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Postmodernism and Film Structure

Memento (2000) Directed by Christopher Nolan

Figure 1 Memento Movie Poster

Memento is a crime drama postmodern film that follows the protagonist Leonard
(Lenny) in his mission to chase down the man who raped and killed his wife. His
main obstacle being himself, the night his wife was murdered he suered an injury
which resulted in short term memory loss - he has the disability of making new
memories. Nolan exaggerates Leonards disability by altering our experience of the
film by how he structured the film, as you can tell from the movie poster it is a meta
narrative - stories within stories or in this case memories within memories. We are
dropped into the story which begins at the end and the journey of this story is
discovering how he got to his present day situation. Lenny cant remember anything
for long and repeats his story to everyone he meets even though theyve heard it so
many times before, we see him rediscover the same things: his photos with hand
written captions below telling him who he knows, details about his recent days,
hints tattooed all over his body about his investigation as he cant risk losing his
notes, his investigation file etc, allowing us to empathise with his struggle to be
axiomatic. The audience know just as much as Lenny does to begin with, we hear

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How did I get here? Often which acts as a conjunction between scenes, we
discover the next plot point by being dropped into another scene that begins where
we rediscover Lennys updated situation and ends with the scene the previous one
started with then being cut o as we already know what happens next - this
regularly disconnects the audience from time, order and reality.

Figure 2 Leonards Tattoos

In what would is normally a linear structure in a ABCDEF order becomes non linear
and fragmented as EFCDAB, starting at the end but dropped into a scene to explain
the one before meaning it cant start at F. It lacks rising and falling action - it is
consistent throughout making the plot an anti plot, it is inconsistent with reality
especially with time alongside the denouement - how things add up seem to be
coincidences between realities, in addition to this plot challenging the rules of an
arc plot. A dierence in time and realities are explicitly shown when Leonard is in his
hotel room but its in black and white, hes on the phone telling a story almost
parallel to the one being shown in colour in the build up to the twist in the
denouement which ends openly, Teddy tells Lenny his wife wasnt killed the day he
got his injury, it wasnt one guy committing a crime it was two - the second one
being the one who gave Lenny his injury. It is because of his schizoid memories he
cant remember anything after that he believed her to be dead. His wife was a
diabetic and he used to give her, her insulin shots, its because of his short term
memory he cant remember she survived. When we see Sammy overdose his wife
with insulin shots in her attempt to catch him out on a blu about faking his own
mental illness and failed, Teddy tells Lenny, Sammy didnt even have a wife it was
his wife who was the diabetic which he had seemed to erase from his memory, it
was him who overdosed his wife because she couldnt live with his mental state.

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Figure 3 Leonard and natalie

The audience get no closure and are left to make their own decisions, nothing is
resolved and Lenny will only forget making this story, his story, depthless. We know
the people in Leonards life are flippant towards his condition, the guy who runs the
inn charges Lenny for two rooms and hes led to believe hes only paying for one,
Natalie and Teddy make him weary of their intentions, Natalie verbally assaults
Leonard about him and his wife so he punches her - she waits in the car for a bit
until his memory span runs out and tells him someone else did it so that hed go
after them and get himself killed, Teddy gets him to kill people by leading him to
believe they are his wifes killers and he is willing to do so since his wifes death is
always fresh in his mind and his emotions raw. The story as a whole has an
unreliable narrator as well as unreliable characters who make the audience skeptical
and cant believe any answers oered to us - anything could be fabulation, all we
know for certain is nothing has been resolved for Leonard - or us.

Illustration List

Figure 1. Memento Movie Poster (2000). [Poster] At: https://imgur.com/gallery/eCZ6f


(Accessed on14th October 2017)

Figure 2. Leonards Tattoo. At: http://www.playbuzz.com/


paramountchannellatinoamerica/8-pel-culas-que-se-ponen-mejor-cuando-las-
miras-por-segunda-vez (Accessed on14th October 2017)

Figure 3. Leonard and Natalie. At: https://addyronnie.wordpress.com/2014/11/19/


memento-2000-a-picture-is-worth-a-thousand-words/ (Accessed on14th October
2017)

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