Christopher Nolan's "Memento" - unraveling of the movie

Author of the article: Tatiana Zhakova
Journalist, linguist, teacher of storytelling with 10 years of experience
In 2015, she created and promoted her project about Nizhny Novgorod, after which she created the author's course "Storytelling: How to Tell Your Story" on its basis. More than 4,000 students have taken the course.

A linguist by training, she is very quick to master new fields. Now she is actively studying screenwriting and storytelling in films/series, about which she writes in the blog of her project.
In the world of cinema, there are puzzle movies that not only leave an unforgettable mark on our minds and hearts, but also keep us puzzled throughout the entire narrative. One such movie is Christopher Nolan's "Remember", which takes us on an epic journey into the depths of the human psyche and raises the overwhelming question: what is true reality?
The plot centers on Leonard, who suffers from anterograde amnesia, which is essentially a lack of long-term memory. He only remembers what happened in the last 15 minutes. And in order to somehow stay in this world, he uses a system of notes, photos and tattoos, leaving himself messages from the past.

With their help he hopes to find the killer of his wife.

The main feature of the movie is its non-linear narrative. We have two time lines:

The first one moves in reverse order, as if on rewind, from the conf to the beginning. And the action develops 15 minutes at a time - exactly how the character's memory works.

The second line is Lenard's black and white conversation on the phone. It is already linear, and at some point these two lines, going to each other, meet and merge.

"Remember" goes beyond the simple development of a mystical detective story. It asks important questions about the nature of memory and identity. Christopher Nolan explores the theme of illusions and distortions that arise in the process of remembering.

The film emphasizes that memory is not an immutable truth, but rather a subjective perception and interpretation of the past.

The main tropes of the movie:


A trope is an artistic technique in storytelling. It is a combination of several factors that form a character/appearance. And that character is something we encounter in different movies/books/series.

Our brain identifies that there is something in common, but unless we know for sure the name of the trope and its characteristics, we are unlikely to be able to explain it

  • 1
    Nonlinear structure:
    One of the most distinctive aspects of Remember is its non-linear structure. The movie switches between different time planes, mixing past, present and future to reveal the story of the protagonist. This technique allows the viewer to feel as lost and confused as Lenard himself, and creates an impression of constant uncertainty.
  • 2
    "Remember" begins and ends with the same scene - Lenard looking in the mirror and talking about his quest to find his wife's killer. It is a framed story that invests the main storyline and gives the impression of a closed circle. The frame structure reinforces the sense of mystery and enigma surrounding Lenard's story.
  • 3
    The movie uses flashbacks to show the main character's past and reveal his personality. Flashbacks provide insight into the events that led to Lenard's amnesia and allow the viewer to understand his motivations and actions. However, just as with Lenard, we cannot be sure of the authenticity of these memories, which gives the movie an added level of mystery.
  • 4
    Plot twists / Wham moments:
    "Remember" is famous for its unexpected plot twists that turn the perception of what is happening inside out. Each new revelation changes our understanding of events and turns everything upside down. This gives the audience the opportunity to actively speculate and guess what will happen next, engaging them in exploring the mysterious world of Lenard.

Так что же на самом-то деле произошло в конце?

In the last scene, Lenard Shelby reveals his motivation and his identity.

We realize that not only is he actually to blame for his wife's death, since there was no story with the insulin and the other family, but actually all of these clues to finding the killer are also planted by him on his own.

He admits that his search for his wife's killer and his thirst for revenge was driven not only by a desire to find justice, but also by a need to finally create meaning in his life. Leonard admits that he has become a "monster," using his amnesia as an excuse for his actions and to "stay true to himself."

Lenard tells the story of his wife, who was as complicated as he was. His memories of her are probably heavily distorted, and he admits that he may have deliberately created the image of a "victim" to further his quest and his thirst for revenge.

In the final scene, Leonard makes an important statement, "You are what you do. Everything else is just words." This statement emphasizes the underlying theme of the film - that we define our identity not only based on our memories or events from the past, but also on how we act and what we do in the present.

The ending of the movie "Remember" leaves questions as to whether the main character and his story can be trusted, and what role his subconscious played in shaping his reality. The film provokes thoughts about how often we create images of ourselves and how our behavior determines who we really are.
Christopher Nolan's "Remember" is a journey into a world of mystery and illusion where the boundaries between reality and fiction are blurred. The non-linear structure, framing story, flashbacks, plot twists and the motif of time and memory all make up a clever storytelling device that makes the movie unique and unforgettable. "Remember" is a cinematic art form that will leave audiences utterly enthralled and make them ponder the depth of the human mind and its quest to find the truth.