An interesting observation in the Post-Film Writing this week is that camera distance in Memento is almost exclusively in the medium to close range. Did you notice this, too? What do you think this choice means?
In the Post-Film Writing this week one question I wanted to open up was the use of color, and specifically the choice to signify the past, in narrative terms, with black and white, but to show Leonard's memories of his wife in color. What do you think this means?
A common topic in the Post-Film Writing this week is the use of props (objects) to mark time, space and memory in the film. What were the most important objects to you as a viewer in attempting to make connections in time and space while watching Memento? Did this change between viewings?
As you think ahead to the second iteration of the Comparative Essay, what are your initial thoughts on how to compare Eternal Sunshine, Vertigo and Memento in terms of the representation of time, space and memory?
Continue the discussion of Memento in comments here.
Here are topics distilled from my notes, and the Post-Film Writing and discussion:
- The opening.
- Use of props, hair and makeup (for Leonard's character, as markers of time and memory).
- Action and performance (especially Guy Pearce).
- Scenes that show how Leonard's condition affects him (e.g., in the Diner, with the conflicting photos).
- Color (as signifier of time and memory and mood).
- Narrative, or, the order in which we see what happens.
Some questions that are raised by the film are how do we know what we know, what role does memory play in who we are and what the world means to us, and why are remembering and forgetting both important.
I also think we could talk about the use of voiceover throughout the film and how that affects what we see.
If you have quick reactions or thoughts on Memento, share those here.
Chapter 1 of Edgar-Hunt provides a brief introduction to auteur theory (see page 16). Within this framework, the director is seen to be the "author" of a film (or should be seen as the author). And as authors, the works of different directors can be distinguished by recurring elements or devices, which may be narrative or visual or in the use of sound (as with Robert Altman, see page 168), any point where a specific choice has to be made about what and how to make a film where those choices can be seen as indicative of a director's body of work.
Memento and Inception were both directed by Christopher Nolan. What markers of his "auteurship" can you find in those films? One interpretation of auteur theory is that only certain directors rise to the level of "author" (this view is implied by the text). Do Memento and Inception work to qualify Nolan as an "auteurist" director? Feel free to discuss his other films, too.
To practice semiotics, choose one sign that the film makers in either case use to show how Leonard or Chris orient themselves in time and space. Break that sign down into its main components, signifier and signified, or take your analysis even further by discussing the sign in terms of its denotative and connotative meanings and/or what kind of sign it is - metaphorical, metonymic, synecdochical.
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?