Leonard Shelby: Guy Pearce
Natalie: Carrie-Ann Moss
Teddy: Joe Pantoliano
Writer-Director: Christopher Nolan
GROUP DISCUSSION QUESTIONS
A) Tell the story of what happens in this film, using traditional third-person narrative.
B) In what ways does this movie conform to traditional narrative structure?
C) In what ways does it seem to defy traditional narrative structure?
D) How do the black-and-white sequences function to advance the narrative?
Are they consistent with the narrative point of view we see in the rest of the film?
E) Do you consider the film’s narrative techniques to be just gimmicks, or do they bring a
meaningful dimension to the film? Explain.
A) Describe the main character Leonard Shelby in appearance and character.
How is Leonard’s appearance important to his character?
B) Describe your first impressions of Natalie and compare them to your
impressions of her at the end of the film.
How is Natalie’s appearance important to her character?
C) Describe your first impressions of Teddy and compare them to your
impressions of him at the end of the film.
D) How does Leonard, with his condition, assemble meaning in his life?
How does he use his long-term memory to his emotional advantage?
How does he use his short-term memory condition to his emotional advantage?
We know his “friends” use his condition to manipulate him. In what way does he use his own
condition to manipulate himself?
E) Leonard continuously refers to a man he was investigating who had the same condition that he
now has. Who is this man? How does this character function to illuminate Leonard’s
3) FOCUS ON LEONARD’S CHARACTER
We discussed conventions of Greek tragedy.
Does Leonard have a tragic flaw (i.e., a flaw that manifests itself as his destiny, given
his circumstances?) Explain. How is Leonard like Oedipus Rex? How is he different?
Is Leonard a tragic figure in the classic sense of the term? Explain why or why not.
Could he be considered a postmodern tragic figure? Explain why or why not.
4) KEY VISUAL ELEMENTS
A) How does the narrator use Polaroids and notes in this movie during his “investigation?”
Identify and describe the photographic images Leonard creates.
What do these images say about his stream of consciousness?
B) Why does the narrator tattoo himself? How does he select the information he tattoos?
C) Why doesn’t he take extensive notes to keep track of his experiences?
D) What statements do you think the film is making about the nature of “facts” and “reality?”
5) UNIVERSAL THEMES
A) With your group, brainstorm a list of universal themes you believe this film explores.
What statements do you think this film is making about life in a postmodern world?
(You might consider both the film itself and your experience as a viewer watching it.)
B) Select one of the themes you brainstormed and explain it, providing specific
examples from the film.
6) SONTAG AND MORAL POINT OF VIEW
Susan Sontag suggests that photographs can become morally meaningful in a historic context.
In Memento, we see a gruesome photo at the beginning and at the end. The narrator cannot
remember the historic context of the photograph we see at the beginning of the film, and at the end
of the film, we know he will soon forget his epiphany. How does Leonard’s “condition” change the
moral standards by which we might judge him? In the end, to what extent is he morally responsible
for his actions? To what extent is he not morally responsible? Explain.