5/45/85: THE LOOKOUT

Equilibrium in MEMENTO

Another aspect of this week's discussion noted in the Learning Assessments is the idea of narrative equilibrium and whether it can be applied to Memento or not. What do you think? How much does your answer to this question depend how you see Leonard as a character, whether the role he fills is that of hero or villain, protagonist or antagonist, whether he is a reliable or unreliable narrator?


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Alexander Bellairs

Because of the special situation and perspective of Memento (those being, Leonard's), equilibrium through the movie is either never present or is constantly present. Leonard lives literally in the moment, relying on his direct surroundings and a few notes to give him all the back story of where he is. In one sense, this means that his life (which is the perspective of the film) has no equilibrium because he is always being thrust into a new and different situation, nothing ever seeming to follow from anything else. He trusts that there is continuity in the world outside himself, but he is virtually unable to keep track of it himself. On the other hand, since his entire life is now based on constant change, that has become his equilibrium. Its harder to justify, but living in constant change means there's nothing short of complete "normalcy" that can be a radical change.
Whichever is the case, I feel it would be very hard if not impossible, at least with my experience, to find a point when equilibrium is disturbed within the plot of Memento. The only event that sticks out to this effect is the murder of Leonard's wife, but that's almost an event outside the plot of the movie, even though its central to the motivations.

Brandon F

I like what Alexander had to say about equilibrium being either never present or always present. it depends on how you see the film. if you think of it as, Leonard's life and during what we see of it he never leaves or regains equilibrium.
I feel like the movie is trying to make a point about equilibrium. They show us glimpses of Leonard's life with his wife to show that this is what life is like in equilibrium, but , the rest of the movie is about life without equilibrium. in doing this we not only see what life is like with or without equilibrium but we also see what a movie is like with or without equilibrium. the flashes of Leonard's previous life show us a glimpse of a life and a movie we are used to seeing. the rest of the movie shows us what life and a movie are like when you take away equilibrium. We do not start with it do not loose it and do not get it back. It is just a jumbled up bunch of facts that Leonard and we the audience have to try to peace together and in the end we really haven't got anywhere.

Aurea Escobedo

The equilibrium in the movie was not really there, the movie was here and there and you had to figure out what and where you were at in the movie. I think that this messes with the viewer because at the beging you feel bad for him and want him to find John G. and when you realize that most of this is in his head you realize that he is just reliving his trauma.

Drew E.

There isn't much equilibrium to speak of in this movie. If you were to try to look for it, I guess you could say that Leonard has no equilibrium when he wakes up in the morning, but as he goes throughout his day he starts to gain some of that equilibrium back as he relearns past events. It's not always a true equilibrium though, as we've seen other people try to trick him, and he'll even trick himself.

Connor Courtney

while Lenny has no equilibrium of where he is at, I as a viewer had a pretty good idea of where he was at all times. Sometimes they would start him out in a place I hadn't seen before, but it didn't take me long to figure out what was going on. As confusing as the concept of this movie is, they did a great job making it fairly easy to fallow

Mohammed Alsalman

I do not see equilibrium in the film. It seems to me like Leonard is searching to gain equilibrium but never reaching that point. He is aware that there is a disruption in his equilibrium, he cannot form new memories. It seems like he never stops searching and is stuck on trying to resolve the issue. I feel that Leonard is an unreliable narrator since he is manipulated by other characters and even manipulates himself and the facts and so he is always searching and never reaches equilibrium.

cullen manley

I would say, unlike most films, Leonard never really finds narrative equilibrium in the sense that he reaches a level of content with himself or happiness for where he is at in life. From the very beginning of the movie Leonard is on the hunt to avenge his wife's movie, never resting constantly awaking and trying to piece together the clues he has left behind. In this regard the movie is very action-oriented and at times even stressful because as an audience member with the way in which the movie was filmed as a "reverse narrative" you feel as confused and disoriented as the main character until the end when you realize that Leonard's inability to generate new memories has likely led him to the brink of insanity.

Kathleen Olmstead

I agree with Alexander in the fact that equilibrium is ever present or never present in Leonard's life. It almost makes the idea of equilibrium quite subjective when viewing the film, or even analyzing it from Leonard's point of view. I do think though if one was to take on Leonard's goal and central motivation that the equilibrium would constantly be in flux. His motive calls for him to have his bearings in situations, to be able to investigate this murder he believes happened, but partially because of his memory problem and partly because of his own methods, he is not able to achieve equilibrium.

Mallory C

I think there is a certain sense of equilibrium for Lenny throughout the movie. It may be that the two different times in his life must be regarded as different lives entirely. He's not the person he was when he had his memory. His life has changed entirely, so how can we consider Lenny's two persona's as one?
I think that the equilibrium in his first life was obviously disrupted when he lost his memory, and that never gets back to equilibrium because he becomes a new person.
In his new life, without memory, his equilibrium is disrupted when he finds John G and kills him, (the first and second time) and isn't fully satisfied because he forgets it and has to go on a new hunt in order to add meaning to his life. Without the hunt, there is nothing left for Leonard. Equilibrium is restored when he finds a new John G to look for.

Ben Finley

Here's what I think:
I don't think there ever was solid equilibrium in this film. There's tiny amounts of equilibrium in the certain tasks he's doing at certain moments but those are fleeting.
Leonard is supposed to be the protagonist, thats the way this is all set up. Tony Soprano is technically the protagonist in The Sopranos, but he's still a criminal. You end up rooting for Leonard just the same as you root for Tony trying to get rid of his wire taps. It never matters what our protagonist is doing (legal or moral), the story is still based around his plight.

Zack Brandsen

I completely agree with Ben.
Leonard is the central focus of the film and thus our protagonist and hero. I find that we are capable of shifting our own principles while we are audience members to better understand and accept the actions of the protagonist. The question is how far are we able and willing to alter our personal values to embrace a character. Throughout all of our histories as audience members we have loved thieves, drug dealers, and even murderers, but how far is too far?

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