Christopher Nolan, regarded as one of the greatest filmmakers of all time, has made some of the best movies. From the superhero movie trilogy The Dark Knight to the blockbuster biographical film Oppenheimer, he has proved his proficiency as a filmmaker numerous times.

Christopher Nolan
Christopher Nolan | Credits: Wikimedia Commons/HellaCinema

Nolan’s first feature film was Memento, and it is perhaps safe to say that he has been a master of art since day one. Not only did the movie gain critical appreciation and commercial success but also solidified the director’s position as a filmmaker. Apart from the appreciation from the movie critics, the movie also impressed neuroscientists. However, a video of the Tenet director’s explanation of the plotline with a visual illustration might leave some confused.

Christopher Nolan’s Explanation of Memento‘s Plotline Might Confuse Some

Christopher Nolan's Memento
A still from Memento | Source: Newmarket

It is no secret that Christopher Nolan is a filmmaking genius. His entire filmography of extremely well-made movies stands as proof of that. However, like many other geniuses, his way of doing things or even the films he makes often leaves people surprised because, at times, it is not what people expect and keeps the audience hooked.

Although Nolan was fairly new to filmmaking when he made the movie Memento, the viewers were nothing short of enamored with what he had made. For those unversed, the movie follows a man suffering from anterograde amnesia using a system of tattoos, handwritten notes, and photographs to track down the person responsible for his condition and his wife’s murder. Starring Guy Pearce in the lead role and Carrie Anne-Moss as his wife, the movie earned approximately $40 million (via The Numbers).

This might sound like just another movie, but the non-linear structure it follows is what sets it apart. In a video posted on X, Nolan can be seen explaining the plotline through a visual illustration. In the video, he draws a hairpin-like structure on a chalkboard to explain the plotline with markings on it.

The filmmaker looks at ease explaining the whole thing, but it might not be just as easy for the viewers to understand what he is trying to convey. It is an explanation of the non-linear narrative of the movie, which is depicted as two different sequences of events- the first of them is in black and white in chronological order and the next one in color in reverse order, with some scenes of events that have happened in the timeline before the film’s beginning.

Neuroscientists Praised Memento for the Representation of the Memory System

Carrie Anne-Moss and Guy Pearce in a still from Memento | Source: Newmarket
Carrie Anne-Moss and Guy Pearce in a still from Memento | Source: Newmarket

The movie’s protagonist, as mentioned earlier, suffered from anterograde amnesia. This is a memory disorder in which the affected person suffers from short-term memory loss and the inability to form new memories, after an event that caused amnesia.

According to Science Blogs, representatives from the National Institute of Mental Health claimed the film is “close to a perfect exploration of the neurobiology of memory”. Additionally, clinical neuropsychologist  Sallie Baxendale writes in The BMJ (via the National Library of Medicine):

Unlike in most films in this genre, this amnesic character retains his identity, has little retrograde amnesia, and shows several of the severe everyday memory difficulties associated with the disorder. The fragmented, almost mosaic quality to the sequence of scenes in the film also reflects the ‘perpetual present’ nature of the syndrome.

There is no lack of movies made on such memory disorders, but it is important to note that Nolan’s portrayal of it might be the best so far. This speaks volumes about the director’s research and yearning to make the movie as realistic as possible.

Memento is available for streaming on Peacock and Hoopla.

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