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Memento: explanation of the thriller by Christopher Nolan

A man wants to take revenge on the death of his wife, will his wavering mind help him?

We all need memories that remind us of who we are and Leonard Shelby is no different. A man kills his wife and causing him to alter his hippocampus which no longer allows him to remember things that happen minutes later. He wants to find out who destroyed his life. We then proceed in the explanation of Memento, a 2000 film directed by Christopher Nolan, director, among others, of The Dark Knight, Inception, Interstellar and Dunkirk.

The screenplay behind the story was born from the short story Memento Mori, written by the director’s brother and published only after the film was released. The film was nominated for the 2002 Academy Awards for Best Original Screenplay and Best Editing. Guy Pearce plays the role of the protagonist, Carrie-Anne Moss in the role of the mysterious and fascinating Natalie, and Joe Pantoliano in those of the ambiguous police officer Teddy Gammell. The characters that revolve around him seem to want to help him, but what is the truth?

You have to force a method if you want to do it, learning to trust only your writing becomes an essential part of your life; (…) it’s as if you need dozens of pockets: specific pockets for specific things. You must learn to put everything in its place and to give the right place to everything.

The plot of Memento

Leonard Shelby suffers from a disorder called short-term amnesia, which does not allow him to remember what is going on around him for more than a few minutes in a row. After that, it’s as if nothing had happened. This condition is due to a tragic accident that saw him starring together with his wife. One day, while he was trying to defend her from a rapist who broke into their home, he was attacked by another man. He hit his head and from that moment he no longer has a short-term memory, even if he remembers his whole life and affections until that tragedy.

Although it seems impossible, he decides to take revenge for the death of his wife, and to seek his rapist to settle the score. Not being able to trust anyone’s words, he begins to write down on paper all the essential information to remember, including the level of reliability of the people who are present in his daily life. With the help of some polaroids, his tattoos and a crazy determination he begins his personal manhunt.

A montage serving the plot – Explanation memento

How can I heal if I can’t feel the time?

The editing of the film follows the representation of the protagonist’s mind. In fact, each scene is interrupted after 15 minutes and restarts with another scene of 15 minutes chronologically opposite to the previous one. The story goes on until the central part of the film, which according to a linear chronological order, would be the final scene; the spectator begins to connect all the pieces of the puzzle together with the protagonist. However, the viewer often finds himself confused and confused as he observes situations without knowing the previous ones. and black (in the recent past, when Leonard talks on the phone with an unknown interlocutor). Thanks to Nolan’s choice to build the film on time jumps and continuous flashbacks and flashforwards, the rhythm is dynamic and pressing.

A time that is not lacking, but escapes

Nolan, in Memento, seems to want to show us how impossible it is to manage one’s own existence and beliefs by abstracting ourselves completely from the timeline. We need to put events in a specific order to understand them and give them a clear meaning. And when we don’t succeed, it seems to us that nothing makes sense and we cling to any small certainty that we have left.

Can we rely on people close to us if we don’t know when they act for our good? Can we rely on facts, from which we can no longer go back, and which appear before our eyes? Perhaps, Leonard is convinced, only the advice and help that we give to ourselves can work. Notes and notes that constantly remind us which direction to take and why it is worth doing. A time that when there is considered tyrant, but when it is missing, it does not let us live in peace. They say that those who have no memories live more serenely, in the dark. But is it possible for human nature to spend all its days with this awareness? Perhaps man is something more complex than he thinks he is, or wants to be.

Explanation of the final scenes of Memento

Regarding the particular structure of the screenplay, the director expressed himself underlining the importance of the concept of identification.

The best world to do this was to tell the story backwards. In this way, when we meet the characters, we do not know – just like the protagonist – how he met that person, where he met him for the first time or whether he should trust him or not.

At the end of the film we see Leonard in bed with his wife, with a tattoo on his chest that reads “I’ve done it”, which can be interpreted as an admission of guilt. It may have already killed the man he hunts for, rendering the research of the film useless and highlighting the madness of the protagonist. John G. may have already been eliminated, but Leonard does not remember him, as Agent Teddy reminds him, who also has the same initials (John Gammell).

The scene of “I’ve done it” could only be imagined, because this tattoo is not present on Leonard’s body during the film. Even in the Polaroid where he laughs shirtless, which Teddy says he shot, Leonard seems to indicate with the finger the same area of the tattoo that is still missing, but that he plans to do, now that he has killed his man. Alternatively, the script may have been tattooed after assassinating Teddy, managing to return home where he finds his wife, who had not died after the attack. She had survived, but he couldn’t remember it. However, this second hypothesis does not seem the most reliable, because the killing of Teddy is the last chronological scene.

Leonard or Sammy?

Memento shows a scene in which Sammy Jankis is sitting in an asylum. For a few moments, Leonard takes Sammy’s place in the clinic chair. In addition, when Leonard is in Natalie’s living room and watches TV, we see a small memory in which his hand touches an insulin injection syringe. But this gesture was Jankis’ habit, not his. A doubt arises in the spectator: are Sammy and Leonard the same person? Did the protagonist create an alternative version of the facts, or do you think he remembers what really happened? He told everyone about his first working case, which involved Sammy Jankis’ short-term memory and his wife’s desperation. This wanted to make sure that the man she had fallen in love with was no longer there, and that there was no chance of making him remember.

But perhaps it was Leonard’s wife who wanted it, and was diabetic. This would justify Lenny’s memory of holding a syringe in his hand if he helped his wife with the injections. If this version was the correct one, now his wife would have died, because he wanted to test him and see how many times he would have forgotten that he had already given her the medicine. Since his ailment was well rooted, however, he did not realize it, and killed his wife by force of injecting her with an overdose of medication. Leonard is therefore not even aware that the man to blame who he is looking for does not exist, and that it was his action.

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