A Psychological Viewpoint on Memento

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Memento is an American psychological thriller adapted from a short story, Memento Mori written by James Nolan. The story displays the life of Leonard Shelby. Shelby has anterograde Amnesia brought about by an injury to his head. He suffered this injury while confronting two people who attacked his wife at their home in the middle of the night. Leonard kills one of the attackers during the attack, although the second one escapes. Due to the injury and resultant amnesia, the last thing Leonard remembers is his wife dying. He is unable to remember new information after that day. The movie shows how he devotes his life to finding and killing the second attacker.

The movie uses a unique presentation style where the director starts with a particular event in present (completion of protagonist’s revenge) and builds the story by linking a series of flashbacks of what events transpire the current situation. This mirrors the way our protagonist actually lives his life. Due to his memory impairment, Shelby relies on the various clues around him and links them to his past to create a sense of reality and purpose. He reconstructs his life everyday by using the clues on his body, photographs and notes. The movie leaves a doubt at the end whether what he saw as real may have been a figment of his imagination and not totally true or real. In this psychological thriller, the director very richly portrays the life of people with memory impairments.

LEONARD SHELBY is a former insurance investigator in the San Francisco-Bay Area, searching for his wife's killer. He is very organized and meticulous in his approach. His past job as an investigator makes him good at problem solving and analysis of clues. The story shows that although he cannot remember new information, he is aware of his problems and compensated effectively by constantly relying on a structured routine, using pictures and notes (also some rather permanent clues in the form of tattoos on his body)....
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