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View Full Version : The Memento SPOILERS! Thread [revived zombie]


trose
04-15-2001, 06:10 PM
... not to be confused with the Go See MEMENTO! (http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?threadid=65528) thread. If you haven't seen the movie and want more information to decide, read that thread and some of its links. Believe me, this is a movie you don't want to know too much about before you see it.

But in this here thread we are gonna discuss some of the finer plot points, so this is your last warning! If you haven't seen the movie and you read any farther, your movie-going experience will be greatly diminished!

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So, about Sammy and Mrs. Sammy ...
This was pretty confusing. There was no Mrs. Sammy in real life? Leonard made her up as a stand-in for his own wife? (And was anyone else bothered that that poor woman was never named?) So then there IS at least one memory he was able to form after the attack, albeit in code. So his condition isn't entirely physical? But he can remember through conditioning, which is supposedly the difference between a physical and a psychosomatic version of this disorder. I'm not even sure what my question is, but this movie is a real mind-bender, and I'd love to hear other Dopers' thoughts.

Snooooopy
04-15-2001, 08:12 PM
My take on it was that the story Leonard tells of Sammy and Mrs. Sammy is really the story of Leonard and his own wife. In actuality, Leonards' wife is the one who couldn't deal with her husband's brain injury. Leonard's wife is the one who administered him the insulin test, and Leonard's wife is the one who died from insulin shock. Sammy just got jumbled into the mix of memories because of the similar conditions.

I had a hard time figuring out why Leonard decides to put himself on the trail of Officer Gammell. Is it because he wants to give himself something to do, to make his life meaningful?

Kaz
04-15-2001, 08:14 PM
I didn't quite catch exactly what happened in the end. So when teddy tells him all that stuff about like his wife being alive, just not being able to live with his condition, and that there is no Sammy, is that all true, or is Teddy just messin with him? Cause Teddy says that he's a police officer, but then he uses Lenny to just kill people...can we trust Teddy?

How does he go to the bar wher Natalie works, anyways? Does Natlaie know that Lenny killed Jimmy, so she sends Dodd after him?

Another real bummer, is that I walked in the movie like 5 min into it, the first thing i saw was Lenny with a gun to Teddy's head. What happened before that? I got sooo many questions, but damn did I love that movie!

Fiver
04-15-2001, 11:43 PM
My take on things was that, as Natalie said earlier (or later?) in the movie, Teddy was a crooked cop. He wanted Jimmy dead so he could get the money from the deal Jimmy had going with Dodd.

Teddy had a soft spot for Leonard, and so helped Leonard avenge his wife. But Leonard didn't remember avenging his wife, so Teddy has been arranging for Leonard to keep avenging her, over and over, to suit his purposes.

Presumably Teddy is a vice cop and he has Leonard kill drug dealers for him, then takes their money or drugs for himself. Teddy doesn't do the killings himself because Leonard, the man with brain damage, is a better fall guy if things go wrong.

Teddy's fatal mistake was to taunt Leonard to the point that Leonard wrote "Don't believe his lies" on his Polaroid of Teddy. That allowed Natalie to manipulate Leonard into killing Teddy.

Natalie thought Teddy killed her boyfriend Jimmy, because he was the last person she knew he was going to meet with before he disappeared.

I'm still not sure I understand the whole thing with Dodd.

Unresolved questions:

1) If Leonard can't form new memories, how does he know he has his "condition?" It's the first thing he tells everyone he meets.

2) When he doesn't know where he is or what he's doing, he reaches into his pocket for his Polaroids and notes for reminders. Fine. But how does he know the Polaroids are there? This is a man who rubs at his "Remember Sammy Jankis" tattoo every time he sees it. He can't remember he has reminder tattoos, but he can remember he's carrying Polaroids in his pockets?

Mind you, these are just nitpicks. I suspended my disbelief with regard to them very easily. The story would have been much more difficult to tell if the director hadn't let those two by.

MovieMogul
04-16-2001, 02:37 AM
Snooooopy says: In actuality, Leonards' wife is the one who couldn't deal with her husband's brain injury. Leonard's wife is the one who administered him the insulin test, and Leonard's wife is the one who died from insulin shock. Sammy just got jumbled into the mix of memories because of the similar conditions.
Actually, I don't think there was a Sammy at all--merely a mental construct to somehow account for Leonard's ability to remember something (the insulin incident) after the accident. Everything we see Sammy go through Leonard does "remember", but is so bent on logic that he doesn't believe it could be a memory of himself, because he does have this unchangeable "condition". I'm sure there are some holes in this theory, but one compelling instance is that when we see Sammy sitting in the institution, there is a flashcut when someone walks between him and the camera and we see someone that looks like Leonard sitting in the chair. I've only seen the film once, but that flashcut led me to guess early on that there was no "Sammy" at all.

I had a hard time figuring out why Leonard decides to put himself on the trail of Officer Gammell. Is it because he wants to give himself something to do, to make his life meaningful?
I think deep down Leonard knows that Teddy is telling the truth, but he also knows that the only way to get any real closure is to eliminate him--that way he'll have the "evidence" he needs (the photo we see in the film's first shot) without anyone there to remind him of the "facts".

Kaz says: How does he go to the bar wher Natalie works, anyways? Does Natlaie know that Lenny killed Jimmy, so she sends Dodd after him?
Leonard goes to the bar because Jimmy's jacket (which he's wearing) has the coaster in the pocket. I think Natalie knows something's up since Leonard is wearing Jimmy's jacket and driving his car, but I'm not sure she had any contact with Dodd--didn't Dodd first see Leonard in Jimmy's car on the road? If so, then he knows something's up since Lenny has his car and clothes. In this case, Natalie may want Dodd out of the way and uses Leonard to find him & get rid of him, as opposed to sending Dodd after Leonard. Not sure...

Another real bummer, is that I walked in the movie like 5 min into it, the first thing i saw was Lenny with a gun to Teddy's head. What happened before that? I got sooo many questions, but damn did I love that movie!

The first shot is that of a Polaroid slowly fading (the film running in reverse). We see the picture insert itself into the camera, the gun jump into Leonard's hand, the shell casing float up into the gun, and Teddy jump back up from his "fall". We hear Teddy yell out and the gun shot. Then the first B&W segment happens, so it sounds like you came in at the second memory "phase."

Fiver says: 2) When he doesn't know where he is or what he's doing, he reaches into his pocket for his Polaroids and notes for reminders. Fine. But how does he know the Polaroids are there? This is a man who rubs at his "Remember Sammy Jankis" tattoo every time he sees it. He can't remember he has reminder tattoos, but he can remember he's carrying Polaroids in his pockets?

I think that's where the whole conditioning thing comes in--by knowing that he must keep the same items in the same pockets all the time, the whole process of going through his pockets becomes instinctive, or second nature. This isn't unreasonable to assume if it has been over a year that he's been going through this process, certainly enough time to condition himself to behave this way.

1) If Leonard can't form new memories, how does he know he has his "condition?" It's the first thing he tells everyone he meets.

Well he does wake up not knowing where he is and does remember the accident ("last thing"). This, of course, reinforces the idea that there was some sort of incarnation of Sammy because he uses this as a point-of-reference, unless, like I stated earlier, explaining his "condition" is also a conditioned response, ingrained after doing it dozens of times a day for months and months. Hmm...

One of the things I like best is several references to Hitchcock's Psycho:

For the duration of the movie, there's a corpse in the "basement"
Someone asserts that our "hero" is harmless, when he in fact is a serial killer (of sorts)
Someone's in the shower when an attacker strikes
Our "hero" doesn't realize that there is a fortune's worth of money in the truck of a car

I'm sure there are more. Enjoyed Memento a lot and will definitely see it again.

MovieMogul
04-16-2001, 10:29 AM
Sorry, that should be trunk, not truck of a car.

Kaz
04-16-2001, 10:54 AM
Something else about the movie that I just recalled, everyonce in a while, usually during a very tense moment, there is a flash of (I think) the scene where he is just looking at his wife through the plastic. I assume this to be him recalling flashes of that time. However, later on in the movie, it shows the same scene, but this time we see that his wife blinks. What is the significance of these scenes, and are we sure that Teddy is telling the truth, that his wife is still alive and that she just disowned him? Becuse the blinking would lead to the fact that she was alive.

However, I for one don't trust Teddy, considering that he admits that he uses Lenny. Also I think that they (the producers) want you to not trust Teddy, ad try to accomplish this by lots of little things, like when Teddy calls Leonard "Lenny" and we know from before that he doens't like this name.

Another thing, in the end it shows the flashback of him with his wife, when he has tatoos all over his body. At this point, does he have the big tatoo across his chest that says "John G raped and murdered my wife"? Because if not, that would also lead us to believe that the wife is still alive, and that he was trying to search out the guy before, whe he was still with his wife.

Origionally posted by ArchiveGuy
quote:
Fiver says: 2) When he doesn't know where he is or what he's doing, he reaches into his pocket for his Polaroids and notes for reminders. Fine. But how does he know the Polaroids are there? This is a man who rubs at his "Remember Sammy Jankis" tattoo every time he sees it. He can't remember he has reminder tattoos, but he can remember he's carrying Polaroids in his pockets?



I think that's where the whole conditioning thing comes in--by knowing that he must keep the same items in the same pockets all the time, the whole process of going through his pockets becomes instinctive, or second nature. This isn't unreasonable to assume if it has been over a year that he's been going through this process, certainly enough time to condition himself to behave this way.

I agree, because he repeatedly talks about how routine and habit makes his life possible, and how he can condition himself through these methods. However, he says that this is unlike Sammy. How does that work, if there is no Sammy?

I also liked Carrie Anne Moss and the other guy from the Marix (I forget the name, played Cypher in the Martix, Teddy in Momento, y'allknow who I'm talking about), I felt like it was some kind of reunion! :)

trose
04-16-2001, 11:17 AM
Originally posted by Kaz
Something else about the movie that I just recalled, everyonce in a while, usually during a very tense moment, there is a flash of (I think) the scene where he is just looking at his wife through the plastic. I assume this to be him recalling flashes of that time. However, later on in the movie, it shows the same scene, but this time we see that his wife blinks. What is the significance of these scenes, and are we sure that Teddy is telling the truth, that his wife is still alive and that she just disowned him? Becuse the blinking would lead to the fact that she was alive.Up until this scene we've taken Leonard's word for it that his wife was raped and murdered. The flash of the wife blinking shows that she survived the attack, and what Teddy is saying (that she later arranged her own death at Leonard's hand) is true.

I think Teddy is telling the truth, for the same reason Natalie did (will?) earlier (later?): It doesn't matter cuz he won't remember!

I also think there was a Sammy, but he didn't have a wife.

Tretiak
04-16-2001, 11:23 AM
I have seen this movie twice now and I feel I understand it a lot better than after just one viewing.

The absolute key point of the movie is when Lenard and Teddy are in the coffee shop and Leonard is saying how memory is unreliable and facts are what are important. This is the setup for the story Teddy tells, which I beleive, because Leonard uses for his motivation simply his memory, which he himself should question as being unreliable.

Why do I beleive Teddy? First, he has no reason to lie, because Leonard will forget it. Also if he were to lie, why would he tell as story like that? Why would he basically tell Leonard that he has it all wrong? Why would he tll Leonard he is the perfect killer? I also think the facts back it up, i.e. the police reports with the blacked out sections. The "coincidence" of the two men having the same rare memory condition. In fact, it is not clear Leonard's condition is not psychological, maybe triggerd by the fact he had been investigating the conditon in the con-man Jankis.

Also, I do not think Natalie was setting up Teddy. Think about it, it is a simple line or action here...Leonard writes down the license plate number, Natalie gets the license plate number info from the DMV, it's Teddy. He kills Teddy. She didn't have to do anything to provoke that. Some might say she faked the Driver's license,but the name James Gammel seems to be his real name, and how would she know that?

Granted, there is possibly a whole lot more going on between Natalie and Teddy. But I think what is interesting is that we tend to sometimes avoid an Occam's razor type explanation because of our subjectivity and unrelaible memory.

Did I mention I loved this movie.

Kaz
04-16-2001, 11:36 AM
Originally posted by Tretiak
...he had been investigating the conditon in the con-man Jankis.

Wait wait wait, Sammy really was a con-man? How do we know this?


Also, I do not think Natalie was setting up Teddy. Think about it, it is a simple line or action here...Leonard writes down the license plate number, Natalie gets the license plate number info from the DMV, it's Teddy. He kills Teddy. She didn't have to do anything to provoke that. Some might say she faked the Driver's license,but the name James Gammel seems to be his real name, and how would she know that?

I was actualy thinking that Natalie tried to set up Leonard. 1. She sent him after Dodd, but hy would she want him killed? He wasn't the one that beat her, Leonard was the one that hit her. 2. She says that she told Dodd about the car. It was Jimmy's car. She must have known it was Jimmy's car, cause she knocked on the window and thought he was Jimmy. Therefore, I think that she sent Dodd to kill Leonar because she knew that he was the one that killed him (because he was wearing Jimmy's suit and driving his car). Does this make any sense?

I totally need to go see this movie again, it was damn sweet.

MovieMogul
04-16-2001, 11:43 AM
If you check out the Flash-portion of http://www.otnemem.com, there are several important background clues to Leonard's past, including that he is an escapee from a mental institution (supporting my whole Sammy-is-Leonard memory of that one shot of him in the chair)

Kaz says: However, he says that this is unlike Sammy. How does that work, if there is no Sammy?
At the website, you see that while in the institution, Leonard has gotten into the habit (more conditioning) of writing several journals in which he talks to himself in the second person, implying that he is assuming another personality--this personality is one that has convinced Leonard about the cover-up and taunts him about not having finished what has started (re: "avenging" his wife). Perhaps he feels guilty about not having overcome his "condition" and has projected this failure on this fictional "Sammy", whose "mistakes" Leonard can now learn from. It's not unreasonable to think that, even though he has no memory of all the tests that he might have gone through as "Sammy", he could've discovered this later (possibly from Teddy, who is well aware of Leonard's history). Not a perfect answer, but I still have seen the film only once...

FTR, I too believe that Teddy is telling the truth to/about Leonard.

More Memento/Psycho similarities:
[list]
A good deal of the action takes place in a run-down fleabag motel
Both feature top-billed actors who are killed off relatively early in the proceedings
Both protagonists spend some time in a mental institution (though we don't know this about Leonard from the film)

MovieMogul
04-16-2001, 12:05 PM
Kaz says: I was actualy thinking that Natalie tried to set up Leonard. 1. She sent him after Dodd, but hy would she want him killed? He wasn't the one that beat her, Leonard was the one that hit her. 2. She says that she told Dodd about the car. It was Jimmy's car. She must have known it was Jimmy's car, cause she knocked on the window and thought he was Jimmy. Therefore, I think that she sent Dodd to kill Leonar because she knew that he was the one that killed him (because he was wearing Jimmy's suit and driving his car). Does this make any sense?
One important problem with this, though, is that she does help Leonard with tracing that license plate--something she didn't have to do and something that probably wasn't particularly easy. I think it's safe to say there's no way she could know Teddy's involvement in Jimmy's death, so her declaration to Leonard that she got that info for him because he helped her with her problem was on the level. Now how did he help her, except in taking out Dodd? It's quite possible she knew that Leonard may be facing certain death in confronting Dodd, but what does she have to lose in using him? That Leonard actually does take care of him means she owes Leonard one, which is why she does the DMV favor.

Tretiak says: In fact, it is not clear Leonard's condition is not psychological, maybe triggerd by the fact he had been investigating the conditon in the con-man Jankis.
I think it's established that Jankis (if he did exist at all) was authentic. What con is worth the life of his wife and a future of institutionalization? Leonard even admits that what he took to be mild recognition in Sammy's eyes was just the fabrication of a man doing his best to assimilate into a context he doesn't remember.

Brief side note: It's interesting with all the emphasis on evidence as truth-teller and the differentiation of what is perceived vs. real that the cast includes Carrie Anne-Moss and Joe Pantoliano (both of The Matrix) and Jorja Fox (who's on TV's C.S.I.)

Tretiak
04-16-2001, 01:02 PM
Originally posted by ArchiveGuy
[quote]Tretiak says: In fact, it is not clear Leonard's condition is not psychological, maybe triggerd by the fact he had been investigating the conditon in the con-man Jankis.
I think it's established that Jankis (if he did exist at all) was authentic. What con is worth the life of his wife and a future of institutionalization? Leonard even admits that what he took to be mild recognition in Sammy's eyes was just the fabrication of a man doing his best to assimilate into a context he doesn't remember.

Well we only know about Sammy from two subjective sources, Leonard's account and Teddy's. Teddy says that Sammy had no wife, he was a con-man. Leonard was the one who was married, who's wife had diabetes. By the end of the film nothing is firmly established on this, but since I beleived Teddy at the end of the film (which is actually near the beginning of the movies timeline) I beleived Jankis was a con-man and that Leonard was the one no one believed.

trose
04-16-2001, 01:40 PM
How does Leonard know that the man he's searching for is named John G. or Jimmy G.?

I think one of the crucial questions of the movie, which each viewer has to answer for himself, is which kind of "amnesia" does Leonard have? He keeps insisting that he's different from Sammy, and that Sammy's was either psychological or fake. But Leonard's amnesia seems to be selective, depending on what he wants to remember. (For instance, he remembers that Polaroids have to be burned.)

Great discussion, folks.

Fiver
04-16-2001, 02:02 PM
Tretiak, I remember Teddy saying Sammy had no wife, but not that he was a con man.

Incidentally, did anyone else notice who the actress playing Sammy's wife was? She's the same woman who play's Frasier's predatory agent, Bebe, on Frasier. It's cool to see her in such a different role.

Yes, ArchiveGuy, that's pretty neat about the overlapping casts of The Matrix and Memento (but CSI is a reach). Both are essentially movies about epistemology: How do we know what we know? And how do we know it's true?

trose
04-16-2001, 03:44 PM
Fiver, her name is Harriet Sansom Harris, and like you I was happy to see her get a chance to do something different. She's an interesting actor.

Besides Matrix and Psycho I was reminded of Urbania, another artsy film from about a year ago. It also unfolds non-chronologically and deals with a man seeking revenge for a murdered lover. It also sorta feels like this one, the same what-is-real displacement, which I guess is related to grief.

trose
04-16-2001, 03:47 PM
Fiver, like you I was happy to see Bebe get a chance to do something different. She's an interesting actor. And your mentioning her prompted me to finally look up her name; it's Harriet Sansom Harris.

Besides Matrix and Psycho I was reminded of Urbania, another artsy film from about a year ago. It also unfolds non-chronologically and deals with a man seeking revenge for a murdered lover. It also sorta feels like this one, the same what-is-real displacement, which I guess is related to grief.

trose
04-16-2001, 05:47 PM
Once you've hit submit, it's too late to edit.
Dang, I just lost my double-posting cherry ...

Baraqiyal
04-17-2001, 05:52 AM
Since seeing this movie, I’ve been fascinated with the idea of seeing a version that goes forward through time rather than backwards. I finally broke down and downloaded the movie from an IRC channel (I don’t think I’m doing anything wrong since I’ve already paid to see the movie). Using Microsoft’s freebee video editing software, I created my forwards through time version; just finished in fact. I will be giggling like a schoolgirl at work tomorrow as I contemplate the incredible insights I will glean when watching my handiwork.

Kaz
04-17-2001, 08:50 AM
Originally posted by Baraqiyal
Since seeing this movie, I’ve been fascinated with the idea of seeing a version that goes forward through time rather than backwards. I finally broke down and downloaded the movie from an IRC channel (I don’t think I’m doing anything wrong since I’ve already paid to see the movie). Using Microsoft’s freebee video editing software, I created my forwards through time version; just finished in fact. I will be giggling like a schoolgirl at work tomorrow as I contemplate the incredible insights I will glean when watching my handiwork.

After you watch it, get back to us, and tell us if it totally helped, or if it totally spoiled the whole movie. When I first read your post, I was about to say Send me one!!!!, but now that I think about it, I think that I would rather see it the "normal" way a coule of times first, but then I would definatly like to see it. I just get the feeling that the movie would really loose something shown in a progressive order, but I could just be stupid...:)

Tretiak
04-17-2001, 11:06 AM
Seeing the movie forward might indeed present some interesting insight. What really fascinates me about the movie is that the backward storytelling is not some useless gimmick but an essential aspect of the narrative power of the film. it puts in the same frame of mind as Leonard "What just happened?" "How did I get here?". Certainly if the movie were told in a pedestrian linear fashion it is not a very interesting film.

After seeing it twice I have the timeline pretty well established in my head. I even started to make a website, but have not really had the time to complete it (Stanley Cup playoffs taking up too much of my time :))

You can have a look, but it isn't even close to be completed

http://www.geocities.com/mementotimeline

MovieMogul
04-17-2001, 02:26 PM
Tretiak says:Teddy says that Sammy had no wife, he was a con-man.
Whoops! I had forgotten what Teddy said about Sammy vs. what he said about Leonard (plus paying attention to the images during that entire segment--gotta see it a 2nd time to process it all). Guess you should disregard most of my Sammy comments...

Certainly if the movie were told in a pedestrian linear fashion it is not a very interesting film.
I'm inclined to agree, which makes Baraqiyal's labor-intensive project seem a bit of a waste (except to glean some continuity elements). After all, we know he's going to single out Teddy, we know Natalie's a red herring, so there's little room for suspense, irony, or drama.

JoeyHemlock
04-17-2001, 06:47 PM
This movie has been compared a lot to The Usual Suspects and I see why: People are overthinking everything, trying to find meaning in every little thing. What's great about movies like this is that YOUR ending is always the right ending. If you think that there was a Mrs. Sammy, then there was. It's that simple.

Here's MY movie:


Everyone seems to ask how he knows he has a condition. Leonard said that learning is possible through repitition (don't pick up the electrified block). It stands to reason that for several months Leo had to read a note telling him that he had a condition until, eventually, he learned it. It's not like he had to look in a mirror every 15 minutes to know that he was avenging his wife's death. If he read that tattoo every day for a month, he would learn it.
[list] (By the way, did anyone recognise the tester that tested Sammy? He used to be on MTV's The State and Comedy Central's Viva Variety. Thomas Lennon is his name, I believe.)
The story of Sammy and the Mrs. is real. There is a real Sammy and he really killed his wife. Also, Leonard's version of the murder is real and he DIDN'T kill his wife. Why would we have reason to disbelieve the pre-accident memory of Leonard? We have plenty of reasons to disbeleive Teddy. Teddy lied a LOT. (Though i'd have to admit that I wouldn't want to tell Leo my name was John G.)
Leo really did kill John G. already. Obviously Teddy isn't the John G. John G. was just a cop using Teddy for dirty deeds. The Polaroid of him pointing to his chest seems to back this up.
If Leo wants to keep his game going, he shouldn't have used a license plate number. That REALLY narrows down the field.
The scene with Leo and his wife at the end (or is it the beginning?) of the film: He did have his "John G." tattoos in that scene(his wife was laying in bed with him), but he also has a big tattoo over his heart that says "I DID IT." I took this to mean that he was successful in his vengence, though some might say it's an admission of guilt. I think this scene is symbolic of Leo's goal: to avenge his wife's death.
[/list=A]

I'm happy that there's another unique film to watch. Hollywood is producing so much crap nowadays. I found out today that they're making "Grosse Point Blank 2". It was a fine movie and all, but does it need a sequel?

Jack Batty
04-17-2001, 09:36 PM
I'm totally on board with JoeyHemlock's interpretation of the movie. Except for one minor point.

The reason Leonard took down John G's license plate number was not to keep the "game" going but to find resolution (at least in his own mind). He looked people in the eyes to figure out whether or not they were lying. He believed Teddy/John G. when he told him how he already avenged his wife's death, and that he, Teddy, had been pointing him toward other "suspects" all along.
Now that pissed Leonard off. So he decided to take matters into his own hands, knowing that the result would be A) in his mind he would have finally avenged his wife's death (even though he already did, but he knew he wouldn't remember that anyway), and B) he could get Teddy to stop fucking with him like that. That's why the first scene in the movie, (the last scene chronologically) seemed so drastically final, a big sense of closure, if you will.

Yes, I loved this movie too. Almost as much as this thread.

Gozu Tashoya
04-18-2001, 01:42 AM
One of my coworkers saw the movie last week and asked me (as I was the one who recommended the movie to her in the first place) whether or not I thought Teddy really was the John G (read: Teddy really did kill Lenny's wife, etc.). She cited some stuff about the drug deal that he set up at the end of the movie as support for her hypothesis, but I really couldn't see it.

Personally, I just thought Teddy was a crooked cop. Anybody else come up with the "Teddy killed Lenny's wife" hypothesis?

Oh, and Baraqiyal, I'd love to see a copy of "your" version of Memento if you could figure out some way to get it to me. (I have DSL, and I'll assume you have something at least as fast, if that helps.) Drop me an email if you're so inclined. Thanks.

Baraqiyal
04-18-2001, 04:15 AM
I recently saw the movie chronologically. I Doubt it would be a sensation if it were actually edited this way. What sets this movie apart is that days later you're still trying to put the key scenes in context, an aspect that was missing from my chronological version. However, even my version forces you to think pretty hard to fill in the gaps, and is better than most of the mindlessness that gets released.

I see my chronological version simply as an answer to a riddle.

Having just seeing it fresh, I decided to write a synopsis:

Leonard's wife is killed by a drug addict. Leonard sustains brain damage in the attack, develops his memory problem and is sent to a psychiatric facility. He leaves the facility to find the killer.

Teddy is a con man (possibly a former cop) who tells two drug dealers, Jimmy Grantz and Dodd, that he has a load of amphetamines he wants to sell for $200,000.

Teddy convinces Leonard that the killer's name is John or Jimmy G__ and that he knows where to find him. He sends Leonard to the drug deal in his place. There, Leonard does what Jimmy expects him to do and kills Jimmy Grantz (Leonard of course believes Jimmy killed his wife).

Teddy comes waltzing in to collect the $200,000. Unfortunately for Teddy, Leonard is still there. Teddy tries to confuse Leonard with a load of bull about how his wife survived her attack and that Leonard really killed her. Leonard sees through this and figures out that the whole thing was a setup. This angers Leonard and sees for the first time the lowlife Teddy really is. He decides to "frame" Teddy for the murder of his wife by writing down Teddy's license plate number. He knows that when he gets the license plate number back he will think Teddy is the killer (This is evidenced when he says to himself: "Would I lie to myself to be happy? In your case Teddy, yes.") and finally get closure in his life, also to get revenge for Teddy manipulating him.

Much to Teddy's chagrin, Leonard takes Jimmy's car with the $200,000 in the trunk. (This is why, later, Teddy keeps asking for Leonard's keys)

Leonard puts on Jimmy's jacket where he finds a note from someone named Natalie to meet him at the bar. Thinking that the note was to him, he goes to the bar. Natalie is at first confused why Leonard is in Jimmy's car, but eventually figures it out.

Dodd thinks Jimmy took off with the $200,000. He begins to threaten Natalie (Jimmy's girlfriend).

Natalie hatches a plan to take care of Dodd. She befriends Leonard, takes him home, then verbally berates him to goad him into punching her. She later tells him that Dodd was the one who punched her. This infuriates him, and he goes after Dodd and beats the crap out of him, scaring him out of town.

To return the favor, she asks her friend in the DMV run the license plate number, which comes back to Teddy.

Now, thinking that Teddy is the killer of his wife, Leonard kills him.

The End

JoeyHemlock
04-18-2001, 10:52 AM
Jack Batty, that's a good interpretation of the start of the Teddy situation. I'm now on board with you.

I hope that when the dvd for this comes out, they have a chronologically correct version of the film on the dvd. This would be super-simple with seamless branching on DVD. Maybe start the movie with the Sammy story and then go through Leo's escapades. It would CERTAINLY not be as good of a movie, but it'd be interesting for fans of the film to see. Of course, I'm also up for a ton of features like commentaries and documentaries...

Tretiak
04-18-2001, 11:55 AM
Baraqiyal, after seeing the movie a second time I was able to also see that the story was actually pretty simple as you outlined and it is the disorietation of Leonard's condition (mimicked by the backward editing) that creates the riddles. It is fascinating and I may see it a third time.

I disagree with the thinking that Teddy is lying about Leonard's wife. I believe Leonard did kill his wife, of course unknowingly, the Jankis was a con-man. Leonard is about the most unreliable narrator after Verbal Kint in the history of movies. His head is all screwed up. He himself says that memories are unreliable and should not be used, yet he bases his entire revenge motivation on his memories. What is Teddy's motive to lie at that point in the movie? There is none.

And here is an interesting little bit of captured frames from the movie, it suggests (and the website backs it up) that Leonard was the one who spent time in a mental institution.

http://www.ece.mcgill.ca/~mperez1/memento.jpg

BTW, there is an interview with writer/director Chirstopher Nolan in this month's issue of Creative Screenwriting.

shelbo
04-18-2001, 06:12 PM
The official website, if it is telling the same story as the movie, makes it pretty clear that Lenny killed his own wife (there's a fragment of a psychiatrist's report talking about "keeping the disturbing manner of his wife's demise" a secret from him, lest it upset him too greatly). His "condition" also seems to clearly be psychosomatic. Based on the material in the website, I'm going to make the following, WAG of a diagnosis:

1. The "sane" part of Lenny's mind stopped making memories as a result of the combined influences of the blow to the side of the head, and the guilt at being unable to save his wife from enduring a brutal beating and rape. This guilt is exacerbated by the killing of his own wife, to the point that it was impossible for his mind to ever regain normal function, as that would require admitting the truth.

2. At some point (maybe the point at which, had he not killed his wife, he would have begun to recover mentally from the initial injury) he develops a split personality, with the "insane" part of his mind being able to make memories only after absolving itself of the guilt of his wife's rape and subsequent death. It wasn't me/you, it was John G.

The insane part of his mind, in order to further its own agenda of denial, goads him/himself into escaping the hospital to avenge his wife's death.

Really neat movie. I loved the way it put us viewers into a similar situation as Lenny, of not knowing how we got to where we were (although you had the advantage of at least knowing where we were going).

JoeyHemlock
04-18-2001, 06:31 PM
The whole "Leonard killed his wife" scenario makes no sense whatsoever. If we beleive Teddy there, we have to beleive him seconds later when he says that he helped Lenny hunt down the real John G. If Leo killed his wife, there WAS no real John G. So, logically, Teddy was lying.

Also, if Leo can't form memories, then how could he make-up the Sammy story? He could make it up, but he wouldn't remember it, not if it was after the accident. Even if he did, how would he even remember that HE killed his wife with insulin to get that far?

There is no logical way that Leo could have killed his own wife. There IS a logical way that he didn't: The Sammy story was true, and Teddy was lying to Leo. Why lie? To get Leo to stop with the killings, maybe. To save his own ass, maybe. To fuck with Leo (which we know he liked to do), maybe.


The whole website/mental institution thing: My take was that Leo was in the institution because they didn't want him wandering around alone forgetting what's going on every 15 minutes. There's no one to take care of him, so he goes to the institution. "Keeping the disturbing manner of his wife's demise" is that they didn't want to remind him that his wife was raped and murdered. (Though why not tell him either way? He won't remember it.)

Leo didn't kill his wife, and the Sammy story is the truth. Even if the screenwriter himself tells me otherwise, this is how it is for me. And if the screenwrite takes sides either way, they're doing an injustice. The Ususal Suspects director/writer never spilled the beans on what they thought, neither should Nolan.

Snooooopy
04-18-2001, 06:59 PM
Originally posted by JoeyHemlock
The whole "Leonard killed his wife" scenario makes no sense whatsoever. If we beleive Teddy there, we have to beleive him seconds later when he says that he helped Lenny hunt down the real John G. If Leo killed his wife, there WAS no real John G. So, logically, Teddy was lying.


Well, no. In this scenario, John G. still perpetrated the assault on Leo's wife and ran Leo's head into the bathroom mirror. The wife recovered, she couldn't deal with Leo's new condition, and tricked him into sending her into insulin shock.


Also, if Leo can't form memories, then how could he make-up the Sammy story? He could make it up, but he wouldn't remember it, not if it was after the accident. Even if he did, how would he even remember that HE killed his wife with insulin to get that far?


Even people who have not had their heads smashed can remember things wrong. I think there's room to imagine that his memories could have been scrambled after the trauma.

Kaz
04-18-2001, 07:29 PM
OK, i got a question. Look at the picture that Tretiak as provided us:

http://www.ece.mcgill.ca/~mperez1/memento.jpg

It shows Leonard and Sammy in the chair, but then there is a picture of Leonard's chest with "I did it" on it. Whats up with this? He never has this before (later?) in the movie. Is this him thinking about this, or is this a preview, saying that once he kills John G and get's this tatoo his wife will take him back (assuming she isn't dead, which is not a safe asumption, but i don't believe that it can be ruled out). What the other opinions on this particular tatoo?

JoeyHemlock
04-18-2001, 08:49 PM
Originally posted by Snooooopy
Well, no. In this scenario, John G. still perpetrated the assault on Leo's wife and ran Leo's head into the bathroom mirror. The wife recovered, she couldn't deal with Leo's new condition, and tricked him into sending her into insulin shock.

Even people who have not had their heads smashed can remember things wrong. I think there's room to imagine that his memories could have been scrambled after the trauma.


Remembering things wrong is one thing, remembering something that happened to you while you had no memory is another. If he can't form new memories, then he can't remember the insulin thing at all if he did it. The simplest solution is still the one I outlined above. I still have no reason to beleive Teddy at any point in the movie.

It shows Leonard and Sammy in the chair, but then there is a picture of Leonard's chest with "I did it" on it. Whats up with this? He never has this before (later?) in the movie.

There is a short scene in the film (the end of what we saw) that shows Leo and his wife laying together where he has this tattoo. The Picture linked looks like a still of that scene. Since he obviously didn't have those tattoos when they were married, and she's obviously dead now, so it's obviously a symbolic moment.

Snooooopy
04-18-2001, 10:49 PM
Originally posted by JoeyHemlock
Originally posted by Snooooopy
Well, no. In this scenario, John G. still perpetrated the assault on Leo's wife and ran Leo's head into the bathroom mirror. The wife recovered, she couldn't deal with Leo's new condition, and tricked him into sending her into insulin shock.

Even people who have not had their heads smashed can remember things wrong. I think there's room to imagine that his memories could have been scrambled after the trauma.


Remembering things wrong is one thing, remembering something that happened to you while you had no memory is another. If he can't form new memories, then he can't remember the insulin thing at all if he did it. The simplest solution is still the one I outlined above. I still have no reason to beleive Teddy at any point in the movie.


Maybe you're right about Sammy, but there's nothing illogical about postulating that John G. exists. The news clipping of the attack on the http://www.otnemem.com site includes a sentence where the police confirm there were multiple intruders. Leo shot one to death. The other got away.

JoeyHemlock
04-19-2001, 12:16 AM
Originally posted by Snooooopy
Maybe you're right about Sammy, but there's nothing illogical about postulating that John G. exists.

I never disputed this. I think John G. DID exist (and Leo already killed him, hence the bloody picture with Leo pointing to his chest).

MovieMogul
04-19-2001, 12:39 AM
JoeyHemlock says: The whole "Leonard killed his wife" scenario makes no sense whatsoever. If we beleive Teddy there, we have to beleive him seconds later when he says that he helped Lenny hunt down the real John G. If Leo killed his wife, there WAS no real John G. So, logically, Teddy was lying.
Wrong. There was a John G that was part of the assault, but the wife survives. Leonard kills her (the insulin incident) much later. Two separate incidents, completely reconcilable.

There is no logical way that Leo could have killed his own wife.
You have not provided any evidence of this impossibility.

There IS a logical way that he didn't: The Sammy story was true, and Teddy was lying to Leo. Why lie? To get Leo to stop with the killings, maybe. To save his own ass, maybe. To fuck with Leo (which we know he liked to do), maybe.
There is less reason to follow this line of reasoning. Why would Teddy lie? He's the one that's been encouraging Leonard's killing streak--why stop all of a sudden? Especially when he's benefitting from these killings. Given that nobody knows his involvement (except Leonard who can't remember), he's not in any danger, so there goes the ass-saving theory. And as far as fucking with him, he does it less than anyone else in the film.

There is a short scene in the film (the end of what we saw) that shows Leo and his wife laying together where he has this tattoo. The Picture linked looks like a still of that scene. Since he obviously didn't have those tattoos when they were married, and she's obviously dead now, so it's obviously a symbolic moment.
Huh? How about that he had the tattoo, then had it removed (someone does touch that empty patch and asks "What's this?") This is consistent with Teddy's story, that Leonard killed John G, but won't let the "memory" of his wife's death go.

John G. was just a cop using Teddy for dirty deeds. The Polaroid of him pointing to his chest seems to back this up.
Huh? What possible motivation would a cop have for doing the assault in Leonard's house? Why recruit a "con-man" if Leonard has no memories? If Teddy is the foil for John G, why does he continue after JohnG-the-cop is dead? Sorry, this scenario makes no sense, and is incredibly far-fetched compared to the Teddy-the-cop, JohnG-the-crook hypothesis.

I agree with you about the conditioning-through-repetition, which is why, if Leonard was told about his wife's death (the insulin incident) enough times, he would absorb that information into his memory--though he distorts it, assigning the action to Sammy since it can't reconcile with what he "remembers" (his wife's death in the bathroom).

Kaz
04-19-2001, 11:24 AM
Originally posted by ArchiveGuy
Huh? How about that he had the tattoo, then had it removed (someone does touch that empty patch and asks "What's this?") This is consistent with Teddy's story, that Leonard killed John G, but won't let the "memory" of his wife's death go.

Sorry ArchiveGuy, but this doesn't make any sense. Why would he have it removed? That makes no sense. Upon looking back, I agree with JoeyHemlock on this one that it is more symbolic. Remember how in the same "memory division" during the movie it also had flashes of Leonard pinching his wife, then givng hera shot, then pinching her again? I think this was just showing what he wanted to happen, not what did happen.

Tretiak
04-19-2001, 12:06 PM
I agree that it is sumbolic, although of what I have no idea :) However, remember when it happens in the timeline, Teddy has toldhim he already killed John G, so he is in his creating an image of completion, with his wife and the tatoo. Kind of completing the circle. Then he stops at the tatoo parlor and he gets the license plate tatoo. But was that always his intention? Maybe he was going to get the "I did it" tatoo as he has invisioned it, but remember the last line of the movie..."OK, where was I?" In front of the tatoo parlor holding a card that says "Fact 6: <lic number>", ergo that is the tatoo he gets. He has forgotten his intetnion to get the 'I Did It' tatoo.

Just another thought. Did I mention how much I liked this movie?

JoeyHemlock
04-19-2001, 04:46 PM
Originally posted by ArchiveGuy

[quote]There is no logical way that Leo could have killed his own wife.
You have not provided any evidence of this impossibility.


Okay, let's summarize:
ArchiveGuy's Version
Sammy Jankis is a con-man and Leo exposed him. And all this time he has backward tattoos reading "John G. raped and killed my wife", even though she isn't dead. He even has a big tattoo that says "I've done it" on his chest while she is alive (as evidenced by the photgraph of Leo and wife).

Leo walks in on his wife's rape and murder and gets clocked. He's laying on the floor with a head injury, watching his wife die. She is rescued before she kicks it, but Leo doesn't remember that.

Leo now has Sammy Jankis disease. Some other insurance guy thinks LEO is faking the way that Sammy was before. Insurance investegator tells Leo's wife that he is physically capable of forming new memories, so wife decides on the insulin murder scheme. Leo, who is incapable of forming new memories, somehow remembers this action, but his brain attaches it to Sammy Jankis. The brain even creates memories of Leo in his office with Sammy's nonexistant wife, even though he is incapable of forming new memories.

Sometime around here, he gets his "I've done it" tattoo removed, leaving all the others which are eerily true now.

Leo kills John G. A photo of Leo pointing to his removed "I've done it" tattoo is taken as a memento (har!). Leo kills lots of others, with Teddy's deceptive help. After Jimmy's murder, Teddy decides to be honest (even though he lied about even meeting Leo only moments earlier) and tells Leo the truth about the past. Leo decides to kill make Teddy the next John G. (end)

JoeyHemlock's Version
Sammy killed his wife.

Leo walks in on his wifes rape/murder and is clocked. He lies on the floor helplessly and watches his wife suffocate and die, his last memory.

Leo now has Sammy Jankis disease. He slowly "learns" about his condition and tattoos himself to assure he will get vengence. His brain doesn't make thigs up out of the blue.

Leo kills John G. A picture is taken of him pointing to the area where he wants to get his "i did it" tattoo. Teddy realizes that he can have Leo keep killing and killing be simply not giving Leo the picture. Teddy makes sure that the police report has several pages missing to make the story vague enough to twist around as he sees fit. He pockets it (but gives it back later to regain Teddy's trust).

Teddy gets Leo to kill Jimmy. When he gets there, Teddy denies ever meeting Leo, but Leo catches his lie. Teddy continues his lying ways and tells Leo several stories, including that Leo killed his wife using the Sammy Jankis method. Leo realizes he's being fucked with by Teddy, both with the BS stories and the repated killings, so he makes Teddy the next John G. (end)

Well, I think my version is a much simpler explanation, so I'll take it. If I believed the other version, I'd also have to believe that Chazz Palmentari is Keysor Soze.

LifeWillFall
04-19-2001, 07:06 PM
I like Joey Hemlocks version also everything seems to fit except the scene at the end when he has the "I've done it" tatoo and he is lying in bed with his wife. Without this one image this movie makes sense. But with this image the movie doesn't seem to work in either incarnation because if Lennys wife dies then how can she lay with him while he has tatoos and if she lives then why does he have a tatto that says John G. Raped and killed my wife.

Snooooopy
04-19-2001, 08:04 PM
Originally posted by JoeyHemlock
This movie has been compared a lot to The Usual Suspects and I see why: People are overthinking everything, trying to find meaning in every little thing. What's great about movies like this is that YOUR ending is always the right ending. If you think that there was a Mrs. Sammy, then there was. It's that simple.


I took this to mean that you had no problem with the idea of multiple interpretations of the movie, but you've spent the rest of this thread doing your very best to trash any theory that doesn't happen to jibe with yours. What is your stance?

JoeyHemlock
04-19-2001, 09:31 PM
Originally posted by Snooooopy
[QUOTE]=I took this to mean that you had no problem with the idea of multiple interpretations of the movie, but you've spent the rest of this thread doing your very best to trash any theory that doesn't happen to jibe with yours. What is your stance?

Well, Snooooooooop, that's a damn fine point, and I still believe in what I said. If ArchiveGuy (and whoever else is of that ilk) prefers his version, then I guess I should be happy with that. When I typed that quote, I could kind of see both sides. But the more I thought about it, the more I liked my side.

I guess I'll have to agree to disagree? I still think that my way is the easiest to believe, but everyone gets to make up their own mind.

Thanks for calling me on that, Snoooooop (how many damn o's are in that?). I was getting pretty high on my horse.

JoeyHemlock
04-19-2001, 09:37 PM
Originally posted by LifeWillFall
I like Joey Hemlocks version also everything seems to fit except the scene at the end when he has the "I've done it" tatoo and he is lying in bed with his wife. Without this one image this movie makes sense. But with this image the movie doesn't seem to work in either incarnation because if Lennys wife dies then how can she lay with him while he has tatoos and if she lives then why does he have a tatto that says John G. Raped and killed my wife.

Yeah, it doesn't really fit into any interpretation. It HAS to be symbolic, I think. Symbolic of Leo's goal: He just wants to get revenge and know that he's honored his wife. The scene shows that he thinks his wife will love him (in heaven) if he accomplishes his goal. At least that's my take.

trose
04-19-2001, 11:07 PM
Forgive me if this seems out of place, but I'm not closely reading everyone's theories yet because I want to see the film again without being too strongly influenced by them. I am looking forward to rereading later, there's some interesting ideas here. (I'm also shying away from the website for now.)

That said, remember that somebody took the picture of Leonard pointing to his chest. That had to be Teddy immediately after the death of John G., or perhaps someone else (I got the notion Teddy had manipulated Leonard more than once). And there was no scarring there, as there would have been if a tattoo had been removed. In the picture Leonard is saying he's going to get the "I did it" tattoo. I think Teddy saw his chance and distracted Leonard long enough to get him to forget. He then started setting up the next "John G."

And the scene with Leonard and his wife and the "I did it" tattoo is symbolic.

trose
04-19-2001, 11:13 PM
Er, by "perhaps someone else" I meant after the death of perhaps some other victim whom Teddy had set up for Leonard to kill. I maintain that Teddy took the picture.

I hope my high school English teacher isn't a Doper.

Spoonbender
04-23-2001, 09:05 AM
Great discussion, folks.

I think I must be very dense. Why does Leonard put on Jimmy's clothes? When he whacked Jimmy on the head, did he get blood on his own clothes or something?

Man, I loved this movie.

Rhythmdvl
04-23-2001, 10:09 AM
Well now, that was an interesting movie. And quite the thread here to boot~ I’ve enjoyed reading everyone’s theories and speculation. I am left with a few random questions that I haven’t seen addressed yet.

Did the picture that Teddy allegedly took of Lenny show him (Lenny) with considerably fewer tattoos than he did when the movie took place? What does that say? That Lenny has been on the hunt for quite some time (tattoos take a bit of time to apply/ heal)? If Lenny still remembers that Teddy told him he helped kill the ‘original’ John G (and is there any substantiation that the photo was of the first killing?) AND he realizes that there has been quite a large amount of time that passed, is it reasonable to assume that Lenny realized that Teddy had been using him for quite some time, possibly to commit a string of murders along the way? Is that good reason for Lenny to set up/ frame Teddy with the ‘Don’t believe his lies’ and the license plate?

Does anyone have thoughts on the other Polaroids at the Flash site? There are several other random people. Are these other victims? Just acquaintances?

How did Lenny remember where he parked his car? How did he know which was his car? Since the Jag was such a recent acquisition, he shouldn’t have (within the rules of the movie) been able to remember that it was his, not Teddy’s.

Lenny seems to have the ability to learn new things, given repetition and time. His new habits, his recollection that he has this ‘condition’. Why would he not remember (or grow to remember/ know) that his wife survived the attack? Was he institutionalized soon after?

How did he remember to buy film for his camera?

There are a few more things that I am puzzling over, but work calls. Last thing I’ll leave you with is a recommendation- Rent Rashamon by Akirasowrasomethingorother (Yojimbo- know the right spelling?) with several people. It has nothing in common with Memento’s plot, but it is a movie that will send you and your friends into long conversations comparing memories and facts from the movie in an attempt to figure out what really happened.

Thanks for your time,

Rhythmdvl

MovieMogul
04-23-2001, 11:22 AM
I've been abstaining until I saw the film again (too many things I may/may not remember :rolleyes: ), but I did happen to run into this, as reported on <ahem> Roger Ebert's website:
On Chicago's Mancow Muller radio show, Joe Pantoliano, co-star of the movie, flatly stated (spoiler warning!) that there was no Sammy Jankis, that Sammy was an attempt by Leonard's memory to displace guilt, and that Leonard killed his wife. Discussing this with Mancow, I asked, "but can you prove that from the movie?" No, he said, he couldn't.
So take that for what it's worth...(?)
Rhythmdvl says: Rent Rashamon by Akirasowrasomethingorother
That would be Rashomon by Akira Kurosawa, and yes it is an interesting film about both the fallibility of memory and our own inclination to be revisionists when recalling out past experiences (particularly our failures).

Spoonbender
04-23-2001, 12:38 PM
Here's another question: at the (chronological) end of the movie, Leonard kills Teddy, and takes a picture. As far as he knows, he's just killed THE John G. What will happen next? Does he write down what he's done and get a tattoo saying "I've done it"? Is his quest over? Or will he forget, and keep on searching for John G., his quest going on indefinitely?

Jackknifed Juggernaut
04-23-2001, 01:27 PM
OK. I just saw the movie for the second time and I think I've figured it out.

Sammy was real, but had no wife. He was a con man, just like Teddy stated. The "Remember Sammy Jankis" tattoo allows Leonard to understand his own condition. This knowledge cannot be instinctual. (Aside: Some things can be instinctual like reaching into your pocket whenever you're confused, and then finding photos) Somebody, probably Lenny's wife (who learned about Sammy Jankis through one of Lenny's work stories) had to continually explain to Lenny about his condition by telling him to "Remember Sammy Jankis". Lenny, adept at using a needle, finally tattooed himself with the reminder.

Right after the rape of his wife, Lenny sees her with her eyes closed under the shower curtain. This is the last permanent memory he has of her: That she was raped AND killed. Her eyes only open up after Lenny is knocked unconscious. Every minute that his memory escapes him, this is the last thing that he remembers. So, one day (after the incident), Lenny's wife is at work or just not at home, he tattoos the "John G raped and killed my wife" on his chest. How did he get John G.? He saw the police report and noticed that there was no name given to the living rapist. The only name on the report was the investigating officer, or John G. This is the point where Lenny's condition becomes dangerous for others. His problem becomes an existential one. Any time that his wife is not with him in his line of sight, she is "dead". Therefore, the only purpose for his being alive is to avenge her death. Teddy the cop and Lenny's wife probably decide that revenge might cure him of his condition. He kills some drug dealer or other criminal that Teddy sets up, after which Teddy takes the "happy" photo of him. He even helps him get the "I did it!" tattoo afterwords (or Lenny does it on himself, I'm not sure and its not important) to "prove" it forever. But Lenny can never see the "I did it" tattoo because with it, his life has no purpose.

Lenny does not improve. This is when his wife gives him the insulin test and effectively kills herself. He then gets sent to the hospital. Teddy, who has done his best to help, also figures out that Lenny will always have a need to avenge his wife's rape and "murder". So Teddy figures that he might as well kill three birds with one stone by making Lenny happy, ridding the streets of another drug dealer, and making some money. Lenny also understands this (instinctually) and intentionally plants new clues for himself after each search (and subsequent killing) is complete.

What's interesting in this movie is that there is nobody who is completely good or completely evil. Everybody uses everybody for their own selfish reasons, which is probably a more realistic picture of society than in most movies. I even felt bad for the drug dealer (Jimmy Grants) who was "innocently" killed. Even Dodd is simply trying to avenge his own partner's death.

Did anyone else notice the parallel between the two opposing (but networking) sides? You have the Lenny's Wife-Lenny-Teddy side and the Jimmy-Dodd-Natalie side. Dodd and Natalie are trying to avenge Jimmy's death while Lenny and Teddy are trying to avenge the Wife's death. Dodd doesn't trust Natalie and thinks that she is responsible and Lenny doesn't trust Teddy and thinks that he is responsible. The two mistrusted people (Teddy and Natalie) have never met but are in a war against each other. Natalie eventually wins.

Jackknifed Juggernaut
04-23-2001, 01:31 PM
Originally posted by Spoonbender
Here's another question: at the (chronological) end of the movie, Leonard kills Teddy, and takes a picture. As far as he knows, he's just killed THE John G. What will happen next? Does he write down what he's done and get a tattoo saying "I've done it"? Is his quest over? Or will he forget, and keep on searching for John G., his quest going on indefinitely?

He will burn the picture and then begin his new quest. The "I've done it" tattoo is there permanently. Its just that he can only see it for the moment or 2 after a quest is over.

Jackknifed Juggernaut
04-23-2001, 01:46 PM
Originally posted by JoeyHemlock

Yeah, it doesn't really fit into any interpretation. It HAS to be symbolic, I think. Symbolic of Leo's goal: He just wants to get revenge and know that he's honored his wife. The scene shows that he thinks his wife will love him (in heaven) if he accomplishes his goal. At least that's my take.

I don't believe that the scene is symbolic. It is placed at a point in the movie when almost everything else is revealed. I think that the scene shows a point before the "insulin murder" of the wife, but after the first revenge killing performed by Lenny with Teddy's assistance.

Spoonbender
04-23-2001, 02:28 PM
Originally posted by Jackknifed Juggernaut
The "I've done it" tattoo is there permanently.


I don't buy it. Leonard's memories are distorted, it seems, but there's no evidence that he hallucinates or has any problems perceiving what's going on now. Besides, if he had the "I've done it" tattoo in the scene where Teddy explains it all to him - Teddy would have pointed it out to him: "You already killed John G! See, you've got the tattoo!"

I think the scene where he's shown with his wife and the "I've done it" tattoo is occurring in his imagination, not in a literal flashback.

Not to pick on you, Juggernaut, but I also don't buy the idea that he would have hunted down and killed John G. while his wife was still alive. Knowing his condition, I doubt she would leave him alone with notes or police files or anything that might cause him to do something rash. "Okay, honey, I'm going to work...don't forget, I'm still alive!" :)


This knowledge cannot be instinctual.


This is a good point. "Conditioning" is not the same thing as "remembering through repetition." Conditioning is more like learning a behavior either through repetition or positive/negative reinforcement. In the electric-shock test, the patient does not "remember" that the triangular piece is electrified. They learn to avoid the triangular piece through negative reinforcement. They avoid it, but don't know why.

So, Leonard can condition himself to check his pockets for notes and photos - a behavior - but I don't see how he can condition himself to remember his condition. (Although, maybe he can condition himself to explain his condition. Can a behavior this complex be conditioned? I'm not sure.)

Jackknifed Juggernaut
04-23-2001, 03:05 PM
Originally posted by Spoonbender

Originally posted by Jackknifed Juggernaut
The "I've done it" tattoo is there permanently.


I don't buy it. Leonard's memories are distorted, it seems, but there's no evidence that he hallucinates or has any problems perceiving what's going on now. Besides, if he had the "I've done it" tattoo in the scene where Teddy explains it all to him - Teddy would have pointed it out to him: "You already killed John G! See, you've got the tattoo!"

I think the scene where he's shown with his wife and the "I've done it" tattoo is occurring in his imagination, not in a literal flashback.

Not to pick on you, Juggernaut, but I also don't buy the idea that he would have hunted down and killed John G. while his wife was still alive. Knowing his condition, I doubt she would leave him alone with notes or police files or anything that might cause him to do something rash. "Okay, honey, I'm going to work...don't forget, I'm still alive!" :)


This knowledge cannot be instinctual.


This is a good point. "Conditioning" is not the same thing as "remembering through repetition." Conditioning is more like learning a behavior either through repetition or positive/negative reinforcement. In the electric-shock test, the patient does not "remember" that the triangular piece is electrified. They learn to avoid the triangular piece through negative reinforcement. They avoid it, but don't know why.

So, Leonard can condition himself to check his pockets for notes and photos - a behavior - but I don't see how he can condition himself to remember his condition. (Although, maybe he can condition himself to explain his condition. Can a behavior this complex be conditioned? I'm not sure.)


I figured out that the "I've done it" tattoo is there permanently in my second viewing of the movie. Natalie actually points to it (although the audience can't see it because we are only being given Lenny's perspective) and asks: "What's this?". Lenny replies: "That's for when I find him." Natalie wouldn't point to a blank spot and ask what it is. I must point out that Lenny's existential needs will always block out anything that reveals that the search is over.

Also, Lenny's wife was raped. She surely trusted the officer who was helping her husband locate her rapist. We don't know much about her. But most rape victims probably get some satisfaction in knowing that the rapist is punished. And if it potentially helped her husband escape his condition, all the better. And let's not forget, she was desperate enough that she later sacrificed her own life.

The "I've done it" tattoo couldn't be seen by Lenny in the scene where he kills Teddy. At that point, Teddy wasn't able to convince Lenny to do anything, including showing him the basement. Lenny would not allow anybody to reveal to him that his "work" was done.

I think that Lenny is a modern Sisyphus. What would Sisyphus do if somebody took away his boulder?

Finally, the only purpose of the "Remember Sammy Jankis" tattoo is to remind him about his condition when he forgets. This is why its on his hand, a place that is always exposed and where you would naturally look.

LifeWillFall
04-23-2001, 09:30 PM
Alright, so Jackknifed Juggernaut has some good ideas, I particularly agree with the idea that conditioning only affects behaviors. I also think that Lenny's wife survived but he kills her and some point with the insulin. I also think that Lenny kills a John G. and gets the I've done it tattoo, then the picture is taken with him and his wife and the tattoo but at this point he realizes he didn't really do it because his wife is still alive so he gets the tattoo removed and that's why Natalie asks what's this and points to his chest, tattoo removal would leave some kind of scar I think. I just can't buy the idea that he can't see the tattoo even though it is there.

Jackknifed Juggernaut
04-24-2001, 08:45 AM
Originally posted by LifeWillFall
Alright, so Jackknifed Juggernaut has some good ideas, I particularly agree with the idea that conditioning only affects behaviors. I also think that Lenny's wife survived but he kills her and some point with the insulin. I also think that Lenny kills a John G. and gets the I've done it tattoo, then the picture is taken with him and his wife and the tattoo but at this point he realizes he didn't really do it because his wife is still alive so he gets the tattoo removed and that's why Natalie asks what's this and points to his chest, tattoo removal would leave some kind of scar I think. I just can't buy the idea that he can't see the tattoo even though it is there.

The reason that I'm fairly confident that the tattoo is there the whole time is that there are no wasted lines in this movie. So I think that the director is presenting us with a clue by having Natalie ask the "What's this?" question and pointing to the spot on his chest, and Lenny responding: "That's for when I find him." I can't believe that this little exchange had no meaning. But I suppose that your alternate explanation would work because she could have been pointing to the scar after the tattoo was removed. But why would Lenny remove a tattoo when he could simply choose to ignore it? We all know that he is not afraid to ignore anything else that might possibly reveal that his mission was already accomplished, e.g. burning pictures, not looking in the basement, scribbling out pages in the police report, etc.

Jack Batty
04-24-2001, 10:08 AM
Not to be a big sissy, but all this analyzation is killing the movie for me ...

BUT, I still go with JoeyHemlock's interpretation.

This is my movie:
Leonard was an insurance guy, there was a Sammy who did kill his wife unknowingly, Leaonards wife is dead, Teddy did help him kill the killer (who was a junkie), Teddy has been leading Leonard to kill others for his own greed, but Teddy is also just trying to see Leonard's happy face again, Leonard does believe him when he tell him this, and Leonard does set himself on Teddy's trail in order to find redemption (at least in his own mind as I pointed out earlier). . . Whew!

The tattoo scene with his wife is so symbolic, there might as well be a subtitled disclaimer to that effect.

I don't buy the tattoo removal theories, nor the tattoo is really there, we just can't see it theory. These ideas rely too much on a hoped perception without much exposition. If those were the cases, the filmaker would have given us a bit more of a clue. Besides, it's just a funner movie my way.

Either that or the whole thing is just an allegory about the battle of Little Big Horn. You decide.

Jackknifed Juggernaut
04-24-2001, 11:17 AM
Originally posted by Jack Batty

This is my movie:
Leonard was an insurance guy, there was a Sammy who did kill his wife unknowingly, Leaonards wife is dead, Teddy did help him kill the killer (who was a junkie), Teddy has been leading Leonard to kill others for his own greed, but Teddy is also just trying to see Leonard's happy face again, Leonard does believe him when he tell him this, and Leonard does set himself on Teddy's trail in order to find redemption (at least in his own mind as I pointed out earlier). . . Whew!


Wait a sec, so you believe that Sammy (with the same memory problem as Lenny) had a wife (with the same illness as Lenny's wife), and killed his wife (in the same way that Lenny killed his wife)? I'd say that that's way too much of a coincidence. Why do people not want to believe Teddy at the end (chronological beginning)? Teddy has no reason to lie to Lenny since Lenny will forget anyway.

Jack Batty
04-24-2001, 11:40 AM
Originally posted by Jackknifed Juggernaut

Wait a sec, so you believe that Sammy (with the same memory problem as Lenny) had a wife (with the same illness as Lenny's wife), and killed his wife (in the same way that Lenny killed his wife)? I'd say that that's way too much of a coincidence. Why do people not want to believe Teddy at the end (chronological beginning)? Teddy has no reason to lie to Lenny since Lenny will forget anyway.


No. I believe that Sammy (with the same memory problem as Lenny) had a wife, who was diabetic, and who manipulated Sammy into OD'ing her with insulin because she couldn't take his condition.

I believe Lenny's memory problem is a case of cruel irony. He screwed over the Jankis's and now he had the same problem.

I don't believe Lenny's wife was diabetic. I believe she was raped and murdered by a junkie.
I construed the scenes of Lenny injecting her to be his attempt to find a memory that wasn't there. Teddy was feeding him all that shit, and he was trying to remember it. But memory not being trustworthy, he made up a memory to fit the situation. But affterward, he summarily dismissed them as "Teddy's lies".

Teddy was a squirrely little cuss. He told Lenny the truth and also lied to him, knowing that he would remember none of it. We just have to decide which were lies and which were not. I thought the story he told him about Lenny's wife still being alive was just more screwing with his head. The story about how he had been leading him to kill more John G.s was the truth.

At any rate, it was at that point that Lenny decided he didn't want to deal with Teddy no matter what the truth was, so he took down his license plate number in order to lead himself to kill Teddy, thus finding resolution (again, in his own mind).

Jackknifed Juggernaut
04-24-2001, 02:03 PM
Well, I think that its pretty clear that Lenny's wife's eyes open up after the rape and after Lenny gets hit in the head. It is so important that the events happened in this sequence. Because before getting hit in the head, Lenny viewed his wife as being dead with her eyes closed. There was no other reason for the director to show us her eyes opening up except to let us know that she really was alive.
Also, while Teddy wasn't the most likeable character, he knew Lenny's condition better than anyone. And while he certainly had selfish motivations (as did everyone else in this movie), there is no evidence that he ever lied to Lenny.

There are many movies and books in which ambiguity is used as a tool to get the audience thinking, usually to show that there is no real answer. I don't believe that this is one of those types of stories. There is an answer to the exact sequence of events and to the question about what actually happened. And the director is happily giving us clues to tell us. The funny thing is that many of us choose to ignore the "truth". JUST AS LENNY DID.

What a great and brilliant film!!!

shelbo
04-24-2001, 02:24 PM
I love that this movie deals with Lenny's "facts" that are clearly as untrustworthy as his memory, and then gives us "facts" (i.e., the existence of Sammy Jankis, the murder of the wife by John G.) which end up being as untrustworthy as Lenny's tattos. It's not just memory that is elusive, it's reality.

Great movie.

Jack Batty
04-24-2001, 02:44 PM
First of all, JackKnife I'm glad you enjoyed the movie, and your interpretation of it. You can see that I also enjoyed the movie and my interpretation of it. We could have a ton of fun (and why stop now) trying to convince each other that our interpretation is the correct one, but that's the beauty of the film...

All interpretations are valid.

Having said that, I interpreted Lenny's wife's eye opening in the rape scene not as proof that she was still alive, but as a teaser to make us wonder which of Teddy's stories was actually the truth. The film maker never actually showed us the resolution of that crime scene. She was lying under the sheet .. she blinked .. what happened next? Either she lived and went to the hospital or she died and went to the morgue. Could be either depending on how you interpret the rest of the movie. In mine she died.


Damnit, damnit, damnit. This whole thread means that now I'll have to go to go see it again.

Snooooopy
04-24-2001, 02:59 PM
I think Teddy killed Laura Palmer. Oh, and Darth Vader is Leonard's father. And Leonard's wife is really A MAN, BABY!

Jenin
04-24-2001, 03:56 PM
Im still confused about the tattoo "I've Done It"... I liked Jackknifed syopsis, but the removal of the tattoo does not fit in (removing a tattoo takes a LONG time, and I just dont think it fits into the movie). I convinced myself for a while that it was symbolic, but I just feel there is more to it.

Aslo, why did Natalie allow Lenny into her house? She knows he must have had SOMETHING to do with Jimmy's death (he IS wearing his clothes and driving his car). I know she knew that Jimmy had a meeting with Teddy, but I would be more suspicious of Lenny (he is, once again, WEARING Jimmy's clothes). It just would seem logical that she would mistrust Lenny even MORE than teddy....

confused :confused: ... but LOVED the movie

Tretiak
04-24-2001, 04:16 PM
I also do not beleive he ever had the "I Did It' tattoo, I mena why would he get the one tattoo removed? I still wonder why Natalie points to his chest and says "What about here?" or something like that. I had just assumed she was pointing to a conspicuously blank spot on his body. the scene in his mind I think is strictly a closure issue, he imagines his wife seeing the tatto and getting "her" revenge. In fact I think that is why he stopped at the tattoo parlor (as I had previously mentioned), but then he forgot that was why he was there and got the license plate number tattoo.

Spoonbender
04-24-2001, 09:46 PM
Originally posted by Tretiak
I still wonder why Natalie points to his chest and says "What about here?" or something like that. I had just assumed she was pointing to a conspicuously blank spot on his body.

You're right about this, Tretiak: the line is "What about here?" and NOT "What's this?" (I just saw the movie again.) Big difference, IMHO. "What's this" would imply that she saw something specific (either a scar, or a tattoo that we can't see). "What about here" sounds like she's referring to the conspicuously blank spot.

Something else I noticed: on Leonard's abdomen, written upside-down so he can read it when looking down, is a tattoo with the word: "EAT."

Great advice. :)

JoeyHemlock
04-24-2001, 10:23 PM
Jackknifed Juggernaut said: there is no evidence that he ever lied to Lenny.

We saw Teddy lie to Lenny. Led him to the wrong car, said on multiple occasions that he'd never met Lenny when he had... He lied to Leo just a few SECONDS before the conversation is question, telling him that they'd never met when they had. Leo caught him due to his Polaroid "mementos".

Jackknifed Juggernaut said: I don't believe that the scene is symbolic. It is placed at a point in the movie when almost everything else is revealed. I think that the scene shows a point before the "insulin murder" of the wife, but after the first revenge killing performed by Lenny with Teddy's assistance.

The tattoos said "John G. raped and killed my wife" and "I've done it" etc. I don't think he'd have those tattoos if his wife were still alive. He was laying in bed with his wife, ergo it can not be literal.

Jackknifed Juggernaut said: I think that its pretty clear that Lenny's wife's eyes open up after the rape and after Lenny gets hit in the head. It is so important that the events happened in this sequence. Because before getting hit in the head, Lenny viewed his wife as being dead with her eyes closed. There was no other reason for the director to show us her eyes opening up except to let us know that she really was alive.

Leo says to Natalie that his last memory is "watching his wife... dying". He interrupts the murder, gets clocked, and hits the floor. She still has the plastic (shower curtain?) on her head. She's too weak to move, he has a major head injury and can't help, she suffocates.


Jackknifed Juggernaut said: There is an answer to the exact sequence of events and to the question about what actually happened. And the director is happily giving us clues to tell us. The funny thing is that many of us choose to ignore the "truth".
Ah, clues like "leo remembered killing his wife (even though he can't form new memories), and yet applied it the Sammy Jankis story (including creating NEW memories out of the blue of meeting with Sammy's wife (even though he can't form new memories)". Yeah, I don't how I missed that (director's clue: that last sentence was sarcasm).

Jack Batty said: Not to be a big sissy, but all this analyzation is killing the movie for me ...
I couldn't agree more. I know I said that the movie is open to interpretation, but the more I hear the "Leo killed his wife" theory, the more ridiculous I think it is. I know that even Joey Pantliano (who played Teddy) said that was his interpretation, but I don't think so. As I said before, even if the WRITER says it's otherwise, I don't but it.

Spoonbender
04-24-2001, 10:37 PM
Hey, I found a neat "secret" thing on the Memento web site!

Go to the web site at www.otnemem.com. Click on "Flash Site." On the newspaper article, click on the word "Questions." You'll see a scrap of paper saying "Who did I kill?" and a blank piece of paper below it. Click on the very center of the blank paper - you'll get a text-style cursor. Type in "Teddy." Then move your pointer to the side of the paper until it turns into a pointing-finger cursor, and click again.

Nifty!

Snooooopy
04-24-2001, 10:37 PM
Originally posted by JoeyHemlock
This movie has been compared a lot to The Usual Suspects and I see why: People are overthinking everything, trying to find meaning in every little thing. What's great about movies like this is that YOUR ending is always the right ending. If you think that there was a Mrs. Sammy, then there was. It's that simple.

Here's MY movie:

[list=A]
Everyone seems to ask how he knows he has a condition. Leonard said that learning is possible through repitition (don't pick up the electrified block). It stands to reason that for several months Leo had to read a note telling him that he had a condition until, eventually, he learned it. It's not like he had to look in a mirror every 15 minutes to know that he was avenging his wife's death. If he read that tattoo every day for a month, he would learn it.


Look here, when anyone else wants to give the post-accident Leo the ability to make new memories, you tell them that it's nonsense. But here you are, giving the post-accident Leo the ability to make new memories when it suits your theory.

Leo can learn new skills. If you show him how to move chess pieces, he will eventually be able to play chess without remembering ever having a session. He likely won't even know that the rook is called a rook unless he knew that fact before the accident.

If he reads a note telling him that he has a condition, he's going to forget it every single time. Maybe he will pick up the instinct to be distrustful through the repetition, but he's not going to be able to connect it to why he feels distrustful.

Not even Roger Ebert had a satisfactory explanation of how Leo knows he had a condition.

JoeyHemlock
04-24-2001, 11:18 PM
Originally posted by Snooooopy
Look here, when anyone else wants to give the post-accident Leo the ability to make new memories, you tell them that it's nonsense. But here you are, giving the post-accident Leo the ability to make new memories when it suits your theory.

I believe that Leo CAN "remember" through repitition. I believe that he CAN read a piece of paper that reminds him of his condition and remember if he reads it often enough. If I am mistaken and the movie says that it's only skills, then please cite the section of the film to remind me.

Now, as to the "Leo killed his wife" theory. I believe that Leonard COULD have remembered that he killed his wife and put it on Sammy if he wrote that down and read it every day for a period of time. That said, I think it's ludacris to hypothosize that Leo wrote all that down and read it to himself day after day, especially when at the start of the "learning" he knows (from his "old" memory) that it's bullshit.

I'm not trying to be a cock here, I'm sorry that you're taking such offense to my theory and/or the voracity of my posts.

Sofa King
04-25-2001, 12:32 AM
My take, without reading any posts, just back from the film.

* Leonard is whacked. He killed his wife with an unexpected insulin shot and played it off with a pinch on her bun. He killed her intentionally.

* Leonard is faking. We also see shots of him in the rack with his wife furtively looking at his tatoos. They are hand drawn, and can be interpreted as a symbol of insanity before the murder.

* Leonard can send cognitive messages into the future for himself. He wakes up knowing he has a problem. He knows he has to fake it from the instant he's awake.

* This brings up the debate of perspective. Are we watching third person omniscient, third person Joseph Heller, or first person flashback, as well as many other options? I think we're watching Leonard's psychotic last day's recollections, from the moment the vice guy dies. Once he reaches full enough recollection, his insane mind rebells back into temporal amnesia (I think that's what it's called), and he "forgets" everything. His last act, the first scene of the film, is to overexpose the film of his polaroid, yet another attempt at memory erasure.

Okay, now that I've posted to the thread in reverse, let's see how wrong I am....

Snooooopy
04-25-2001, 03:58 AM
Originally posted by JoeyHemlock
I believe that Leo CAN "remember" through repitition. I believe that he CAN read a piece of paper that reminds him of his condition and remember if he reads it often enough. If I am mistaken and the movie says that it's only skills, then please cite the section of the film to remind me.


I think Leo uses the example of the chess pieces when he is discussing the Sammy case. If not, maybe I picked it up at one of the Web sites I've looked at concerning anterograde amnesia. I was a biology major in college, so brain injuries interest me greatly. I can't say that I've become an expert on the subject, though.

From what I have gleaned from these Web sites, patients can learn new skills or learn by stimulus-response. Forming new memories such as names and dates is severely impaired, but there's no reason that the impairment has to be total; maybe a very little bit can sneak through. All I'm saying is, if you get to claim this for your theory, then I get to for mine as well.


Now, as to the "Leo killed his wife" theory. I believe that Leonard COULD have remembered that he killed his wife and put it on Sammy if he wrote that down and read it every day for a period of time. That said, I think it's ludacris to hypothosize that Leo wrote all that down and read it to himself day after day, especially when at the start of the "learning" he knows (from his "old" memory) that it's bullshit.


Reading a piece of paper isn't the only way that learning-by-repetition can be accomplished, is it? Doing an action over and over could accomplish the same thing. Say that Leo gave his wife insulin injections with regularity before the accident (she could have been afraid of needles). That memory gets jumbled up with Sammy.


I'm not trying to be a cock here, I'm sorry that you're taking such offense to my theory and/or the voracity of my posts.

I'm not taking any offense. We're both just engaging in spirited debate, right? We're both just doing our best to make sense of a strange movie. I think I may need a break, though -- I'm feeling a little weary of the subject.

Fern Forest
04-25-2001, 04:34 AM
I loved this movie but was really frustrated at the end, and still am because of the way I interpreted it. The whole movie seems to keep us on really sound footing until the last few moments when suddenly everything that we are standing upon is shattered. Partly because of Teddy's quick threesome of lies, 1) This is the guy that killed and raper your wife. 2) You've already killed that guy and I've helped you keep on killing. 3) Your wife survived. A subset of this lie was that she had diabetes, which seems to shock Leonard. Also that whole scene seems to piss Leonard off enough that he is willing to lie to himself and set himself up to kill Teddy. So suddenlywe are all left wondering what the truth really was. Was Sammy real, was his wife real, who was John G., is there a John G. etc. I think are all questions we are supposed to be asking ourselves after the movie and I think the director purposely built his movie so that no answer can be proven. If you make assumptions you can lean toward one reality or another but it's all just a guess.

As for the "I did it" tattoo. I think that was just a brief fantasy he had. He was still thinking about the things Teddy said, his anger had kept them in his mind and he was driving down the road and closes his eyes to try and imagine a reality where he got his vengence and his wife survives.

I also thought about the money, an issue that's not really resolved. We assume it spent the movie in the back of his car but then at at least one point Teddy had access to the car when Leonard wasn't there.

Fern Forest
04-25-2001, 04:42 AM
On the note that Natalie wrote at one point talking about the Montcrest, didn't the paper read Monterest? Or was this just bad handwriting or do I need new glasses?

Fern Forest
04-25-2001, 04:47 AM
sigh, now I found it under foul at the flash site. Look at Nathalie's handwriting, she seems to have little control over which letters she capitalizes. anyway, what's up with MonteRest? Anybody know?

Spoonbender
04-25-2001, 09:20 AM
Originally posted by JoeyHemlock
I believe that Leo CAN "remember" through repitition. I believe that he CAN read a piece of paper that reminds him of his condition and remember if he reads it often enough. If I am mistaken and the movie says that it's only skills, then please cite the section of the film to remind me.

I think you're right that the movie doesn't make it clear that only skills/behaviors, and not memories, can be learned through repetition.

However, take a look at this site:

http://currawong.psy.mq.edu.au/~max/104/Disorders.html#amnesia

...which distinguishes between procedural memory ("knowing how") and declarative memory ("knowing that"), and says that anterograde amnesia seems to affect declarative memory only.

On the other hand, I agree with Snoooopy when he says...


Forming new memories such as names and dates is severely impaired, but there's no reason that the impairment has to be total; maybe a very little bit can sneak through


...so, I can buy that Leonard might be able to remember that he has a condition along with a few other real or imagined "facts."

Jackknifed Juggernaut
04-25-2001, 11:54 AM
OK. I'll agree that the "I did it" tattoo might just be a dream, although I can't figure out why the filmmaker would have Natalie ask about it. I mean, there were alot of other blank spots on his body that she didn't ask about.

I'll also agree that Teddy did lie to Lenny, but only because he wanted to get at the money in the Jaguar (which didn't belong to Lenny anyway). Lets face it, Teddy could have easily had Lenny killed at any point in the movie, but didn't. Why didn't he? Because Teddy wasn't really a bad guy. He was money-hungry but had no bad intentions for Lenny. In fact, he tried to help Lenny.

But those of you that are "explaining away" the wife's eyes opening up and Lenny injecting his wife with insulin are interpreting the story the way you wish it happened. You want Teddy to be the bad guy and Lenny to be the good guy. The filmmaker has shown you the story from Lenny's perspective and you feel for him. But then we are given the scenes that tell us what actually happened.

We know that the wife lived through the assault because a) her eyes opened up, and b) it is shown that Lenny injected her, and c) Teddy had absolutely no reason to lie about this.

2) Sammy Jankis's wife didn't exist because its highly unlikely that 2 men with the same memory condition could have wives with the same condition (diabetes). I suppose that when Lenny learned that he killed his own wife, he couldn't remember it due to his condition, but he could have somehow tied it to the Sammy Jankis story as a form of denial. Lets not forget that he has to look at the "Remember Sammy Jankis" tattoo to remember that he even has a condition. (By the way, we know that only actions and not memories can be formed instinctually because the test that Sammy takes with the electrically charged objects is designed to distinguish between the two. The scientists agree that he won't be able to learn to not pick up the charged block through memory, but only by instinct).

So, whether or not the "I did it" tattoo is really there or not, the sequence of events as I described earlier still holds. Believing anything else requires making a few leaps of faith. I don't think that you can arbitrarily choose to discount Teddy's story as a bunch of lies and to cast aside the images of Lenny's wife's eyes opening up and him injecting her with insulin. Remember, Lenny is the sick and confused one, and Lenny has vengeance on his mind, and Lenny is shown to destroy any evidence that might suggest that his mission is complete.

Finally, I can't understand why analyzing this film destroys it for some of you. I think that the need to analyze it is what makes it so great. The filmmakers given us exactly enough information to figure out what happened, and not an iota more. I love to hear other theories about it. I would even accept them if they fit what was given on screen.

monkeylucifer
04-25-2001, 12:35 PM
I have to agree with Hemlock for the most part, just because it does seem to be the most logical and simplest of explanations.

The one thing that I have thought about is that Leonard realizes that to stay "sane" he has to continue his quest, because without this huge sense of dedication he feels, he will end up just like Sammy (who I think was real, and really had the condition, and really put his wife in a coma), and THAT is the real reason he has the tatto on his hand. It's also the reason he decides to kill Teddy, because Teddy seems to now intend on convincing Leo that he's found and killed John G. and he doesn't have to go on killing. With Teddy trying to interfere with Lenny's "quest", he can't remain fixated and his purpose will be undermined, hence he has to put the kibosh on Teddy. This is the real reason for the tatto that reads "remember Sammy Jankis".

What do you think?

Jack Batty
04-25-2001, 01:17 PM
I'm not "explaining away" anything, but I'd like to try to clear up a few misconceptions ...

Originally posted by Jackknifed Juggernaut
We know that the wife lived through the assault because a) her eyes opened up, and b) it is shown that Lenny injected her, and c) Teddy had absolutely no reason to lie about this.
I'm going to address these one at a time.
A - We see her eye open while she was under the sheet. This proves nothing but that that is one of Leonard's last memories pre-trauma.
B - We see him injecting his wife, but we also see him pinching her.The scenes come in rapid succession. These scenes also come when Teddy is telling him what happened. Leonard has no recollection so he his trying to manufacture a memory. He even states that his wife was not diabetic. He rememberd this because his memories pre-trauma have not been affected.
C - Teddy has every reason to lie to Leonard. It's what he does. He tells Leonard whatever he wants to suit the moment because he knows Leonard won't remember it later.

Originally posted by Jackknifed Juggernaut
Sammy Jankis's wife didn't exist because its highly unlikely that 2 men with the same memory condition could have wives with the same condition (diabetes).
See above. Leonards wife was not diabetic. And ... everything Leonard knows about Sammy is pre-trauma. These memories are not affected.


Originally posted by Jackknifed Juggernaut
Lenny is shown to destroy any evidence that might suggest that his mission is complete.

The only evidence he destroys is the evidence of Jimmy's death. After he kills Jimmy is when Teddy lays the stories on him. Teddy has told him that he already helped Leonard kill the real killer, and that he has been leading him towards others just to be able to see that happy look again. Leonard doesn't want that to continue, AND he want's to at least think that he has accomplished his goal. So he puts himself on Teddy's trail. This accomplishes the two things listed above (in his mind he will have killed the killer and Teddy stops messing with him).


here we go 'round the mulberry bush, the mulberry bush ...

ain't we got fun

Jackknifed Juggernaut
04-25-2001, 02:28 PM
Originally posted by Jack Batty

A - We see her eye open while she was under the sheet. This proves nothing but that that is one of Leonard's last memories pre-trauma.
B - We see him injecting his wife, but we also see him pinching her.The scenes come in rapid succession. These scenes also come when Teddy is telling him what happened. Leonard has no recollection so he his trying to manufacture a memory. He even states that his wife was not diabetic. He rememberd this because his memories pre-trauma have not been affected.
C - Teddy has every reason to lie to Leonard. It's what he does. He tells Leonard whatever he wants to suit the moment because he knows Leonard won't remember it later.


Leonards wife was not diabetic. And ... everything Leonard knows about Sammy is pre-trauma. These memories are not affected.


The only evidence he destroys is the evidence of Jimmy's death. After he kills Jimmy is when Teddy lays the stories on him. Teddy has told him that he already helped Leonard kill the real killer, and that he has been leading him towards others just to be able to see that happy look again. Leonard doesn't want that to continue, AND he want's to at least think that he has accomplished his goal. So he puts himself on Teddy's trail. This accomplishes the two things listed above (in his mind he will have killed the killer and Teddy stops messing with him).



This is getting fun.

A - Why show her eyes opening up if it didn't mean anything? Everybody is perfectly happy in assuming that she's dead until that point. The reason is to show us that she wasn't.

B - The first time, we see him pinching his wife. The next time, we see that the pinch is transformed into an injection. Again, why show it in this fashion except to tell us that Lenny's pre-injury memory has also been affected?

C - At the point in the movie when this happens (after Jimmy Grants' murder), what is Teddy's reason for lying? All he really wants to do is get the money from Lenny. Why go through the whole story about Sammy Jankis and Lenny's wife and so forth?


A and B from above (especially B), and the story of Sammy Jankis being a con man, all tell us that Lenny's pre-injury memory has been affected (probably due to the shock to his system when he first realized that he was responsible for his own wife's death).


There is plenty of evidence that he destroys. The opening scene in the movie is a photograph of a dead Teddy being burned in reverse. He obviously burns this photo after he kills Teddy so that he can continue his mission. He also alters the police report to fool himself even further. And in the final scene of the movie, he explains that he would lie to himself.

This is why I pointed out the existential problem that the man has. Without a memory, the only goals in his life are formed by old memories. If these goals are ever fulfilled, his life has no purpose. So he will continuously change the facts to ensure that he still has a goal to accomplish (to punish the rapist and "murderer" of his wife).

Tretiak
04-25-2001, 02:49 PM
I've said it before and I'll say it again, Leonard's pre-attack memories cannot be considered reliable. Leonard himself even discounts using memory, saying it is in general unreliable. So how much more unreliable is it from someone who has suffered a brain injury as well as a some obvious psychological damage.

There is nothing in the movie that would suggest to us that Leonard is reliable. yes, Teddy has lied and for a reason, but there is NO reason for him to create a lie about Sammy not existing and Leonard's wife having diabetes.

It is also highly unlikely that there would be two people with the same short-term memory loss condition. In fact it might be argued that Leonard's condition is strictly psycho-symatic, having developed as a result of his studying the case of the fraud, Sammy Jankis and the attack on his wife which he could not deal with.

And I'm right gosh darn it!! :)

shelbo
04-25-2001, 04:08 PM
The scene at the end/beginning of the movie, just after Teddy has explained all to Lenny, is the clincher for me - and makes me take J Juggernaut's position: Lenny snaps a shot of Jimmy's car on it, and writes "my car" on the photo, even though, at that time he knows it is not his car. He then writes down "fact No. 6", Teddy's license plate number, even though, at that time, he knows that Teddy did not kill his wife.

To me, these are the conscious actions of Lenny's alter-ego (temporarily jarred to the surface by Teddy's rant) designed to further the aims of the alter-ego. Those aims are simple: "Maintain, at all costs, the delusion that someone else killed my wife". Here, the cost is the murder of Teddy, the only one that knows the truth, the only one that might force him to face that truth (the alter-ego knows that by listing Teddy's license number as fact 6, he is effectively telling the "other" Lenny to kill Teddy).

Little Nemo
05-03-2001, 11:43 PM
I agree that Teddy and Natalie are both using Leonard to further their own goals. Both think that Leonard is a perfect patsy. In the worst case scenario, even if he's caught by the police after killing someone on their behalf, he won't be able to testify against them.

The movie showed that both Teddy and Natalie spend a lot of time trying to prevent the other from gaining Leonard's trust (and thereby controlling his actions). Teddy and Natalie both acted as if Leonard was a blank slate they could write anything on and saw each other as their only significant opponent. Which was a mistake because in the final scenes of the movie, Leonard demonstrated that he also had motives and was also capable of using his condidtion to manipulate his actions. Like Teddy and Natalie, Leonard intentionally planted false clues to delude himself.

In my opinion, Leonard did kill his wife with insulin. He spent time in a mental hospital. He realized how empty his life was without a purpose and he intentionally deluded himself into believing his wife had been killed because it gave him a goal. Teddy told him the truth when he said Leonard wanted a puzzle he couldn't solve. When Teddy appeared to be trying to force Leonard to acknowledge the truth, Leonard pointedly didn't just immediately kill Teddy. Instead, he intentionally manipulated the evidence to implicate Teddy in his investigation.

Montfort
05-06-2001, 08:18 PM
Anniz and I saw the film this evening, and I left in a cloud of confusion. Then, I searched for this thread and read it, and the linked sites and images. Thanks.

My question: what's the significance of the prostitute? Leonard called her up to 'pretend' to be his wife in the hotel room. But, why?

GilaB
05-06-2001, 09:54 PM
I think that Leonard called the prostitute in order to condition himself to his wife's leaving.
On the website, in the psychiatrist's notes, it gives the date of Caroline Shelby's death as 11/97. This is months after the date of the attack in the Shelby home according to the police report (I believe it's dated 2/97). I really really want to believe that he didn't kill her and that his injury is physiological, not psychological, but the website does very sneakily tell you that Caroline wasn't killed in the attack. Of course, we can always hypothesize that she lingered in a coma for nine months, sending us back 'round in circles.

trose
05-06-2001, 10:49 PM
Originally posted by Montford
My question: what's the significance of the prostitute? Leonard called her up to 'pretend' to be his wife in the hotel room. But, why?As Leonard later (earlier?) tells Natalie, every morning he wakes up and reaches over to his wife's side of the bed for her; when he finds it cold he assumes she's in the bathroom or something ... in other words, every morning is the day of the attack all over again, and he loses her all over again. He can't work through his grief because every morning he goes back to the beginning.

I think hiring the call girl and recreating the scene as accurately as he can is a desperate attempt to make himself push past that moment.

After seeing it again I had a couple of other thoughts. When Mrs. Sammy is in his office talking about how Sammy isn't the same man, how she just wants her old Sammy back--I realized why he hates being called Lenny. Because he's really remembering his own wife talking to him, saying she wants her old Lenny back.

(OK, I just realized this contradicts what I said before; on the one hand, he doesn't want to be called Lenny because it might make him remember the truth, on the other he wants to relive the day of the attack so he CAN start remembering again ... :sigh: it's a complicated movie, and it's not unreasonable for someone in Leonard's desperate plight to pursue conflicting goals.)

When Leonard and Natalie kiss, I started thinking, what would it be like to have Leonard as a long-time lover? Presumably he could learn through conditioning what pleases the woman, but every encounter would have that wonderful first-time charge. Plus he's Guy Pearce--YOWZA!

Munch
05-07-2001, 10:53 AM
Okay, all of you are completely wrong.

:)

Great movie. But I do have to say this reading the thread: while many people love to interpret a movie they're own way, and I'm bound to come up with my own theory, we should really only be dealing with facts here, especially on The Straight Dope. Granted, its MPSIMS, but gross generalizations and conjectures are misleading, and should be prefaced with an admission of a WAG.

Like many in here, I think one of the key elements in this movie is the scene where we see the tattoo that reads "I've done it", which can be seen here:

http://www.ece.mcgill.ca/~mperez1/memento.jpg

What is extremely important is the fact that right above this tattoo is the backwards tattoo that we've all seen in the movie that reads, "John G. raped and murdered my wife".

Murdered? Then who the hell is that laying naked next to you?!?

Also, for those of you who've seen it a couple of times, what are the exact words and motions that Natalie makes when mentioning the spot where the "I've done it" tattoo "appears"?

Thirdly, what's the deal with the picture of Lenny pointing at his chest? Everything is so blurry to me, that I don't remember any of the conversation that took place regarding this. It appeared during the B&W scene in the hotel while Lenny is giving the Sammy talk on the phone (which I assume to be before he kills Jimmy, correct?), and after he kills Jimmy, when he burns that picture, and the picture he took of the dead Jimmy. Obviously, there is no "I've done it" tattoo on him in the picture, but is there a scar?

Enough with the questions. On with the comments. My browser is being picky, so I can't quote anybody. With that said, someone mentions something about Lenny having the tattoo the whole time, but refuses to see it. I think this is bunk. The movie would have given us more clues if this was the case (like showing him with the tattoo, but him looking in the mirror at himself without the tattoo). I don't buy it.

Damn, I need some answers! (Actually, I just need to go see it again...)

Thanks in advance!

Munch

Spoonbender
05-09-2001, 09:30 PM
Originally posted by Munch
Also, for those of you who've seen it a couple of times, what are the exact words and motions that Natalie makes when mentioning the spot where the "I've done it" tattoo "appears"?
When I saw the movie for the third time (what can I say, I loved it) I made a point to remember this. Natalie places her hand over Leonard's heart (where there is no tattoo or scar visible) and says, "What about here?"

Obviously, there is no "I've done it" tattoo on him in the picture, but is there a scar?

I don't think so. You can see the picture on the Memento web site (http://www.otnemem.com) if you click on "foul" in the newspaper article.

Teddy says that he took the photo right after Leonard killed the real John G. The implication, I think, is that Leonard is pointing at the spot where he intends to get his "I've done it" tattoo. Whether Teddy is telling the truth here is up for debate.

I'm still wondering if Leonard's quest will continue indefinitely after he has killed Teddy. :)

trose
05-09-2001, 10:40 PM
... but I noticed the "blank spot" early on, the first time we see Leonard in his skivvies ::mops brow, takes quick gulp of cold water:: in front of the mirror. No tattoo, no scar, clearly a spot he's saving for something important. I mean, it's right over his heart.

beagledave
05-12-2001, 05:40 PM
Just saw the movie today (it finally made it here this weekend). Film Threat has a pretty good interview (http://www.filmthreat.com/Interviews.asp?File=InterviewsOne.inc&Id=132) with Christopher Nolan, the director. The film is based on a short story written by his brother, and pitched to him on a cross country road trip.

The film was shot in only 25 1/2 days..

The last page of the interview goes into a bit of exploration of what Nolan was exploring in the "revenge" theme he used.

Tattva
05-14-2001, 07:02 PM
Originally posted by Jackknifed Juggernaut
There is plenty of evidence that he destroys. The opening scene in the movie is a photograph of a dead Teddy being burned in reverse. He obviously burns this photo after he kills Teddy so that he can continue his mission.

Well, Memento finally came to me. This thread has been very helpful in sorting through all the thoughts and impressions the movie left me with.

I do want to say this, though. I don't believe the movie ever showed Leonard burning the polariod of the murdered Teddy. The opening scene was the development of the polariod in reverse. So the only burned polaroids that we see in the movie are the one of himself and the one of Jimmy. And I believe those two were burned in the process of framing Teddy in his mind.

I think this thread deserves a bump anyways.

Munch
05-15-2001, 11:01 AM
Originally posted by Tattva
I do want to say this, though. I don't believe the movie ever showed Leonard burning the polariod of the murdered Teddy. The opening scene was the development of the polariod in reverse. So the only burned polaroids that we see in the movie are the one of himself and the one of Jimmy. And I believe those two were burned in the process of framing Teddy in his mind.

I think this thread deserves a bump anyways.

Yes, the opening scene was the photo developing in reverse, but we DO see Leonard burn a couple of photos, namely at the end of the movie. He burns the picture of him pointing to his chest, and of a dead Jimmy.

JoeyHemlock
05-18-2001, 05:35 PM
I saw the film again yesterday, and while I did see some things that support the "Lenny killed his wife" interpretation, I stand by my frequent assertations that Sammy killed his wife, and Leo DIDN'T kill his wife.

Further supporting "my" story:

The whole insulin overdose thing came about because Sammy's wife thought he was faking. She thought this because he couldn't learn through repition, something he should have been able to do. Lenny COULD learn through repitition (that's how he knew about his condition and what pocket to find the pictures in, right?), ergo his wife (had she survived the attack) would have no reason to test him.

Just thought I'd throw that in. I'm right and (if you disagree with me) you're wrong. ;)

Cervaise
05-18-2001, 07:50 PM
I've been reading this thread with a huge grin, seeing all the various theories bandied about, and I'm amazed, after all this time, that nobody has mentioned the license plate.

The what?

The license plate. Sure, it figures in the plot; on that level it's right up front. But did anybody catch that the plate is shown with two slightly different numbers? And nobody in the movie seems to notice?

I'm just tossing in a potentially salient detail here. I'm not deliberately stirring a hornet's nest or anything, but like I said, I'm quite surprised that nobody, apparently, picked up on this or saw fit to comment on it.

JoeyHemlock
05-18-2001, 08:42 PM
Originally posted by Cervaise
The license plate. Sure, it figures in the plot; on that level it's right up front. But did anybody catch that the plate is shown with two slightly different numbers? And nobody in the movie seems to notice?

Actually, I did notice this last night. There is a I/1 mix-up, but I think it's just a mistake since Lenny says "I" even when he's clearly looking at a "1". I think the tattoo got fucked up and so they just had to go with it. I don't think it was a plot thing, but I could be wrong. Good catch, though!

LifeWillFall
05-18-2001, 11:14 PM
Joey, I think you are mistaken about Sammy's wife, she didn't do the insulin thing because he couldn't learn through repetition she did it to snap him out of the whole condition so he would go back to normal, so it is still possible that it was Lenny that killed his wife. Lenny's wife did the insulin thing to "cure" him of his condition totally.

But apparently since I disagree with you I am wrong and you can disregard this entire post.

JoeyHemlock
05-19-2001, 07:50 PM
Originally posted by LifeWillFall
Joey, I think you are mistaken about Sammy's wife, she didn't do the insulin thing because he couldn't learn through repetition she did it to snap him out of the whole condition so he would go back to normal, so it is still possible that it was Lenny that killed his wife. Lenny's wife did the insulin thing to "cure" him of his condition totally.

I don't know how you derived this opinion from the movie, but in the story of Sammy (as related by Lenny in the film)the fact was she thought he was faking, not that she wanted to snap him out of it. If Lenny was falsely accusing Sammy, would the story at least been consistant?

But apparently since I disagree with you I am wrong and you can disregard this entire post.

Now you're learning. :)

Ping
05-23-2001, 11:44 PM
He kills some drug dealer or other criminal that Teddy sets up, after which Teddy takes the "happy" photo of him. He even helps him get the "I did it!" tattoo afterwords (or Lenny does it on himself, I'm not sure and its not important) to "prove" it forever. But Lenny can never see the "I did it" tattoo because with it, his life has no purpose.




So, here's a little psych 101 theory: Leonard had the "I did it tattoo" the whole time after his first killing, as proposed above. But he can't see it. I wouldn't think this is very farfetched, considering how certain psychological condidtions can create drastic misperceptions. People with amputations feel that they still have limbs. There's a perception disorder where people don't know where their own limbs are. It's possible that the "I did it" tattoo is there, but Leonard can't/won't acknowledge it. It explains the "what's this" question, which makes no sense if there's just an empty patch of skin on his chest.

GilaB
05-24-2001, 12:08 AM
People who have had amputated limbs still feel them for neurological reasons, not psychological ones.
I doubt that there was a tattoo there because during the black-and-white scenes, which I do not think are filtered through Leonard's consciousness as the colored scenes may be, we don't see any tatto there, nor do we see a scar.
[whiny voice]Nobody noticed my observation about the dates of the incident and of Mrs. Shelby's death from the website, and now I'm horribly hurt (sniff, sniff).[/whiny voice]

Ping
05-24-2001, 12:11 AM
I think you're right that the movie doesn't make it clear that only skills/behaviors, and not memories, can be learned through repetition.

However, take a look at this site:

http://currawong.psy.mq.edu.au/~max/104/Disorders.html#amnesia

...which distinguishes between procedural memory ("knowing how") and declarative memory ("knowing that"), and says that anterograde amnesia seems to affect declarative memory only.




This is an excellent point. In a psych class I once saw this video about a guy who had a fever that almost completely knocked out this part of his brain. He could remember everything before the fever (wife, kids, etc) but nothing after the fever for more than a few minutes. He was put in a special home. He lived there fore many years, and then, a doctor would say, "where is the kitchen," and the guy would get upset because he knew that he did NOT "know" where the kitchen was. Yet, after many years, if the doctor said, "make me a cup of tea," he COULD go find his way into the kitchen. Similarly, many people with retrograde amnesia are able to "cover for it" by faking recognition when they feel that they should remember someone. This is sort of about meta-cognition (thinking about thinking). I think that Leonard could honestly have severe retrograde amnesia, not be faking it, yet still "remember" to compensate for it cleverly.

Munch
05-24-2001, 09:13 AM
Don't forget (re: Lenny's wife) that the website (if you want to put weight into that) is fairly explicit that his wife died during the attack (actually, it was subsequently after).

I can't believe I just waited 45 minutes to post that...

Spoonbender
05-24-2001, 01:49 PM
Originally posted by Ping
It explains the "what's this" question, which makes no sense if there's just an empty patch of skin on his chest.
For the last time, she doesn't say "what's this," she says "What about here?"

Certain kinds of misperceptions are commonplace: imagining that you hear a bump in the night; mishearing what someone says. But if you cannot see something that is plain as freakin' day - such as a tattoo on your chest - then you must be insane or delusional. Although Leonard has a memory impairment, I don't think there's any evidence that he's insane or delusional.

Spoonbender
05-24-2001, 10:34 PM
I just reread my last post and realized it comes across as rather rude. Didn't mean it to sound that way, Ping. But my point still stands. :)

Munch, where on the web site does it indicate that Mrs. Shelby died in (or shortly after) the attack? The only reference I see is in the newspaper clip, where it says she was "in critical condition" after the break-in.

Spoonbender
05-24-2001, 10:54 PM
Sorry for the triple post, folks, but I keep looking back and seeing additional things I want to comment on.

Originally posted by GilaB
On the website, in the psychiatrist's notes, it gives the date of Caroline Shelby's death as 11/97.

Where do you see this, GilaB? I don't see any specific reference to the date of her death...only the fact that the attack was in 2/97 and Leonard's initial diagnosis was 1/16/98 (which in itself is interesting, however).

quixotic78
05-25-2001, 12:23 AM
I just saw the movie for the first time, so my theories aren't entirely well formed, but I picked up on something, and I can't believe no one else has mentioned it. At the end, after Lenny has killed Jimmy and is leaving, he writes FACT 6: (license number). How the hell did he know that it was Fact Number Six, and not just "Another Fact"? I know Facts 1-3 were tattooed on his left arm, but weren't 4 and 5 tattooed on his leg? What, did he drop trow sometime between the abandoned building and the car to check, "Yup, on to Fact 6"? I also seem to remember him writing, specifically, "FACT 5," where he's on the phone with (Teddy?) and he changes the fact from "Involved with drugs" to "Drug dealer."

So, there are three possibilities: (a) It was a mistake, (b) I missed him checking his leg, and it was apparently REALLY important that he get the number of the fact right (boggle), or (c) He has moments of lucidity, where he CAN remember. I don't think I even want to go down c's route. Shudder. You gotta love a good mindfuck movie, though. I'll have to get my roommate's take on it; she's a huge David Lynch fan, so she's good at getting her mind fucked. :)

Quix

Munch
05-25-2001, 09:05 AM
Originally posted by Spoonbender


Munch, where on the web site does it indicate that Mrs. Shelby died in (or shortly after) the attack? The only reference I see is in the newspaper clip, where it says she was "in critical condition" after the break-in.

Make sure you have shockwave installed, and it will indicate the clickable text you should be finding. If you don't have shockwave, and are using the html site, try to find the hyperlinks (there are 7 or 8 of them). Most notably, click on the word "forgetful" in the last newspaper column. There are several mentions that his wife is deceased.

Ping
05-25-2001, 11:08 AM
Originally posted by Spoonbender
Originally posted by Ping
It explains the "what's this" question, which makes no sense if there's just an empty patch of skin on his chest.
For the last time, she doesn't say "what's this," she says "What about here?"

Certain kinds of misperceptions are commonplace: imagining that you hear a bump in the night; mishearing what someone says. But if you cannot see something that is plain as freakin' day - such as a tattoo on your chest - then you must be insane or delusional. Although Leonard has a memory impairment, I don't think there's any evidence that he's insane or delusional.

I just reread my last post and realized it comes across as rather rude. Didn't mean it to sound that way, Ping. But my point still stands.



Yeah, the whole "what's this"/"what about here" discussion took place after I started to post my comment. Working off a 56K modem here. Anyway, regarding insanity: it's possible to narrow that down to a more specific diagnosis. Two books that are full of true-yet-wacky cases are Toscanini's Fumble and The Man Who Mistook His Wife For a Hat . And if we step outside of reality into movieland, "Fight Club" and "Sixth Sense" are also relevant. Anyway, I agree that Leonard's insanity/delusions are probably much broader than a simple perception thing. He's got this egomaniacal thing going, like he's some holy avenger, and he makes this completely concious decision to keep killing (Teddy). I wonder if this type of disorder could develop after one single traumatic incident, or if maybe it was sort of developing his whole life.

warmgun
09-13-2001, 01:04 AM
Based on lots of help from all involved, here’s my shot at it.
NOTE: This is filled with speculation! I use it to explain things we see on film.

Sammy tries to scam the insurance company. Lenny learns about brain disorders, including the physical and psychological differences, and exposes him.
The attack happened on 2/24/97. There are two attackers. This is backed up by the newspaper story. The last thing Lenny sees (before passing out) is his wife dying. This implies to him she died. But she lives.
The physical trauma and emotional stress cause Lenny to crack. He forms an alter ego to help himself cope. The evidence of this is the two different styles of hand-writing he exhibits in the hospital, even the self-referencing sentence, "You recognize this hand-writing, don’t you?" And he says ‘later’ how important it is to have notes in his own handwriting. The ‘good’ Lenny and the ‘bad’ Lenny now exist. Good Lenny is repressed and made to believe (by b/Lenny) that he has Sammy’s ‘condition’.
Though his wife is alive, b/Lenny pesters the lead cop (Teddy) to help him find the ‘killer’. Though I think revenge for the rape is reason enough for him to help.
Sympathetic, but wary because of Lennys condition, Teddy gives Lenny a doctored version of the police report.
Now on the trail, b/Lenny lets g/Lenny take over. This is why the Lenny we see seems sincere (he wouldn’t talk to himself the way he does otherwise). It’s also why he has a ‘condition’.
This dual personality explains some apparent contradictions in the movie such as remembering his condition, writing "FACT 5:…", etc. He wouldn’t be able to remember what fact he was up to or even that he had a list of ‘facts’ if he had a real condition and were it not for b/Lenny nudging him on these matters. But it’s subtle so g/Lenny doesn’t notice.
He begins to write notes on his body, leading him towards a suspect. This is revealed by his snapping remark to Natalie, "Haven’t you ever written a phone number on your hand?" But it’s not a good system. The notes wash off. This is alluded to several times buy watching him try to wash the ‘Sammy’ tattoo off. This is why he says later he needs a better system. His wife is growing frantic but continues to try to help. He transposes this onto the Sammy story.
Meanwhile, his buddy, the cop (while undercover) sees a way to use Lenny to kill a drug dealer and pocket the cash, and does. Teddy takes the photo. Lenny writes, "I did it" on his chest. This explains the scene towards the ‘end’ of the movie, he and his wife together with the ‘I did it’ written on his chest. He is remembering back.
Realizing what he has done (because of the ‘I did it’ scrawl), his wife is now a threat. B/Lenny uses her diabetes as a weapon against her and purposely injects her and kills her. B/Lenny twists this around and also works it into the Sammy story inflicting ‘his’ contrived ‘memories’ onto unsuspecting g/Lenny.
This turn of events causes Lenny to be hospitalized for observation in Jan of ’98. Trapped, b/Lenny reveals himself to g/Lenny through a set of letters to himself and coaxes him to escape. The evidence for this is the use of the "we" and the second-person style of writing. And we know it’s the b/Lenny because ‘he’ keeps re-enforcing to g/Lenny that his brain is damaged and he wouldn’t remember anything anyway.
His dual personality also explains why he sometimes asks for his wife but writes to himself she is gone.
So in Sept ’98 he/they break out.
He now resumes where he left off not remembering he was even hospitalized. Teddy lures him away from CA to keep him from being caught and to further his manipulation of him.
Lenny institutes his better system by using tattoos instead of writings.
Together, they kill several drug dealers (despite several not fitting the "facts").
Teddy turns Lenny on to Jimmy and sets a drug buy. G/Lenny kills Jimmy. B/Lenny greedily takes his clothes. Teddy shows up for the money temporarily bringing out the g/Lenny again. He confuses and angers him with the truth. Head spinning, g/Lenny gets into Jimmy’s car to leave. Realizing what is happening, he asks himself, "Can I afford to forget what you’ve just told me?" b/Lenny grins and says, "For you, Teddy. I can."
Dodd (Jimmy’s ‘boss’) threatens Natalie. She uses Lenny to get Dodd off her back. In return, she helps him find John G. via the DMV connection. This leads him to Teddy. He kills him.
Movie starts.

Aorlando12
11-11-2014, 04:46 PM
Okay so I read a lot of your theories and from what I've read I've constructed this. It has some holes in it, but they all seem too. I think that's the point, multiple interpretations. But I never thought of it this way before reading this thread so, maybe you guys can adjust/add to mine.

I assumed that the end scene was symbolic. He killed the man who killed his wife so this is a perfect world where he gets her back. Like saving his princess from the dragon, he gets her back (even though it can't be like that because she is dead).

But let's say that memory is real-but obviously Leonard can't remember this.

So after the accident his wife lives and he finds John G with the help of Teddy. Gets the tattoo and gets to cuddle his wife knowing everything is okay. (That scene with the I DID IT tattoo)

Except, everything is NOT okay. He still has this condition which drives his wife mad to the point where she can't take it anymore and she makes him kill her with an overdose of insulin. In his grief he can't remember anything he just knows he did it. (But what else is in that tattoo, does it say he killed John G?- this is also assuming where he got the name john g was valid. Let's assume it is because teddy probably gave it to him and I don't think he'd want to have any possibility of becoming the next John G(since it's his name) -I only say teddy gave it to him because he is a cop and has the resources to get a name).
So, in his grief he only has a I did it! Tattoo on his body but the last thing he remembers is his wife dying. What did he do? Did he kill her? No that can't be. That man behind him killed her. He gets even MORE unstable and eventually gets the tattoo removed -because it severely confused and messed with his mind because at least when his wife was alive the I did it only can work towards killing the man who raped her. Now it can mean he killed her -which he did). So with the tattoo removed his memory is only that she got raped and fell on the floor. He has no memory of her regaining consciousness and NOT dying so why wouldn't he assume she died? Because he is so unstable at this point he gets admitted to an institution -after having killed his wife and removed the tattoo- and decides he is going to get revenge for the rape and murder of his wife- something that isn't true but he can't remember that.

He leaves the institution -which, how can he even do that we don't know- and Teddy takes pity on him, knowing that now he has no reason to live so he decides to help him find a new John G to give this new life without his wife purpose, even though they already killed him. Leonard gets the tattoo and begins his search.

That would mean that Sammy Jenkis IS a conman in this scenario which means the institution and the insulin is a lie that Leonard transfers to Sammy. How? He seems to need the story to help his fragile memory state so perhaps, we already know he is good at conditioning, Teddy somehow helps skew his already known story of Sammy -the conman- to be his own story- the man no one believed- because it helps him stabilize and explain his own condition. But how can he make him remember a whole story via conditioning?

This is just a theory constructed from all of your comments.

I got really confused when i realized that Sammy is faking how does Leonard remember a story that happened after he got his anterograde amnesia?

And, why did Teddy make him check-in at the inn twice?
This never occurred to me until after I watched it in chronological order. He is in the hotel, he shaves his thigh goes and kills John G, gets the tattoo of the license plate, sees Natalie, goes to her house, goes in his car and sees Teddy who tells him to get a room at the same inn he is already staying at (which Burt admits later when he brings him to the wrong room) but why?
1- Burt doesn't correct him when he tries to check in again because he figured he'd get him to pay more
2- he said he told his boss...wouldn't it be a bit crazy if Teddy was his boss? Why else would Teddy tell him to go there again if he already knew Leonard had a room (he kept calling him there, after all) that would actually add to the Teddy is a crooked drug dealer cop theory who has more connections than we realize

And on that note
3- why DOES Teddy keep calling Leonard? To get him to tell his whole story again on the phone? He says the cop who does it is bad and thinks it's funny but if it's him then why? To see how far Leonard is? To help him get to the drug dealer angle and go after Jimmy Grantz? Then why tell him about the 'bad' cop? If the prior sentence is true then it isn't that bad a thing to do, to get Leonard to kill someone to help him gain some sense of closure.
4- why keep the photo of him killing the real John G? The only real explanation is Teddy wanted money so he kept finding rich John G's to kill and when he wanted it to stop give Leonard the picture like he just took it out of the camera and wait for him to forget so it looks like it'd be plausible he was dressed/bloody like that? Or he realizes the only thing Leonard has anymore is vengeance so he keeps the picture so that Leonard can keep going.
5- why does he even have the picture. Leonard would haven wanted it, wouldn't he?


I apologize this is so long. I think I got a little excited.

twickster
11-12-2014, 08:37 AM
Welcome to the SDMB, Aorlando12. This is a really, really old thread -- like, more than a decade -- and many of the original participants are no longer around.

I've moved the thread to our Cafe Society forum (which didn't exist when this thread was new), where we discuss movies, etc.

Hopefully someone will come along who's seen the movie somewhat recently and can discuss it with you.

Again, welcome -- hope you'll poke around a little and find some other conversations to jump in on!

twickster, MPSIMS and Cafe Society moderator

Cubsfan
11-12-2014, 10:58 AM
Good movie. Haven't watched in quite a while.

Don't feel bad about resurrecting a zombie IMHO. I'm on the cusp of doing the same thing.

JKellyMap
11-12-2014, 11:08 AM
I'm glad to see this one resurrected as well. Last Christmas I asked for, and received, the Memento DVD which includes the option of seeing it with the scenes in chronological order. I haven't yet taken the time to do so, but plan to very soon.

What the .... ?!?!
12-04-2014, 10:37 AM
Watched the movie again the other day. This is a tough thread to take in so I stopped at #25 with the intention of going back. Don't want to wait to ask these questions though:

1. Didn't it seem like Dodd opened the shower without even realizing that anyone was inside and the water was running?

2. Seems like Natalie was very quick to take advantage of Leonard's condition. I'd think that she would have needed a little time to figure out how to.

3. Do we know how the Remember Sammy Jankis tatoo came to be?

Bryan Ekers
12-04-2014, 12:39 PM
This thread gets better every decade I read it.

interface2x
12-04-2014, 12:46 PM
Any way we could get the mods to reverse the posts so you have to read it backwards?

Ximenean
12-04-2014, 01:29 PM
OK, but I have to say that your linking scene is not as good as Teddy getting popped in the head, or whatever gangster types say:

This thread gets better every decade I read it.

Dallas Jones
12-04-2014, 02:00 PM
Teddy is the central manipulative bastard in the whole thing.

A John G. did rape Leonard's wife but did not kill her, she survived only to die in the insulin overdose that Leonard falsely attributed to Sammy and his wife. It was really Leonard's wife who tested him and died. Sammy was just a con man that Leonard investigated as part of his insurance job before his injury. Sammy became a mental stand-in to fill in Leonard's memory of his own wife's death. A guilt transference or replacement.

Teddy was the real cop who originally helped Lenny find, and kill, the person who raped his wife. The original John G. After that Teddy began to use Lenny's mental issue for his own gain and led Lenny to kill several John Gs after the original one. The fact that Teddy is also a John G is a red herring. Not relevant except that Lenny finally kills Teddy at the beginning/end.

Natalie's Jaguar driving drug dealer boyfriend is just the latest in a long line of targets that Teddy has steered Lenny toward, for the money. Natalie was just a sharp girl playing both ends of the deal once she realized Lenny's weakness. She was also quite aware that Lenny had killed her boyfriend, was driving his car, wearing his clothes, and probably still had the money. She wanted the money and used Lenny to take out Dodd, whose money it really was.

The guy at the motel was just making extra money by renting rooms to Lenny that he wouldn't remember.

Dodd is just the upper level drug dealer the Natalie's boyfriend owes the money to. Natalie wants him taken out and then get the money from Lenny.

There are several red herrings and mis-directions in this movie that don't all tie together. But it is a very good attempt.