chapter  4
Setting the conditions for forgetting: Memento
Pages 11

Christopher Nolan’s earlier feature, the black and white film-noir thriller Following (1998), and the blockbuster Batman Begins (2005) demonstrate an ongoing interest in the anxieties attached to identity, anonymity and the way that time fragments in the process of recalling the past. Unlike Mulholland Drive’s conjuring of the unconscious through a juggling of time and space, Nolan’s Memento (2000) attempts to capture the way that memories are distilled from the personal unconscious by retracing interlinked events through a more ‘forward-reverse’ linear framework. The film steers clear of saturating its flawed hero Leonard Shelby (Guy Pearce) in surreal unconscious imagery, but manages to probe the conscious/unconscious margins of his agitated existence through a shrewdly crafted play on the concepts of forgetting and disavowal. Nolan’s backward sequencing of scenes shapes a puzzle decipherable only after reaching the beginning of the narrative rather than the end. This kind of regression, while cleverly evoking a sense of remembering, also reflects the internal trickster’s capacity to simultaneously suck us back to the recesses of the psyche while pushing us toward conflict and understanding.