A Matter of Time and Memento Mori”

The short story “Memento Mori,” written by Jonathan Nolan, and the film translation, Memento, directed by Christopher Nolan, both provide a complex and heartfelt look at one man’s attempts to recognize his one and only desire, while constantly struggling against the inadequacies of his own perception. Leonard (Earl in the short story) believes that his only purpose in life is to avenge his wife’s murder. He understands his mental limitations, but knows that this one quest is real. Leonard is so absorbed in his blind emotions that he is unable to distinguish the difference between reality and the fallacies that he has subconsciously created in order to protect himself. This primal nature leads to one of the single most prevalent themes in the story: the distortion of truth with the passage of time. As the months fly by, Leonard’s motivations are warped and enhanced to the point where it seems as if he doesn’t truly remember where to direct his anger. All he knows is that his wife was supposedly murdered, and he is supposed to punish the man responsible, in the case of the film, John G. Time is a force comparable to momentum; as it builds up, it affects everything in its path. Leonard’s emotions and perceptions of truth are a product of time, and they are constantly molded by the inaccurate accounts of human experience. Throughout both the story and the film, this uncomfortable reality is emphasized through the meticulous use of a unique point of view and a constantly shifting, and seemingly arbitrary, setting.

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