his memories are highly questionable. Moreover, the director addresses the themes of self-delusion and self-deception. Devastating traumas may lead to the disintegration of the person’s state of mind to such an extent that he or she starts to construct a new alternative reality to avoid the sense of guilt, disappointment, fear, or pain. At the beginning of the narration, the story of Sammy Jankis recalled by Leonard is introduced. This person is another anterograde amnesiac, however, his condition was defined as fake, and his insurance claim was rejected. His wife who suffered from diabetes died because Sammy constantly forgot to administer her insulin injections. Although this story is initially regarded as an insignificant case from Leonard’s previous work, viewers subsequently understand its importance.