This Video that Explains Why Christopher Nolan’s Memento Works So Well in Reverse
Lessons From the Screenplay popped up on YouTube last year with really cool break downs of just what makes some of the most beloved stories on screen successful. The newest study explores just how Christopher Nolan made his breakout film Memento. It’s one of the most memorable revenge stories ever told by working backwards.
The story is essentially about Leonard (Guy Pearce) trying to avenge his wife’s murder while struggling with short term memory loss. What could be a pretty typical tale of retribution becomes a really engaging suspense story, thanks to Leonard’s completely unreliable memory. Nolan disorients the viewer at the beginning of each scene, then as one question is answered, another is created, forever propelling the audience back in time. This method, the video explains, isn’t just a gimmick. It’s a well thought out and engaging storytelling device.
Nolan used color to move chronologically backward through the film, and black and white when things were moving forward. LFTS reveals that those black and white scenes, which primarily show Leonard on the phone telling the story of Sammy Jankis, ties the whole narrative together. The video takes all of the pieces in the order they occurred chronologically and shows how they break apart and actually play out on screen.
Also interesting is looking at some of the major reveals and realizing how far apart a question is asked and answered in the actual script. It was overall an incredible feat that only Nolan could have pulled off (with a major assist from his brother, Jonathan, the co-creator of Westworld and the man who wrote the short story the film is based on). Check out the video for the full analysis of what made Memento so captivating.
Featured image: Director/writer/producer CHRISTOPHER NOLAN on the set of the Warner Bros. Pictures action thriller “DUNKIRK,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release. Photo Credit: Melinda Sue Gordon