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Memento | English Film | Movie Reviews

Do you know “Memento Mori” is the Latin phrase which can be translated as “Remember your mortality”, “Remember you must die” or “Remember you will die”. Jonathan Nolan wrote a short story with the same title “Memento Mori” which was published in the March 2001 edition of Esquire magazine.

Jonathan got the idea of this story when he was attending psychology class at Georgetown University. Once when he was traveling with his brother Christopher, he conveyed him the idea and he responded positively and encouraged him. A few months later he sent his brother a draft of the same and that was the base of the film named “Memento” directed by Christopher Nolan (of course). There are the differences in the original story and the film for the matter of the fact.

Movie : Memento
Director : Christopher Nolan
Director : Jonathan Nolan
Released On : September 5, 2000 (Venice); March 16, 2001 (USA)
Actors : Guy Pearce, Carrie-Anne Moss, Joe Pantoliano, Russ Fega, Jorja Fox, Stephen Tobolowsky, Harriet Sansom Harris, Thomas Lennon, Callum Keith Rennie, Kimberly Campbell, Marianne Muellerleile, Larry Holden and others

It is the story of man named Leonard Shelby who had anterograde amnesia (where a person loss his/her ability to store new explicit memories). The story is presented in the non-linear way (where two different series of actions running parallel in the order reverse to each other). Here Christopher presents the story in Black-and-White sequence and the Color sequence to make it easy for the viewer to distinguish both. One series runs in the chronological order and other runs in the reverse chronological order.

The story moves ahead in the black and white belongs to not only Leonard but Sammy also. Let us look at the connection between Leonard and Sammy. Leonard Shelby was in a motel room. As he was having anterograde amnesia, he was unable to make new memories, so he keeps forgetting the details in a short time span. To overcome the situation and keep himself organized he developed a mechanism to take photos of the places associated with him, writing down the notes onto the same, and most important things to be tattooed on himself. He was though remembering everything happened before he was a victim of anterograde amnesia.

The last memory he has (or the last thing he remember) was his wife was brutally killed after a rape in the bathroom and when tried saving her by killing the killer, he was attacked from behind on his head. The sharp and tough shot by something on his head affected his neural system and he was unable to make new memories then after. He was there in the motel room and was explaining on the phone to someone the case of Sammy. Sammy was diagnosed with Anterograde Amnesia after a car accident. As Leonard was working as an insurance investigator he was assigned the work to find out the truth in Sammy’s case. By observing the behavior of Sammy, Leonard come to the conclusion that he was not having a physical defect. As it was a psychological barrier rather than the physical defect, his company need not to pay the medical bills of Sammy. Leonard’s work resulted into saving a large amount of the money for the company and he got a good bonus too.

However Sammy’s wife was having full trust on Sammy, she didn’t believe that Sammy is faking or something. So decided to go beyond the limit to test Sammy’s neurological system and make his memory system working again. She was a diabetic and she need to have insulin injections on specific intervals. She played with the clock and asked Sammy to inject her again and again, with the hope that it may trigger the nerve system of Sammy in one or the other way. Though Sammy was actually unable to record new incidents he was not aware with the stuff by any means that he injected the insulin to her before a few minutes only. He innocently kept paying his duty by injecting her again and again. This was resulted into fatal incidents. Sammy’s wife was fell into a coma and then died.

The stuff made a huge impact on Leonard. He started thinking that he is also somehow responsible for the incident.

But this is the Sammy’s tale and Leonard’s association with the same. What is Leonard’s tale then? Who was responsible for the events happened with his wife and himself? Will he ever be able to find out the person? And does taking the revenge can ever give him the feelings of satisfaction? He was not going to remember anything. So how will it be justified to him anyway? Teddy and Natalie are the people interacting with him. Both are claiming their own version of the story and it is tough to find who was genuine from them.

Of course the people who watched it, knows the rest of the story and the end of the same too, so we are not going into the details for the same. It is better watching yourself. Sometimes when you watch the movie again and again everytime you may see a new hint, a new aspect of the same.

It is a psychological thriller in one aspect. The film was considered as one of the best movies which gave justice to the anterograde amnesia in any motion picture. Some dialogs related to memories, proofs and evidence, our version of the facts are really thought-provoking.

Some interesting facts to note about the movie are:

  • It was nominated in the Original Screenplay¬† for the Academy Awards, because the short story of Jonathan Nolan was not published before the film was released. (Otherwise it has to made an entry as Adapted Screenplay).
  • The movie was nominated for Original Screenplay and Editing two categories for Academy awards but was able to conquer none of them!
  • It won several awards from Chicago Film Critics Association and Sundance Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award.
  • Brad Pitt was offered the title role earlier, but due to some schedule conflicts he was unable to do it!
  • The official website for the film was designed by Jonathan Nolan! (The site name is also in reverse chronological order – http://www.otnemem.com/)
  • Christopher Nolan edited the film’s trailers himself!
  • The shooting took place from September 7 2009 to October 8, 1999. All the scenes of Carrie Anne Moss (playing Natalie) completed in the first week itself! Guy Pearce was present there on each day of shooting!
  • The impressive performance of Carrie Anne Moss as Trinity in “The Matrix” series was a reason to be her the part of this film! She suggested Joe Pantoliano (her co-star in The Matrix) to be part of Memento!
  • This movie have inspired Tamil film (in India) -Ghajini (Starring Suriya Sivakumar, and Asin Thottumkal) – released in 2005; which was dubbed into Telugu also (India) and then was remade in Hindi also (as Bollywood Movie – starring Aamir Khan and Asin Thottumkal as protagonists – released in year 2008); all the versions were commercial hits.

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