Thursday, July 11, 2019

"Memento": Christopher Nolan's early thriller is a delicious plot layering experiment

Christopher Nolan’s early 2000 film “Memento” is interesting to me because it uses different presentations to show flashbacks in different time tracks. The technical term is sujet or syuzhet.

The protagonist Leonard Shelby (Guy Pearce) has anterograde amnesia, and is faced with solving a mystery of who killed his diabetic wife (Carrie-Ann Moss), from polaroid photos.

The film presents two timelines.  A forward timeline of what he can remember is in black and white. 

 A reverse timeline of what he cannot is reconstructed in color from photos, and the two timelines converge and meet in the middle.

He also pastes photos to his own body, shaving his thigh to get them to stay on like stickypads. In fact, he also uses body art (tattoos or deep ink drawings) on smooth skin as memory aids. 
In my screenplay “Epiphany”, the current timeline (in an O’Neill cylinder) is in sepia color;  the real past events on Earth are in full color, and the imagined fiction backstories are in black and white.
The film was released by New Market (one of its first releases) but produced by Summit.

By Dr Steve Aprahamian - Picture of a chart created in Microsoft Excel, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

Second picture:  somewhat similar color-coded backstory analysis of my own screenplay 

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