Monday, 14 April 2014

Film Review: Memento

Memento (2000) 113min

(Figure 1: Memento Film Poster)

Memento is a 2000 psychological thriller and neo-noir film directed and written by Christopher Nolan. The film revolves around the chaotic life of Leonard Shelby, a man with anterograde amnesia after been hit in the head by a man who murdered his wife. This condition impairs his ability to store new explicit memories for no more than a few seconds, which leads him to develop a unique system for recollection using hand-written notes, tattoos and Polaroid photos to ultimately hunt down and 'deal' with his wife's killer.

(Figure 2: Shelby's thigh tattoos)

What is normally associated within film towards 'black and white' scenes is that of the past, flashbacks and old memories. However, in Memento, the black and white scenes are shown chronologically; yet the colour scenes are shown in reverse. "Nolan built a better mousetrap of a neo-noir, using the tricky gimmick of a complex, purposefully disorienting narrative." (P. Canavese, 2001) This technique starts of tricky to understand, however the big plot twist where both story lines come together suddenly highlights key moments of the film in all their glory. It creates an atmosphere for the audience to think about what is really happening, and what is true.

(Figure 3: Shelby's 'real-time' phone call)

Within the continued black and white scene where we see Shelby on the phone, there is a strong atmospheric tension between Shelby, the person on the phone, and to the audience. "Nolan's skill lies in creating an atmosphere for this story." (J. M. Anderson, 2003) The audience at particular parts can become to feel as up-tight, nervous and as confused as Shelby, emphasized by close up camera shots. This becomes a strong part for the films big finale; with this scene becoming shorter and shorter as the film progresses.

(Figure 4: Teddy's Polaroid)

Another mysterious character featured within Memento, is a man referenced as 'Teddy'. We first associate him as the antagonist; yet by the end of the film, Teddy is no longer who we first thought. "A joyously twisted Rubik's Cube of a movie."  (S. Weinberg, 2001) As the story slowly exposes it's roots to the meanings behind Shelby's notes, we begin to see everything unfold to expose the real meaning of his lies.

To conclude, Memento is what most could consider as their ultimate fear. The fear of not being able to move on with their lives; forever stuck in an endless circle of their worst nightmare. Constantly reminded, yet never being able to forgive what you can't forget. It captures the thoughts of any audience to make you constantly think about what is the truth, and what is inside your head.


Anderson. Jeffrey M. (2003) Memento Film Review URL At:

Canavese. Peter (2001) Memento Film Review: URL At:

Weinberg. Scott: (2001) Memento Film Review URL At:

Illustration List:

Fig. 1. Memento Film Poster (2000)  From: Memento Directed by: Christopher Nolan [Poster] United States. Summit Entertainment. URL At:

Fig. 2. Shelby's thigh tattoos (2000)  From: Memento Directed by: Christopher Nolan [Film Still] United States. Summit Entertainment. URL At:

Fig. 3. Shelby's 'real-time' phone call (2000) From: Memento Directed by: Christopher Nolan [Film Still] United States. Summit Entertainment. URL At:

Fig. 4. Teddy's Polaroid (2000) From: Memento Directed by: Christopher Nolan [Film Still] United States. Summit Entertainment. URL At:

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