For those who've seen "Memento"... : LUSENET : Xeney : One Thread

I just saw the movie "Memento" this weekend and while I enjoyed it very much, I was left with a number of questions. So, have any of you seen it? And what did you think? (And since any of these answers could possibly be SPOILERS for those who've not seen the movie -- please provide ample warning!)

-- Anonymous, May 22, 2001


I have a few specific questions. Warning: could be a SPOILER for those who've not seen the movie.

My husband and I disagree about a scene at the end of the movie: was there a flash of Leonard in bed with his wife and he had something written on his chest which was the only part that wasn't tattooed during the movie? I swear I saw something -- of course, I didn't read what was on his chest. Anyone? Also, so what do you think -- was Leonard's wife the diabetic? Did Sammy really exist?

-- Anonymous, May 22, 2001

The topic is "for those who've seen it," if you need further spoiler warning.

I thought I saw writing on him too. I think Sammy existed but that Leonard attributed his own wife's way of death to Sammy's to alleviate his guilt. That's why he thinks he remembers it from Before though it actually occurred After.

What I want to know is, what was his wife's favorite book?????? She was reading it before she died; he burned it (or a suitably used copy his unconscious bought to burn again). What *was* it? It was thick enough to be Gone with the Wind or Atlas Shrug. It makes me *crazy* not to know what a character was reading.

-- Anonymous, May 23, 2001

Oops ... I should have put a reminder up there. Even though the topic says "for those who've seen ...," remember that there are a few of us who get these posts by e-mail, so please put in some spoiler spaces before posting. Fortunately my friend Eric already convinced me I didn't need to see this movie.

-- Anonymous, May 23, 2001

I think the whole point of the movie is that memory is unreliable and you're not supposed to know what really happened.

-- Anonymous, May 23, 2001

Yes, Heather, towards the end of the film there was a brief flash of Leonard in bed with his wife with something written on his chest that until that point had not been there. It said, i believe, "I've Done It." The tattoo was in the same spot that earlier in the film he said he was saving for when he found john g.

-- Anonymous, May 23, 2001

Spoiler coming

(I hope that works) In the brief shot at the end that is the only one with the wife and the semi-tattooed leonard, the tattoo is the only one he can't see just by looking at himself. he has to look in the mirror to see it.

I believe we are led to believe his wife did it to him...or he did it himself? I don't know.

Check out the memento webpage for information that may help clarify the movie a bit. I was pretty happy with the ambiguity, but I have to admit I sleep better now knowing there may be a definite answer.

Best movie I've seen in 2001 thus far.

-- Anonymous, May 23, 2001

sorry. i tried. I thought putting in a lot of paragraph breaks would help. I was wrong.

-- Anonymous, May 23, 2001

i've seen it a few times, so i've watched for some of these things. um, spoiler space here: * * * * * * * * the "new" tattoo that you see on leonard at the end says "I DID IT" and is over his heart. it's not the same as the backwards tattoo across his chest, which reads "JOHN G. RAPED AND MURDERED MY WIFE."

there are a couple earlier references to the "I DID IT" tattoo: when natalie takes off his shirt and sees his tattoos, she notices the blank spot over his heart and says "what about here?" L. responds "that's for when i've found him." and in the polaroid of L. that teddy supposedly took right after they successfully killed the "real" john g., L. is smiling and pointing to his chest.

in any case, i take the scene with L. + his wife in bed as a daydream/fantasy.

i agree with jennifer that we're not really supposed to know exactly what happened, but there are some clues pointing towards L.'s wife being the real diabetic. during the short scene where sammy is sitting in the hospital after his supposed wife's death, for a brief flash he appears to be leonard instead (a la brad pitt in _fight club_). and in the b/w scene where L. is tattooing himself, there are some similarities between the way he handles his homemade tattoo pen and sammy's flicking of the insulin needle.

could be taken as just hints or suggestion, of course. etc., etc.

-- Anonymous, May 23, 2001

I think Sammy existed, but Leonard's wife was the diabetic, since this is what Teddy said at the end. It appeals to my sense of dramatic irony that the one character who was telling the truth during the film is the one that is labelled a liar.

-- Anonymous, May 23, 2001

The scene where he's in bed with his wife was a real flashback. I think that after the 'incident,' before he killed her accidentally, he was looking for his wife's killer, since he couldn't remember she had survived. He got the tatoos while she was still alive. So the poor woman had to stand by while he searched for John G, and finally couldn't take it it anymore...

-- Anonymous, May 23, 2001

The scene where he's in bed with his wife was a real flashback.

it could be a real flashback, but the "I DID IT" tattoo would be an imaginary embellishment.

-- Anonymous, May 23, 2001

Spoiler Warning

Holly - now THAT's an interesting angle. I didn't even think that he could have been searching for the killer while she was still alive. That could be why they kept hinting at the fact she didn't really die in the accident and showing scenes like her breathing and blinking in the shower curtain. I do want to see it again. *My* memory is starting to prove unrealiable. I want to know, also, what book she was reading. The pages of it are even on one of the main pages of the web site. Did they not mention what book it was when he was asking why she was reading it again? Or were they just trying to get to the irony of going through something over and over when you already know how it ends....

-- Anonymous, May 24, 2001

I think that, in addition to being about the unreliability of memory, the movie is about the capacity of humans for evil. *Everyone* in this movie is bad. The Teddy character and the girl and even the motel clerk were using Leonard for their own purposes. Then in the end, Leonard who, up until then, has been a sympathetic character makes a conscious decision to kill Teddy even though he knows Teddy did not really rape and kill his wife.

-- Anonymous, May 24, 2001

Geez, I saw this movie and It hink it is the best mystery/thiller since The Usual Suspects, maybe even better

but so mnay questions. I thought in the very end when he has the "I did it" tattoo he was in bed with Natalie. Remember she said she would use him and he wouldn't know it, then they would still be best friends or even lovers.

I think the natalie thing broke down a bit. Like who the fuck was Dodd? Did Natalie know who Teddy was when she gave Leonard the envelope? did she know he had killed Jimmy Grants when he walked into the bar in his clothes? If so, why did she take him home?

I think the Teddy explanation at the end is pretty straightforward, I think his wife was a diabetic and he accidentally killed her. I didn't quite understandthe part with the hooker putting the stuff around the room though. Wierd.

-- Anonymous, May 28, 2001

Spoilers ahead:

I think the hooker putting the stuff in the room is their way of setting Leonard up to kill Teddy later in the movie--it shows that he has the capacity to deceive himself in order to have a few minutes' pleasure (the pleasure in the case of the hooker being giving himself the temporary illusion that his wife was still alive).

I don't think his wife was really diabetic. If she were diabetic, he would remember it, as his memories from before the accident were supposedly intact. I guess it's possible that he could have somehow blocked it out, but it seems more likely that Teddy made the story up in order to keep Leonard in his power.

But like I said before, I think the writer specifically left the ending open to many interpretations.

-- Anonymous, May 28, 2001

spoilers ahead. * * * * * * * * * * * * * Like who the fuck was Dodd? Did Natalie know who Teddy was when she gave Leonard the envelope? did she know he had killed Jimmy Grants when he walked into the bar in his clothes? If so, why did she take him home?

dodd was one of jimmy's associates. natalie lied to leonard about getting beaten up by dodd, but she was rightfully worried that once dodd realized jimmy was missing, he would start asking her questions. when he saw leonard driving jimmy's car, he realized something was up, and started chasing him around.

i don't know whether natalie had ever met teddy--it seems likely that she didn't--but she knew that he had something to do with jimmy's death. when she showed leonard the picture of her and jimmy, and leonard asked what happened to him, she replied, "he went to meet someone and never came back. a guy named teddy."

she didn't know anything had happened to jimmy until leonard drove up in jimmy's car and clothes. that's why she treated him so weirdly when he came in the bar--she thought he had done something to jimmy and was trying to fuck around with her. when he told her about his "condition," she didn't believe him until she did the spitting-in-the-beer-mug trick. once she realized he really did have a memory problem, she figured that something was really wrong, and she probably took him home so she could keep him around while she figured out what was going on.

-- Anonymous, May 28, 2001

Now I'm obsessed with the book Leonard's wife was reading. Didn't she & Leonard have a conversation in which he asked her what she was reading, she tells him, and he gives her shit about her having read it previously ???

I DO remember that the wife was the same chick from ER who introduced Carter to lesbianism.

-- Anonymous, May 31, 2001

As much as I dislike literal-minded interpretations, etc., here is my literal-minded interpretation:

Sammy's story is actually Leonard's story. Leonard has replaced the memory of what actually happenned between he and his wife with a fictionalized Sammy story in order to displace his own guilt. In order to create this false memory, Leonard gets the "remember sammy" tattoo and obsessively re-tells himself the fictionalized Sammy story. Identity thru routine. Sammy was just a would-be insurance de- frauder who Leonard caught some time before he and his wife were attacked. Sammy's wife was not diabetic. Sammy did not kill his wife. Sammy is a convenient way for Leonard to escape his own guilt.

Teddy is a detective. He did actually help Leonard to track down and kill his attackers but when Leonard refused to "accept" or remember that he had done so, Teddy decides to use Leonard and Leonard's desire for revenge to the dirty cop's own benefit. Teddy and Leonard rob drug dealers. (so it turns out that Leonard uses memory for his own gain, ie, not taking responsibility for his wife's death and that Teddy also uses Leonard's false memory for his own gain.) In each new drug dealer take down, Teddy gives Leonard just enough clues to get him going down the path that will lead to the drug dealers murder. in each of these, Leonard thinks he is hunting down his wife's attackers, but he is in fact just hunting down new marks for Teddy.

Teddy sets up the last drug dealer and Leonard kills him. However, in the ensuing fight between Leonard and Teddy, Teddy reveals what has been going on, thinking that Leonard will not remember, only this time, Leonard, in a moment of anger and clarity, realizes he is being maniuplated and is forced to accept his complicity in TEddy's schemes and in his own wife's death, and sets about to devise his own hunt/game. He creates for himself just enough clues and hints and suggestions so that he will hunt down and ultimately kill Teddy. He sets about to dupe himself in the same manner in which Teddy has been duping him, only this time, and for a minute or two he knows it, he is setting himself up to take revenge on Teddy, the dirty cop who has been using him and who knows the painful truth about what really happenned to his wife.

The Dodd incident is another case of somebody using Leonard's condition for their own benefit. Since the drug dealer's girlfriend/bartender (i forget her name, heh) probably set up the deal between her boyfriend and Teddy, she will be suspected by her bf's proteges as being in on the rip-off. She uses Leonard, who has in fact just killed and robbed her drug dealer boyfriend, to provide her with some measure of protection. Although she probably hasnt been threatened by Dodd or anyone else at the time, she is thinking ahead and knows that she will probably take some flak (or worse) for the deal gone bad, and so she decides to use Leonard and his woman protecting tendencies (over-compensation for his own guilt?) in order to provide her with some insurance. She gets the "jump" on Dodd, just as Leonard gets the jump on Dodd by waiting for him in his motel room. Teddy uses Leonard to do his dirty work and she sees this and does likewise.

One idea that Leonard constantly refers to throughout the movie is that it is possible to create memory, and identity, through routine or conditioning. He conditions himself to believe that his wife died in the attack and that Sammy killed his own wife, neither of which are true. Teddy conditions Leonard to become a killer and after going thru their routine so many times, Leonard eventually becomes a killer. Why then does he kill Teddy? Simply for revenge? Perhaps, but I like to think that it's because Leonard realizes that he no longer has a real quest, a mission, and so he has to create one for himself. This explains why he does not kill Teddy right away at the abandoned warehouse where he has many opportunities to do so. He needs some purpose, some mission, some quest that tells him who he is, even though he realizes (for a minute anyway) that this quest is false. It doesnt matter. What matters is that he has become a hunter and that is all he knows how to do, the only way he knows how to live. So he creates another puzzle for himself that he knows will lead to him killing Teddy. He begins with the ending in mind, killing Teddy, which is also where the film begins.

-- Anonymous, June 02, 2001

By taking some vigorous swipes with Occam's Razor, I deduce the following:

Teddy is both a cop and a drug dealer, and (I'm going out on a limb here, but I'll try to justify it at the end) Teddy killed Leonard's wife. When Teddy finds out about Leonard's quest for vengeance, Teddy decides that Leonard would be a useful tool. Teddy, through his police contacts, obtains a copy of the police reports, redacts them to cover up clues that would lead Leonard back to him, and gives the redacted copies to Leonard. Also, Teddy sets Leonard up with a room at the Discount Inn, where Teddy deals drugs. Teddy insinuates himself into Leonard's life, so that Leonard could be manipulated into killing Teddy's rivals.

After one of these killings (possibly, although not necessarily, the first), Teddy takes a Polaroid of Leonard. In the picture, Leonard is triumphantly pointing at his left chest, the place where he intends to tattoo the "I succeeded" message. Teddy hangs on to this picture, and when Leonard forgets what he's done, Teddy sets him up for his next target.

Over time -- perhaps because he repeatedly observes things that don't add up -- Leonard becomes conditioned to not-quite-trust Teddy.

After Leonard kills Jimmy Grantz, Teddy shows up, and at first pretends not to know Leonard. When Teddy changes his story, Leonard realizes that Teddy is playing with his head. Teddy tries to feed Leonard a story about how Leonard killed his own wife, etc., etc., and gives Leonard the picture of himself. Teddy hopes that accusing Leonard of misremembering how his wife died will make him upset and make him lose his train of thought, so he'll forget that he killed Jimmy. However, seeing the picture gets the gears turning in Leonard's mind: At the time that picture was taken, I obviously believed that I had avenged my wife. But why didn't I get the tattoo to remind myself? Because Teddy held onto the picture. Why wouldn't Teddy want me to know I had succeeded? Because he wanted me to go on killing. For using me in this way, Teddy deserves to die. But I'm not convinced that Teddy killed my wife -- although, hmm, he says he's another James G. -- so I can't bring myself to kill him now, and he knows it. So Leonard throws away Teddy's keys to buy himself time, writes a note on the back of Teddy's picture to remind himself not to trust Teddy, and then deceives his future self, by taking down Teddy's license plate number and having it tattooed as the last "fact". He drives off in Jimmy's Jaguar, which also has the money that Jimmy had brought for what he thought would be a drug buy.

Teddy catches up to Leonard at the tattoo parlor, but Leonard is suspicious of him (I don't remember whether or not he checks the note on Teddy's picture) and gives him the slip.

Natalie is Jimmy's boyfriend (remember that picture of the two of them?). Before Jimmy had left to meet Leonard, Natalie had given him a bar coster with a note to "come by after". While driving the Jaguar, Leonard notices the note and goes to the bar. Natalie sees Leonard pull up in Jimmy's clothes and Jimmy's car, confirms his story of the memory problem, and takes him home.

Natalie realizes that Dodd will be looking for that drug money. By goading Leonard into hitting her and then telling him that Dodd beat her up, she manipulates him into going after Dodd. From her point of view, if Dodd kills Leonard and takes the money back, Natalie will be safe, and if Leonard kills Dodd, she profits.

Dodd and Leonard catch up with each other, Leonard takes the picture of Dodd in duct tape, and Leonard gets rid of Dodd. Dodd is probably not actually killed -- remember that (a) Leonard insists that he and not Teddy drive Dodd away, and (b) Leonard shows Natalie a picture of Dodd in duct tape, not a picture of Dodd's corpse. However, Natalie thinks that Leonard and/or Teddy have killed Dodd.

To reciprocate, Natalie runs the plate number that Leonard has, giving Leonard documented proof of Teddy's real name. Leonard concludes that Teddy is the killer, lures Teddy to the same abandoned building where Leonard had killed Jimmy, and kills Teddy. The Beginning.

I don't believe that Leonard's wife was the real diabetic, because:

I would bet that Teddy actually killed Leonard's wife, because: Elementary, my dear Watson.

-- Anonymous, June 04, 2001

Wow, thanks, Seth. *****spoilers***** (are we still warning?)

Seth's is the interpretation I like and have decided to adopt. But when I saw the movie my original reaction was that by burning the pictures of Jimmy's corpse and his celebration after killing, Leonard was erasing the evidence of the past just so he could go back to doing what he was fixated on doing. Searching and killing. And I was repulsed and felt betrayed by this character that I had sympathized with.

But my husband thought that Leonard was trying to stop the cycle of killing, not go back into it. I find this explanation at least as plausible as my original one. And it makes me feel better about Leonard and about the whole piece.

Oh, and I totally don't believe that Leonard killed his wife. Teddy was just fucking with him. He was good at it.

One more question. Was anyone else bothered by the blinding bright white sheen of Joe Pantoliano's teeth (actor who played Teddy)? I think this teeth bleaching thing has gone too far.

-- Anonymous, June 04, 2001

But when I saw the movie my original reaction was that by burning the pictures of Jimmy's corpse and his celebration after killing, Leonard was erasing the evidence of the past just so he could go back to doing what he was fixated on doing. Searching and killing. And I was repulsed and felt betrayed by this character that I had sympathized with.
I don't think Leonard was fixated on searching and killing. If he were fixated on searching, then after hunting down and killing his wife's murderer, he would have hunted down and killed the murderer's associates and collaborators. If he were fixated on killing, then he would have killed Teddy right after killing Jimmy.

The most interesting thing about Leonard, when you compare him with your standard revenge-thriller hero, is his commitment to belief in objective reality. Note this statements to various people that: even though he wouldn't remember taking his revenge, it needs to be done; eyewitness memory is notoriously unreliable, so an investigator has to focus on objective facts; the world doesn't go away when you close your eyes. It's very Philip-K.-Dick-ish, except that if this were a Dick story, the objective facts would be shifting out from under Leonard.

When Leonard takes down Teddy's license number and destroys the pictures of himself and Jimmy Grantz, he's betraying himself (his goal of avenging his wife and his future self's trust in his objectivity) so that he can make up for killing Jimmy.

-- Anonymous, June 04, 2001

I remain perplexed after reading these responses. :)

Apparently, I am still the only person in the world who vehemently hated the movie. It sounds like you all loved it. I got the concept and agree that to make the film was an art itself, but I got bored, frankly. I got tired of the sequences and I've decided that's because I just wasn't smart enough to care about putting it all together.

Oh well. If anyone else had this experience, please email me and let me know I'm not the only freak who disliked this movie. You'd make my day! (I wrote the reviewer of because he also hated it. He said he was getting hate mail for saying he hated the movie. Doh!)

-- Anonymous, June 05, 2001

to all the poor souls trying to figure out what book leonard's wife was reading: they don't mention the title, and it's not clearly visible onscreen--the spine and cover are worn and blurred. in the flashback scene where leonard sees her reading it, he just says, "haven't you read that a million times already?"

-- Anonymous, June 05, 2001

Heh. Yeah Seth...that makes sense w/r/t Leonard's wife not being a diabetic and also in terms of Teddy being the original John G attacker. Nicely reasoned.

By the way, the book Leonard's wife was reading-- Remembrance of Things Past? OK, I guess not.

-- Anonymous, June 06, 2001

I checked the website, and it doesn't say that his wife died in the attack. It does mention that she was in critical condition following the attack... but that doesn't always lead to death. And in one of the psychiatrist's notes, it says something about "the circumstances surrounding his wife's death," which could be support for either interpretation.

-- Anonymous, June 07, 2001

I didn't really like the movie, either. It was too unsatisfactory, although I suppose it's made me interested enough to hunt for answers on the internet.

My question: How did Lenny know that he was looking for a "John G." in the first place? Who set him up for that?

-- Anonymous, June 17, 2001

One question that I have, is what is the significance of Leonard's wife still being alive in some of his memories? (she's blinking underneath the shower curtain a few times.) Even if the web site confirms via newspaper clipping that she was killed in the attack, why does she appear to have survived?

In response to the question of how Leonard knew that "John G." killed his wife, perhaps Teddy was indeed the killer/drug dealer/cop that has been theorized here, and had given Leonard that information as a means to control him. Even though the tattoo says "John G.", Leonard begins looking for a "James G.". Why?

There appeared to be two assailants when the attack occurred. Is it possible, then, that Teddy was the one who slammed Leonard's head into the wall, and then killed his wife?

Too many questions. Augh.

-- Anonymous, June 26, 2001

Forgive me, I just saw it this weekend. I have to agree with the / Charles Taylor fan above. I enjoyed watching the movie, but was pissed off at the end. Anyone can make a convoluted story NOT make sense at the end, right? It takes genuine talent to tie off the loose ends.

But of course here I am, on the Internet searching for clues. So I think that was Chris Nolan's whole M.O. - he's created a cult of Memento, and I'm a reluctant member.

Final thoughts - Leonard and his wife didn't have as dreamy a marriage as he let on: "Don't be such a prick..." "My wife always called me Lenny...I hated that."

Has anyone read the short story "Momeno Mori"?

BTW, I like Fred's explanation better than Seth's.

-- Anonymous, June 26, 2001

SPOILER: My interpretation:

Wife is raped, Lenny kills one assailant with gun, but received extreme trauma to the head after being bashed against the wall. The site says that she was only raped, not killed. This implies a 2nd assailant (Teddy/John G).

(Q: Why was she raped by two men? Was this random, or is there more to the story?)

[ Not in the movie, but from website: Lenny ends up in mental hospital for quite some time. Also, acquires some initial tatoos (like the "John G raped and murdered my wife" one -- how did he figure that out?) The doctors attempt to retrain him (probably with tests similar to the ones that they administered to Sammy). ]

Teddy, James, Dodd and Natalie are all drug dealers. As such, they also want to do each other off. (Natalie wrote "turn him on to Teddy OR get rid of him" (something like that). Teddy was overjoyed that James was knocked off. I don't enough about James or Dodd.) I don't believe Teddy is a cop (if he is, a very criminal cop: he suggests killing others and stealing Dodd's car).

Side plots: Natalie falls for Lenny. Memory of Sammy gets distorted with his own memory. Teddy tries to throw Lenny off the trail.

Unresolved: Was he with his wife in the last scene with the new tattoo? Or was that Natalie? Or was it a false memory? Is his wife really alive, perhaps held hostage by Teddy? Who took that bloody polaroid of shirtless Lenny? What were all the details on that map that Lenny had in his motel room?

-- Anonymous, June 28, 2001

Salon just posted an in depth analysis of Memento: how the movie was constructed, who you can believe, which shots are "real" and which are not, etc. It makes a lot more sense than I originally thought. It's *very* thoroughly thought out.

-- Anonymous, June 28, 2001

Slate also has a bit about the plot holes in the movie.

-- Anonymous, June 28, 2001

Just a clarification (then I'm off to Salon to read the tome...)

Lenny was *definitely* with his wife at the end of the movie, and the tattoo over his heart said "I've done it".

-- Anonymous, June 29, 2001

You guys have to stop talking about this movie for the next fourteen hours, because we found out that it's still playing in one theater here and we're going to go see it tonight so I can read that Salon article and figure out what the hell y'all are on about.

-- Anonymous, June 30, 2001

I saw it this afternoon at Pipers Alley - and by far, my favorite part was how immersive it was. I went in, knowing enough to be determined to try and keep track of the backwards flow (but ended up being boondoggled by the forwards running B&W portions) - so my own memory of the scenes became untrustworthy and corrupted. I'm having the most trouble with the Natalie character - a) what was with the tirade? and b) how did Jimmy know about him and why would he tell Natalie? There was a huge set-up in that situation, and it's unexplained.

As I was leaving the movie, a very interesting thing happened. Two guys in front of me were excitedly discussing the film, when one guy said to the other, "On his chest, at the end, it says, "I did it." And I paused and smiled to myself. Because that's now what it says at all - and the fact that, in a film about memory, these two guys left thinking otherwise is just freaking brilliant.

A fantastic film. I left befuddled and bewitched and plan on buying this baby on DVD.

-- Anonymous, July 01, 2001

We just saw it and we loved it, although everyone else in the theater hated it (very vocally, all through the movie).

I haven't gone to read the web page or the Salon article yet, but I will tell you that both Jeremy and I left the theater thinking that his wife wasn't dead at all, or at most that she had died in the way he had convinced himself that Sammy's wife had died. As someone said above, she had to live with him obsessively searching for the man who had killed her, because he couldn't remember that she was alive, or that he had already avenged her.

But the reason he couldn't remember that he had already avenged her was that Teddy kept destroying the photos and leading him astray. After he killed Teddy, there was no one to destroy the last photo, so he believed he had succeeded and had the "I've done it" tattoo put onto his chest.

We didn't believe the scene with his wife was a fantasy because only the black and white scenes with Sammy seemed to be fantasies.

-- Anonymous, July 01, 2001

Okay, now that I've read the website and the Salon article, I don't really find the movie confusing at all. The Salon chronology is basically what I thought happened, with a couple of motivations explained a little better. The website makes it clear that his wife lived through the attack (I think someone earlier in this thread said the opposite ... we must have been reading a different web page), and also puts L. more firmly into Sammy's position as he described it in the movie. His wife *was* the diabetic, he *did* kill her accidentally, and the scene with the "I've done it" was a fantasy, not a flashback. The movie isn't as hard to understand as it felt like it was when we first left the theater.

-- Anonymous, July 01, 2001

I saw "Memento" twice and it only gets more confusing the second time... But now that I went to the official website and read the salon's article dex.html I am certain there is no answer to the puzzle.

Most scenes and facts in the movie contradict each other, which means the only person who can know the answer is the director. However, even though the director, in his interview, says there is an answer, there is none. He is saying this purposely to have people continue watching and discussing his film, same thing I would be saying was I in his shoes. The only way to find out all the answers is for the director to explain everything, and until he does we are all helpless. And even if he does tell what really happened, there will be scenes in the movie which will not fit.

For example, if Leonard killed his wife by giving her the insulin shot - why do we get a scene in the film of them together, and wouldn't he remember his wife was diabetic? After all, this is the old memory which hasn't been damaged. But if he didn't kill his wife with an insulin shot, why does he remember for a second that he gave her the shot and why does Jimmy call him Sammy? Again, most scenes in the film contradict each other which means there is no definite answer. I am not telling you to stop searching for the answer, but I am telling you that only the director has all the answers and most likely he will never tell - that would only destroy his film, which is probably the most brilliant film ever made. Thanks for reading.

-- Anonymous, July 02, 2001

I loved Memento! Or did I? Have I seen it? I forget...

-- Anonymous, July 03, 2001

***USUAL SPOILER WARNINGS***The official website includes a psychiatric report referring to Leonard as not accepting his wife is deceased. But I think the website is a red herring. There is no reason from the film to assume that Leonard's wife was killed in the attack . But if Leonard could only remember that she had been killed, he would feel he had to avenge her death even though she was still alive. The Sammy story verifies the condition Leonard has as genuine and is Leonard in reverse. Sammy cannot see that he is killing his wife and Leonard that his wife has survived. What Teddy tells Leonard is inconsistent and can't be reagarded as all true. What he says is intended to torment Leonard, knowing that he will forget it. Except that Leonard sets up the clues for himself to track down Teddy as the killer. This frees Leonard, the final tattoo memento there as a continually reminder. But if the scene of Leonard with his wife represents more than his mental state, how could he have found his way back to her? The only other thing is that Leonard kills Teddy for a crime that didn't happen. It looks like Teddy was involved in the attempted murder of Leonard's wife and he also used Leonard to kill for him. So in a way he got what he deserved. But Leonard's motives are not morally clear. (Teddy questions what Leonard has become). The Sammy story backs this up - Sammy was aware he forgot and compensated. Leonard knew what he was doing when he left himself false clues. The ending reminds me of The Player.

-- Anonymous, July 21, 2001

Lots and lots of **SPOILERS** in this post... * * * * * * * * Teddy claims that all of Leonard's "Sammy" memories really apply to Leonard himself; in this Teddy is correct.

I believe Leonard's condition is psychological (just as Sammy's was according to Leonard's memories), meaning that he cannot *consciously* form memories. However, because he can (like "Sammy") physically create new memories, his subconscious can translate post- incident events into false memories of Sammy's case. (This wouldn't really happen in a real anterograde amnesiac, because the condition actually results from severe physical damage to the hippocampus or amygdala, but given the movie's setup that Sammy had a psychological condition, it's plausible.)

For example, the knowledge of exactly how "Sammy's" wife tricked Sammy something that would have been known to Leonard. So, it must be a memory of his own wife's actions that his subconscious was able to project onto a false memory of Sammy.

There are two flashbacks of Leonard pinching his wife's hip, and one of him injecting insulin into her hip. Chronologically, the injection flashback comes *first*, meaning that we actually see his subconscious changing his flashback to cover up his wife's diabetes.

Of course, the memory of Sammy in the mental hospital is almost certainly one of Leonard in the hospital. Evidence is the subliminal image of Leonard in the hospital, and the canonical

Teddy says that the "Sammy" story gets better every time. Indeed it does: by the chronological end of the film, Leonard says that Sammy was disorganized in his notes; at this point, Leonard has mountains of loose notes in his notebook, and (more importantly) has one whole fact-tattoo (number 5) that he never successfully connects with Teddy before the chronological end of the movie.

Slate complains about some plot holes that don't really exist. ( First, that Leonard inexplicably knows about his condition. But he doesn't really. It seems like he has to glance at his hand and read "remember Sammy Jankis" in order to recall his condition. Also, he doesn't really have a handle on what it is. He repeatedly calls his anterograde amnesia a "short-term memory" disorder; it is not. Rather, his short-term memory is completely intact, while he cannot form new *long-term* memories. He may have gotten a minimal understanding of the disorder during his insurance-business tenure.

Also, anterograde amnesia only affects declarative ("knowing-that") learning, not procedural ("knowing-how") learning. For example, in the case of patient H.M., H.M. was able to learn such tasks as drawing in a mirror, but was unable to recognize the researcher who studied him for 40 years. Thus, Slate is wrong when it complains that Leonard knows how to use a gun, lockpick, and tattoo pen.

In contrast to what Slate claims, Natalie doesn't magically know when Leonard's memory will go blank; rather, she is able to purge his short-term memory (the intact part of his memory) by distracting him. Since none of his thoughts can be transfered to his long-term memory, she can get away with spitting in his beer and lying about Dodd.

I'm afraid I've gone on too long, but maybe some people can help me with some small points. 1) Do we ever see evidence that Teddy is a cop, except for his say-so? For example, does he flash a badge when he presents himself in the tattoo-parlor's back room? 2) Is Teddy's license plate number the same on his car, Leonard's tattoo, and Natalie's DMV information? I know it's an "I" on the car and the DMV info, and a vertical line on Leonard's note, butI have this vague memory of the tattoo woman getting distracted and putting a "1" rather than an "I" for the second-to-last digit. It seems strange that the tattoo woman would make the tattoo without first stenciling the design in for Leonard's inspection.

-- Anonymous, July 22, 2001

Wow, really good post. That all makes sense.

I think Teddy *did* flash a badge at one point -- we don't see it up close, but I think we do see a badge. As for the license plate number, I don't know about that one.

-- Anonymous, July 23, 2001

I'd always assumed that Leonards wife was dead. But if you think she survived, and after reading janes post it started me thinking, there is nothing to say she was dead for sure. So how would Leonard have responded to that? His memory would be stuck at the point when he thought she was dead, so every time she was out of sight for more than fifteen minutes he would think she was dead again. But I dont know how plausible any of the story line is. Leonard would have to reread all his tatoos and work everything out again and again, wouldnt he? I think the Sammy story line is there to give some background to Leonard's affliction. Does anyone know how real the way this condition is portrayed is?

-- Anonymous, July 23, 2001

Just a consideration: Why would L. be looking for a John or James G??? John G = the cop dude James G = "Jimmy"- Natalie's boyfriend. Didn't his last name start with G?

Could it be that those two were in on the murder together? And that's why Leonard had the two names written on him? Kind of lends to the accomplice theory...

Or am I just completely confused?

-- Anonymous, July 24, 2001

Who was Leonard talking to on the phone? Any ideas?

-- Anonymous, July 26, 2001

I thought it was Teddy.

-- Anonymous, July 26, 2001

As much as the end of the movie makes you go, "woah, how much of that is real" I think for the most part Teddy's final exposition is right on, and I assumed it was Teddy calling him on the phone, just to sort of mess with him.

-- Anonymous, July 26, 2001

How did he remember to pick up the phone when it rang?

-- Anonymous, July 28, 2001

What we need to establish is exactly what book Leonard's wife was reading. I know we could judge a great deal from just its cover.

-- Anonymous, August 01, 2001

Thank you, Simon. I thought I was the only one who understood how vital it is. (Actually I don't think it's vital to understanding the *movie*, unless it hints at whether she would have set up L the way Sammy's wife did Sammy.)

-- Anonymous, August 01, 2001

I review books *and* films on my show. I thought it would be a good way to link the two. I emailed my researchers about it and I'll see if they have found out for me when I return from my holiday.

-- Anonymous, August 01, 2001

How does Jimmy recognize L. before L. kills him?

-- Anonymous, August 03, 2001


-- Anonymous, August 03, 2001

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