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Lingvistov Films in English: Memento (2000)

Memento (2000)
 
Directed by: Christopher Nolan
Starring: Guy Pearce, Carrie-Anne Moss
 
PrintMemento is a 2000 American neo-noir mystery-psychological thriller film written and directed by Christopher Nolan, adapted from his younger brother Jonathan Nolan's short story "Memento Mori".
 
Memento is presented as two different sequences of scenes: a black-and-white set that runs in a forward sequence; and a color set that runs in a backward sequence. The two sequences "meet" at the end of the film, producing one common story. It goes like this:

Black and White scenes

Color scenes

1st

2nd

3rd

last

last

3rd

2nd

1st


It stars Guy Pearce as Leonard Shelby, a man with anterograde amnesia, which impairs his ability to store new explicit memories, who has developed a system for recollection using hand-written notes, tattoos, and Polaroid photos. During the opening credits, which portray the end of the story, it is shown that Leonard kills Teddy. The film suggests that this killing is vengeance for the rape and murder of his wife based on information provided by Natalie.

Things to consider
:
  • Memory as foundation for personal identity: compare this film to "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind".
  • How self-as-choice is dependent on memory: compare this film to the Matrix and Truman Show.

Discussion Questions
:
1. Given that “memories are unreliable,” is Leonard’s system more reliable than memory, as he contends? Comment on the relation between ‘memories’ and ‘facts’.
2. What “facts” can he be certain of? Make a list. What happens to these facts as the story unfolds?
3. Leonard was “disciplined and organized.” Did this help him? In what way? Explain. Are there larger lessons here for those of us not in his “condition”?
4. Leonard says “How am I supposed to heal if I can’t feel time?” If time heals all, can someone with his condition heal at all? What else might help him heal? Compare his fate to that of Joel and Clementine in "Eternal Sunshine".
5. What role does memory play in the formation of a person? We often discuss the importance of accurate long term memory, but what about the loss of the ability to form new memories?
6. Can habit and routine help you live your life adequately or meaningfully if you can’t form new memories? Do actions in the world matter if you can’t remember them?
7. Teddy tells Leonard that he doesn’t know who he is, even though he remembers as much as anyone who he was before his injury. Can who you are ever be equal to who you were?
8. Was it the lack of memory or his self-deception that was Leonard’s downfall? Develop an argument for each of these possibilities.
9. Teddy tells Leonard, “So you lie to yourself to stay happy—you leave out a few details—who cares? …. You don’t want the truth.” Using this quote, explain the relation between factual knowledge, truth, and self-knowledge.