Memento: A Study in Film

Memento_Wallpaper

The realization that film has its own art form as well as its own literary aspects has had many go into the film studies field, studying media such as movies and TV shows, as one would study literature. Each movie has a set structure to follow somewhat of a plot diagram (exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, and resolution) with a few extra markers in-between that make film studies its own discipline. Few movies deviate from this set structure and fewer deviate and actually are able to successfully create a unique film. Memento is one of these films. It has significant differences that disturb the conventions of contemporary filmmaking.

The film starts with the narrative being in pieces; the protagonist does not have use of his short-term memory. Since there are these periods of not knowing within the character and the audience, the movie slowly takes us from the end of the story to the very beginning in an attempt to give us answers. In reality, the ending of the movie leaves the audience with more questions. One important question asked is “do we trust Teddy?”. A central theme of trust is brought out through the work: Can we trust the people surrounding Lenny? Can we even trust Lenny? Can Lenny trust himself? As the audience, we must determine if we can trust our narrator/protagonist and the characters around him. We see the pictures with the messages left behind from his past experiences, but there is a feeling that something could be wrong here. Lenny’s story can go in any direction and there may not be any truth to anything he has told us; once the audience sees Natalie take advantage of his condition, we can see that there are vast possibilities. It makes the people in the audience become detective-like, searching for little clues to point us in the right direction.

These types of movies are supposed to be categorized as puzzles, so moments of confusion can be completely expected in viewing something of this genre. But Memento has a unique spin that can cause more confusion than anything else; this movie does not follow the typical movie structure. The whole story is told in reverse. Some movies have been known to reveal the ending at the start, but the creators normally start in chronological order directly after the revelation. Memento gives viewers a memory plus a little bit more to the story leading up to where we left off and then, back tracks even further through Lenny’s events to eventually bring the film to its end. I believe this film is definitely different because of the narration and how sequences of events are relayed to the audience. The way it has been constructed can definitely throw people off if he or she does not pay close attention to the little subtleties. For example, the information Teddy tells Lenny or the events that transpire between Natalie and Lenny. The little intricacies are key to keeping this film successful in its unparalleled structure.

Memento definitely brings a contrast to other films, in which makes it intriguing. Viewers want to solve the puzzle and I think that’s why it works; it gives the audiences parts of a whole to put back together which can excite the mind. The work makes people think; one has to actually use his or her head to be a part of the story as it travels. The near reversal of the plot diagram structure that most films follow is not seen elsewhere making Memento its own. Delightfully, Memento contrasts from the usual stories and angles movies go by making it a very unique film.

The realization that film has its own art form as well as its own literary aspects has had many go into the film studies field, studying media such as movies and TV shows, as one would study literature. Each movie has a set structure to follow somewhat of a plot diagram (exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, and resolution) with a few extra markers in-between that make film studies its own discipline. Few movies deviate from this set structure and fewer deviate and actually are able to successfully create a unique film. Memento is one of these films. It has significant differences that disturb the conventions of contemporary filmmaking.

The film starts with the narrative being in pieces; the protagonist does not have use of his short-term memory. Since there are these periods of not knowing within the character and the audience, the movie slowly takes us from the end of the story to the very beginning in an attempt to give us answers. In reality, the ending of the movie leaves the audience with more questions. One important question asked is “do we trust Teddy?”. A central theme of trust is brought out through the work: Can we trust the people surrounding Lenny? Can we even trust Lenny? Can Lenny trust himself? As the audience, we must determine if we can trust our narrator/protagonist and the characters around him. We see the pictures with the messages left behind from his past experiences, but there is a feeling that something could be wrong here. Lenny’s story can go in any direction and there may not be any truth to anything he has told us; once the audience sees Natalie take advantage of his condition, we can see that there are vast possibilities. It makes the people in the audience become detective-like, searching for little clues to point us in the right direction.

These types of movies are supposed to be categorized as puzzles, so moments of confusion can be completely expected in viewing something of this genre. But Memento has a unique spin that can cause more confusion than anything else; this movie does not follow the typical movie structure. The whole story is told in reverse. Some movies have been known to reveal the ending at the start, but the creators normally start in chronological order directly after the revelation. Memento gives viewers a memory plus a little bit more to the story leading up to where we left off and then, back tracks even further through Lenny’s events to eventually bring the film to its end. I believe this film is definitely different because of the narration and how sequences of events are relayed to the audience. The way it has been constructed can definitely throw people off if he or she does not pay close attention to the little subtleties. For example, the information Teddy tells Lenny or the events that transpire between Natalie and Lenny. The little intricacies are key to keeping this film successful in its unparalleled structure.

Memento definitely brings a contrast to other films, in which makes it intriguing. Viewers want to solve the puzzle and I think that’s why it works; it gives the audiences parts of a whole to put back together which can excite the mind. The work makes people think; one has to actually use his or her head to be a part of the story as it travels. The near reversal of the plot diagram structure that most films follow is not seen elsewhere making Memento its own. Delightfully, Memento contrasts from the usual stories and angles movies go by making it a very unique film.

  This post was written by Gabbi Battiloro.
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