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Title: Memory%20and%20Identity

Memory and Identity
  • HUM 3280 Narrative Film
  • Fall 2014
  • Dr. Perdigao
  • November 10-12, 2014

Memento (2000)
  • Director Christopher Nolan
  • Writer Christopher Nolan (screenplay) Jonathan
    Nolan (short story Memento Mori)
  • Memento Mori (Remember your mortality,
    Remember that you must die)
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  • Leonard Shelby Guy Pearce
  • Natalie Carrie-Ann Moss
  • Teddy Gammell Joe Pantoliano
  • Leonards wife Jorja Fox
  • Sammy Jankis Stephen Tobolowsky
  • Mrs. Jankis Harriet Sansom Harris
  • Dodd Callum Keith Rennie
  • Jimmy Larry Holden
  • Anterograde Amnesia

  • This astonishing scene at once solves one part
    of the movies puzzle but creates a new one in
    its place. For the first, we understand that
    Nolan has upended the conventions of the film
    noir, in which a flawed hero tries to find some
    measure of justice in an unjust world. Leonard
    has suddenly become an Everyman in a potentially
    infinite purgatory, blindly trying to revenge an
    act that has already been avenged, and finding
    himself manipulated, over and over, by people who
    would use a splendidly configured avenger for
    their own ends. (It has been hinted along the way
    that even Teddys death may be the handiwork of
    another manipulator, with a few hints pointing at
    Natalie as the possible perpetrator.)
  • As Leonard himself tells Teddy fairly early on,
    Memorys unreliable Memorys not perfect. Its
    not even that good. Ask the police eyewitness
    testimony is unreliable Memory can change the
    shape of a room or the color of a car. Its an
    interpretation, not a record. Memories can be
    changed or distorted, and theyre irrelevant if
    you have the facts. This is the very heart of
    the film. Memento is a movie largely about
    memory the ways in which it defines identity,
    how its necessary to determine moral behavior
    and yet how terribly unreliable it is, despite
    its crucial role in our experience of the world.
  • In its own weird way, its also a tribute to
    grief. Grief is an emotion largely based on
    memory, of course. It is one of Mementos
    brilliant tangential themes that relief from
    grief is dependent on memory as well and that
    is one of the chief hells our unfathomable hero
    is subjected to. How am I supposed to heal if I
    cant feel time? Leonard asks.
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  • Leonard So where are you? Youre in some motel
    room. You just - you just wake up and youre in -
    in a motel room. Theres the key. It feels like
    maybe its just the first time youve been there,
    but perhaps youve been there for a week, three
    months. Its its kind of hard to say. I
    dont - I dont know. Its just an anonymous
  • Leonard Memory can change the shape of a room
    it can change the color of a car. And memories
    can be distorted. Theyre just an
    interpretation, theyre not a record, and theyre
    irrelevant if you have the facts.
  • Altering identity
  • Teddy No, thats who you were. Maybe its time
    you started investigating yourself.
  • Grief works
  • Leonard How am I supposed to heal if I cannot
    feel time?
  • Leonard I cant remember to forget you.

It always comes back to Kevin Spacey
  • Ricky It was one of those days when its a
    minute away from snowing and theres this
    electricity in the air. You can almost hear it.
    Right? And this bag was just dancing with me.
    Like a little kid begging me to play with it. For
    fifteen minutes. Thats the day I realized that
    there was this. . . entire life behind things,
    and this incredibly benevolent force that wanted
    me to know there was no reason to be afraid,
    ever. Videos a poor excuse, I know. But it helps
    me remember. . . . I need to remember. . . .
    Sometimes theres so much beauty in the world, I
    feel like I cant take it, and my heart is just
    going to cave in.

  • I had always heard your entire life flashes in
    front of your eyes the second before you die.
    First of all, that one second isnt a second at
    all it stretches on forever, like an ocean of
    time. . . . For me, it was lying on my back at
    Boy Scout camp, watching falling stars. . . And
    yellow leaves, from the maple trees, that lined
    our street. . . Or my grandmothers hands, and
    the way her skin seemed like paper. . . . And the
    first time I saw my cousin Tonys brand new
    Firebird. . . And Janie. . . And Janie. . . And.
    . . Carolyn. I guess I could be pretty pissed
    off about what happened to me. . . but its hard
    to stay mad, when theres so much beauty in the
    world. Sometimes I feel like Im seeing it all
    at once, and its too much. My heart fills up
    like a balloon thats about to burst. . . . And
    then I remember to relax, and stop trying to hold
    on to it, and then it flows through me like rain
    and I cant feel anything but gratitude for every
    single moment of my stupid little life. . . You
    have no idea what Im talking about, Im sure.
    But dont worry. . . you will someday.
  • First four ellipses as gunshots
  • Remembering cinematically? To audience?

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All Things Meta
  • Motel clerk Its all backwards.
  • Leonard I always thought the pleasure in a book
    is wanting to know what happens next.
  • Teddy You dont want the truth. You make up
    your own truth.
  • Teddy It was complete when I gave it to you.
    Who took out the twelve pages?
  • Leonard You, probably.
  • Teddy No, it wasnt me. It was you.
  • Leonard Why would I do that?
  • Teddy To create a puzzle you could never

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  • Leonard Im not a killer. Im just someone who
    wanted to make things right. Can I just let
    myself forget what youve told me? Can I just let
    myself forget what youve made me do? You think
    I just want another puzzle to solve? Another John
    G. to look for? Youre John G. So you can be my
    John G. . . Will I lie to myself to be happy? In
    your case Teddy. . . Yes, I will.
  • Leonard I have to believe in a world outside my
    own mind. I have to believe that my actions still
    have meaning, even if I cant remember them. I
    have to believe that when my eyes are closed, the
    worlds still there. Do I believe the worlds
    still there? Is it still out there? . . . Yeah.
    We all need mirrors to remind ourselves who we
    are. Im no different.

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Frame Jobs
  • Power and authority
  • Gender, sexuality
  • Indeterminancy in roles, plot
  • Voiceover, flashback
  • Unreliable narrators
  • Darkness and corruption
  • Paranoia and entrapment

Neo Noir (Contemporary Film Noir)
  • A Clockwork Orange (1971)
  • The Godfather (1972)
  • Chinatown (1974)
  • Taxi Driver (1976)
  • Body Heat (1981)
  • Blade Runner (1982)
  • Brazil (1985)
  • Angel Heart (1987)
  • Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988)
  • Batman (1989)
  • The Two Jakes (1990)
  • Reservoir Dogs (1992)
  • The Usual Suspects (1995)
  • Mulholland Falls (1996)
  • L.A. Confidential (1997)
  • Dark City (1998)
  • American Psycho (2000)
  • Memento (2000)
  • Mulholland Drive (2001)

Neo Noir (Contemporary Film Noir)
  • Road to Perdition (2002)
  • The Man Who Wasnt There (2002)
  • Kill Bill Vol. 1 (2003)
  • Mystic River (2003)
  • Sin City (2005)
  • Batman Begins (2005)
  • Lucky Number Slevin (2006)
  • The Black Dahlia (2006)
  • Miami Vice (2006)
  • The Departed (2006)
  • American Gangster (2007)
  • No Country for Old Men (2007)
  • Gone Baby Gone (2007)
  • The Dark Knight (2008)
  • The Spirit (2008)
  • Shutter Island (2010)
  • The Town (2010)

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