Memento as a Film About Memory Loss

222 views 5 pages ~ 1349 words
Get a Custom Essay Writer Just For You!

Experts in this subject field are ready to write an original essay following your instructions to the dot!

Hire a Writer

Leonard's Contemplation and Vengeance

Leonard is seen driving away in Teddy's car before pulling over to get his latest tattoo of the license plate. Leonard is seen contemplating his existence, his identity, and the meaning of his actions. His contemplation stands out as the main plot of the concluding scene before he pulls over to get a tattoo. Since Leonard's wife is dead, his life is a wreck, and his pursuit of the killer is the only thing that gives his life meaning. As Leonard drives away from the murder scene, he keeps thinking to himself "I have to believe that my actions still have meaning, even if I can't remember them." Therefore, he chooses to use Teddy as his next target of vengeance since he can't quite make of his wife's murder. Leonard is a regular guy, and not a natural killer and his only motivation in killing is just so as to avenge his wife. As a result, Teddy confidently tells him that "You won't hurt me…you're not a killer" (Nolan).

The Confusing Conclusion Scene

The sixteen-minute conclusion scene is very confusing, as the events take place in alternating events, with some in black and white and others being colored. The scene requires multiple viewings since the narrative structure and plot outline used is reversed as a result of Leonard's struggle with memory loss. Additionally, the scene goes back and forth in time as a means to help Leonard keep up with the reality which his memory cannot register. Despite the complex narrative structure and plot development, a number of cinematography techniques are used to help deliver the story and to build on the protagonist's character. Overall, the concluding scene of Memento employs the use of Polaroid photography, reverse plot lines, and narrative structure as fundamental filmmaking techniques to address the film's wider themes and to develop Leonard's character.

The Use of Reverse Plot Lines

The use of reverse plot lines is predominantly used in Memento's conclusion scene to help the reader's to better understand Leonard's character. The conclusion scene occurs in a non-linear backward chronological event that takes place in black and white scenes after Leonard takes a picture of the dying Jimmy. Throughout the scene, the story employs two different plot lines which are represented in different colors. The main plot occurs in full color whereas the sub-plot employs the use of a black and white monochrome. The two plot lines contrast with each other, where the main plot follows a non-linear sequence by starting the story backward whereas the subplot takes on a chronological sequence which significantly contrasts with the main plot. After watching the scene, one barely gets the direction of the storyline but generally gets the idea that the reverse chronological order of the color sequences is intended to offer more insights on Leonard's condition. Besides, since Leonard suffers from short-term memory loss, the reverse plot lines helps the viewers to experience his condition through the going backs and forth between the two contrasting storylines. Hence, the use of the contrasting color sequences as well as the use of the reverse plot lines helps the audience to experience the same type of disorientating state that Leonard encounters every few minutes. Hence, with every reverse plotline, the film offers a different inlet into Leonard's world. The scene requires a critical understanding of Leonard's character in the different world to help in better understanding the story and pushing the narrative. Therefore, through the use of the reverse plot lines, the film succeeds in effectively representing Leonard's character and also in reinforcing the importance of the narration sequence and the use of Polaroid photographs.

The Role of Polaroid Photography

Additionally, the film's conclusion scene capitalizes on the use of polaroid photograph as a key storyline element and filmmaking technique. The use of Polaroid photography serves as a key feature used throughout the scene. Leonard clings to the photographs as a means to help him survive throughout the film. The film includes different close-ups of the Polaroid photographs as if to emphasize their vital role in Leonard's life and to the audience in helping them to understand the film better. Just as Leonard's tattoos, the Polaroid photographs are meant to emphasize Leonard's reliance on tangible evidence for his actions and behaviors throughout the film. The Polaroid photographs help to give meaning to Leonard's character as he relies on them for his present reality and for essential details on the man he is chasing to take his revenge. Leonard's reliance on Polaroid photographs serves as his evidence of a time that once existed but is gone, and since he suffers from memory loss, the photographs are thus timeless to him as they give him new memories, as they bridge the time constraint between the past and the present. The use of the Polaroid photographs, therefore, plays a crucial role in the plot development and better revealing of Leonard's revenge plot.

The Importance of Narrative Structure

Furthermore, the film capitalizes on the use of narrative structure to illustrate the difference in time and to further develop the storyline. The film uses a fragment non-linear narrative structure to help the viewers to understand the protagonist better. The narrative structure is used to help the viewers to become detectives themselves as they strive to piece the different stories together. The conclusion scene constantly presents the notion of past and present since Leonard has a distorted timeline. The going back and forth in time throughout the film helps to capture on the plot sequence as well as the narration style. Additionally, the film presents a reversed version of the cause and effect narration, where the viewers get to encounter the effect first before the cause. Such is intentional to make Leonard understand the story since his memory is disorderly and fractured. The film employs the use of dialogue as a technique to marry Leonard and the other characters. For example, the dialogue between Leonard and Teddy, serves as a critical narrative structure, to help Leonard to understand better the dynamics involving his wife's death and, on the person, he should take his vengeance on. The use of the narrative structure is thus unique as it takes on a complex outlook which helps to draw the attention of the viewers into the film. Leonard's amnesia problem, as well as his pitiful attempts to solve his wife's murder, are well put together to help push the narrative. Hence, the film intentionally employs the reverse narrative structure and the use of the alternative colors and monochromes to make the viewers just as confused as Leonard is in figuring out everything about his wife.


In conclusion, as evidenced above, the concluding scene of Memento employs the use of Polaroid photography, reverse plot lines, dialogue and narration as essential filmmaking techniques to address the film's broader themes and to develop Leonard's character. The film uses Leonard's disoriented character to tie multiple plot lines together, to better deliver the importance of Leonard's Polaroid photographs and the use of a reverse narrative structure. Additionally, the film positions the Polaroid photographs and the reverse plot lines at the center of Leonard's character as a means to emphasize Leonard's role and the plot development. Unlike all the other characters, Leonard's role as the main character is challenging and different since he must find a way to connect his past and his present yet he suffers from memory loss. Leonard's struggle to keep up with the reality is captured in his Polaroid photographs and the reverse plot structure. Therefore, the different filmmaking techniques such as the use of the reverse plot lines, characterization, the use of Polaroid photographs and narration are all intentionally used to create an overall chaotic and layered effect to the film, while constructing Leonard's complex character. As a result, a full grasp and understanding of the film are somewhat difficult as it occurs backward, all in all, the different filmmaking elements employed in the film help to bring out a compelling and well layered out film on personality dissociation.

Works Cited

Nolan, Christopher. Memento. 2000. FILM

September 25, 2023




Subject area:

Film Analysis

Number of pages


Number of words




Writer #



Expertise Film Analysis
Verified writer

Samuel has helped me on several occasions with my college assignments. It has been both simple and complex for my Cinematography course. He is a creative person who will always inspire you. When you need a person to boost your forces, contact Samuel.

Hire Writer

This sample could have been used by your fellow student... Get your own unique essay on any topic and submit it by the deadline.

Eliminate the stress of Research and Writing!

Hire one of our experts to create a completely original paper even in 3 hours!

Hire a Pro