It may seem odd, but one of my favorite movies is Memento(2000), the story of a man, Leonard, who has short term memory loss and how he sets out to avenge the murder of his wife. Leonard’s condition makes it impossible for him to hold on to information for long, so as he acquires information about the crime he desperately tries to make it permanent: snapshots via Polaroid camera stuffed into his pockets, scraps of paper or coasters from bars wedged into a folder, or sometimes tattoos embossed onto his body.
I am not a fan of violence or blood or crime flicks…but this film has always stuck with me. The interplay between the color and the black and white sequences with the black and white sequences proceeding in chronological order, while the color sequences move in reverse chronological order was amazing. Those scenes alternate and intertwine until they meet in the middle of the story, which is also the end of the film. The viewer feels like Leonard..trying to hold on to information, trying to piece together random bits that seem not to interconnect. Until they do.
In researching this film (and watching it again) I discovered this little nugget via IMDB:
In the two disc DVD set, the second disc contains the movie in chronological order. To play this version of the movie: (1) select the clock icon; (2) select the answer “C” to every multiple choice question; and (3) arrange the tire changing steps in reverse chronological order (3-4-1-2). The movie will then begin to play (with the credits first – in backward order). Some functions (fast forward, chapter skip, etc.) are disabled.
I plan to try that out.
I wanted to use a scene from the film that showed the Polaroid pictures developing (and then un-developing), but the only one I could find was of a dead, bloody body. Too much blood.
But then I found this scene and thought, okay, this might work. It’s the first of Leonard’s tattoos we see in the movie, and it’s that memory that drives him to keep staying on track as best he can. He does not want to be Sammy Jankis, and yet… This memory sticks, and haunts him throughout the film.
Some of my favorite quotes:
“How can I heal…how am I supposed to heal…if I can’t feel time?”
“Memory can change the shape of a room; it can change the color of a car. And memories can be distorted. They’re just an interpretation, they’re not a record, and they’re irrelevant if you have the facts. ”