DVD cover for Memento

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Memento is a film written and directed by Christopher Nolan based on his brother Jonathan's short story "Memento Mori." It stars Guy Pearce, Carrie-Anne Moss, and Joe Pantoliano. more...

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The film was released in 2000 to widespread critical acclaim, and was nominated for Academy awards for Original Screenplay and Editing, and a Golden Globe Award for Best Screenplay.


The film consists of an intricately woven pattern of flashbacks, with the beginning of one scene acting as the ending point for the next (the film's first scene moves from Y to Z, the next from X to Y, and so forth). Interspersed throughout these scenes are black-and-white sequences which progress forward normally (A to B, B to C, etc.). Thus the opening (color) scene of the film is the last event in the story, and is shown in reverse motion to clue viewers into the film's scene progression. Near the end of the film, the color and black-and-white scenes converge into one climactic event.

Memento follows Leonard (Guy Pearce), whose head trauma gave him anterograde amnesia, or "anterograde memory dysfunction". Leonard is unable to form new memories so he is continually meeting people over and over again as if for the first time. To remember events and people, Leonard develops a system using Polaroid photographs, notes, and tattoos — especially clues to the identity of the man who raped and murdered his wife, and who struck the blow that caused Leonard's condition when he stumbled in on the crime.

The film explores memory, identity, time, revenge and reality.

The score was composed by David Julyan.

Plot summary

Chronologically speaking, the story begins with Leonard in a motel room. He engages in a conversation on the phone with an unidentified other party, where he tells the story of Sammy Jankis. Leonard was an insurance investigator and one of his cases was of a man named Sammy Jankis, who suffered from anterograde amnesia. Leonard investigates Sammy's case and determines that Sammy's condition is not physical, rather it is psychological, and is therefore exempt from any insurance coverage.

According to Leonard, Sammy's wife, a diabetic, believes that Sammy's condition is psychological and that he could snap out of it. She becomes more and more exasperated with his actions and decides on some drastic action. She repeatedly asks Sammy to administer her insulin shot, hoping either he will snap out of his condition or if not, she will basically commit assisted suicide. Sammy, unable to remember his actions after only a few minutes have passed, continues to inject his wife. His wife goes into a coma and dies from severe hypoglycemia.

One night, a rapist breaks into Leonard's house and kills his wife. Leonard wakes up and gets into a fight with a masked man. He suffers a blow to the head and falls victim to anterograde amnesia, although it is never made clear whether his condition is also psychological or due to the blow to the head.

It is important to keep in mind that any action that happens before the initial scene in the motel room, the investigation of Sammy Jankis and the attack and rape are known to the movie-goer through Leonard's accounts only. Leonard is a classic example of an unreliable narrator.

Soon after, Leonard encounters Teddy who was assigned to investigate the death of Leonard's wife. Leonard teams up with Teddy to find his wife's murderer- a man who was presumably named 'John G.'

An undisclosed amount of time passes and Teddy meets Lenny at the motel where he's staying. They drive to an abandoned warehouse where Leonard kills a man named Jimmy Grantz thinking he is his wife's killer. Through a dialogue with Teddy, Leonard realizes he has been manipulated into killing a man Teddy wanted dead. At a moment when Teddy seems to be the most deceptive, he reveals that Leonard is the real killer of his wife, via an insulin OD. Sammy was actually a faker who had no wife. Lenny killed the real 2nd attacker over a year ago. It transpires that Teddy initially felt pity for Leonard, and allowed him to get his 'revenge' on the second man he (Teddy) believes raped his wife. Due to the content of the narrative, it is debatable whether this person really was the correct man, but there are equal arguments for and against. Ultimately, Teddy uses Leonard to kill again, though his motivation is unclear. He may have felt that Lenny was ready to try and make the memory "stick", he could have been motivated by a desired to rid the world of drug dealers, or he may have just wanted the money. It could have just been a combination of all those motivations.

Read more at Wikipedia.org

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