Jump to content
Objectivism Online Forum

Memento

Rate this topic


mosespa
 Share

Recommended Posts

I'm curious to know what other Objectivists think of this movie.

To me, it represents certain Objectivist principles: The lead character is on a search to find the man who raped and murdered his wife. The problem is that he has a debilitating mental condition which prevents him from being able to make new memories since the attack. Unable to trust anyone's information, he has no one to rely on but himself...and even that has a certain questionablity to it due to his affliction.

Although this movie is certainly flawed from an Objectivist viewpoint, I think that it demonstrates a love of life in the protagonist (he only seeks to murder as retribution for his dead wife,) and shows how that love of life can be manipulated by second handers (in this case, the characters portrayed by Joe Pantoliano and Carrie-Ann Moss who use this character's unusual affliction for their own desires.)

This is one of my favorite movies of the last five years.

Anyone think it sucks? :(

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I enjoyed it, but I think it suffered from the endless repitition of the same things over and over. It reminded me of Fight Club a bit, actually, which I thought was okay, if not great.

I think it also made the point that, even if you know your mind isn't 100% reliable, you still have to rely upon it. If you don't believe your senses, then whose are you going to believe?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think it also made the point that, even if you know your mind isn't 100% reliable, you still have to rely upon it. If you don't believe your senses, then whose are you going to believe?
I took a very different sense. The main character chooses to believe something false. He intentionally and consciously decides to commit himself to a falsehood. That's what's ominous. I take this as a warning of the power of what we choose to believe.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I took a very different sense. The main character chooses to believe something false. He intentionally and consciously decides to commit himself to a falsehood. That's what's ominous. I take this as a warning of the power of what we choose to believe.

Indeed it is ominous. The moment one allows oneself to believe a falsehood, one risks breaching one's ability to differentiate true from false forever after.

However, given that he allows himself to believe this falsehood in order to right another wrong (that being of "Teddy" using him to kill people for profit,) wouldn't there still be a sense of "justice" rising from his willingness to accept a falsehood?

Objectivist principles hold that no good can from giving in to evil. Yet, by giving himself to a false belief, Leonard commits an (admittedly questionable) act of justice.

At least, that's how I see it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

SPOILER COMING SOON...DO NOT READ IF YOU HAVEN'T SEEN THE MOVIE

Indeed it is ominous. The moment one allows oneself to believe a falsehood, one risks breaching one's ability to differentiate true from false forever after.
I don't know that I would go that far. Also, the sense I got was that there is not just an epistemological danger but more importantly that the epistemological decision leads to the (im)moral decision. Or, more accuarately, the PARTICULAR epistemological decision he makes is TIED with a moral one. (I'm not claiming that you're precluding or overlooking that.)

However, given that he allows himself to believe this falsehood in order to right another wrong (that being of "Teddy" using him to kill people for profit,) wouldn't there still be a sense of "justice" rising from his willingness to accept a falsehood? Objectivist principles hold that no good can from giving in to evil. Yet, by giving himself to a false belief, Leonard commits an (admittedly questionable) act of justice.
SPOILER

It's a complicated movie, and I saw it long ago, so I might be quite incorrect, but the understanding I have is that Teddy is NOT the villian; that Teddy is legit and is not manipulating to make the main character a killer. The understanding I have is that, whatever really happened in the past, the main character has fabricated the narrative he has written on himself. This is revealed when he intentionally conflates the license plate numbers at the end of the movie (the beginning of the narrative that we're privy to). He knows that he's falsely implicating Teddy, but he does it anyway. Why? I think it's because the main character so very much feels a NEED to revenge (or to satisfy whatever obsession he has) that he's willing to settle for taking it out on a scapegoat. To me, this is a case study of what we witness when people are so intent on having their "cause" vindicated that they compromise or even virtually disregard facts and logic. But I have forgotten (some irony there, eh?) many of the details, so I'd have to see the movie again to be able to support in detail what I've said.

Edited by LauricAcid
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Have you recognized that at some point in the movie when he remembers Sammy Jenkins you see Sammy and then a person walks through the screen and then for a very short time you see Leonard instead of Sammy sitting there. The cut comes shortly after that. It's a nice little treat for people who have seen this movie way too often. :P

Link to comment
Share on other sites

SPOILER:

In the final act of the movie, just before Leonard decides to make Teddy his scapegoat, Teddy tells Leonard that they have been going from town to town finding "John G's" to kill.

Teddy paints himself as the mastermind of the scheme. At first he felt sorry for Leonard because he DID find the real killer...but couldn't remember it. So Teddy set up someone else, Leonard failed to remember that. Then (apparently,) Teddy began to see a way to make a little money on the side out of it.

After all, Teddy claims to be the cop assigned to Leonard's case. How could a cop travel from town to town with Leonard and still keep his job?

It has also been speculated that Teddy was actually the second intruder in Leonard's home that night...the one who got away. Perhaps he has been sticking close to Leonard to insure that Leonard never finds out who he actually is.

If this IS the case (and again, this is speculation...we don't really know WHO Teddy is other than the fact that he ends up being a "John G" himself,) then Leonard's actions, misguided though they may be, would actually end up being an action of justice...he just wouldn't know that.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Have you recognized that at some point in the movie when he remembers Sammy Jenkins you see Sammy and then a person walks through the screen and then for a very short time you see Leonard instead of Sammy sitting there. The cut comes shortly after that. It's a nice little treat for people who have seen this movie way too often. :P
Leonard is the main character, right? I forgot, who was Sammy?

And in a flashback scene at the hospital, we see that there's an ambiguity as to whether it's Leonard who is there or whether someone else. It seems that Leonard, who seems not just amnesiac but also nuts (and not just nuts do to his extreme condition), might have "transposed" or "projected" himself onto somebody else's circumstances. It seems to me that Leonard's anguishing guilt is not about having failed to save his wife, but that that is a cover story, a fabrication, to hide some more fundamental guilt or even a product of his pyschosis.

SPOILER:

In the final act of the movie, just before Leonard decides to make Teddy his scapegoat, Teddy tells Leonard that they have been going from town to town finding "John G's" to kill.

Teddy paints himself as the mastermind of the scheme. At first he felt sorry for Leonard because he DID find the real killer...but couldn't remember it. So Teddy set up someone else, Leonard failed to remember that. Then (apparently,) Teddy began to see a way to make a little money on the side out of it.

After all, Teddy claims to be the cop assigned to Leonard's case. How could a cop travel from town to town with Leonard and still keep his job?

I could be wrong, but it seems to me that there is a reversal in all of that so that it's not the true story. But I should see the movie again rather than commit myself to an incorrect understanding. Edited by LauricAcid
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 1 month later...
I took a very different sense. The main character chooses to believe something false. He intentionally and consciously decides to commit himself to a falsehood. That's what's ominous. I take this as a warning of the power of what we choose to believe.

And I got the exact OPPOSITE message. Here's a guy with little memory, and in one totally lucid moment, with only a short time to make a concrete action, he chooses the best course for his own self-interest, in the only way he can. Even without full faculties, he can and does retake control of his life from a controlling other, through force if necessary.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

And I got the exact OPPOSITE message.
My memory of the film is obviously shaky, so I'll just ask: When he jots down license plate numbers, doesn't he intentionally switch them, thus to implicate to himself the wrong person (then to drive to the tatoo parlor to make the error permanent in his own narrative)? Edited by LauricAcid
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Although this movie is certainly flawed from an Objectivist viewpoint, I think that it demonstrates a love of life in the protagonist (he only seeks to murder as retribution for his dead wife,) and shows how that love of life can be manipulated by second handers.

Anyone think it sucks? <_<

How could you say that Love of Life could be represented by a desire to murder out of vengeance??? I feel that such a premise goes against all of my morality and I don't accept it in the least. I thought someone else might comment on this too because, I mean, isn't objectivism supposed to represent a mintenance of one's life WITHOUT the expense or sacrifice of others?

Vengeance can never be justified. This is why I loved the movie Seven. It revealed our nature as humans, but ultimately also that we have a choice.

Free will is what has saved us all.

On a second not, I didn't think it "sucked" at all. I actually enjoyed it a great deal because it isn't like any other movie I have ever seen before and I really like how it was structured. I like that it is a movie that makes you think and that you have to pay close attention to for links and symbolisms.

Its been a really long time since I last saw it though.

-J.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 3 weeks later...

I refreshed my memory by reading several synopses and articles about the film.

So I grant that Teddy was a particularly scummy murderer. But I don't see how an Objecivist could find virtue in Leonard's decision to deceive himself that Teddy is John G. What Leonard did was to choose, with full, and even spoken aloud, moral comittment to what he knows to be a grave falsehood. And his purpose in doing that was not to right any wrongs but rather to leave himself a clearer field in which to continue his ritual of remembering, searching, and killing, as this ritual is what gives his life meaning, even as he himself calls it the "structure" of his life. Now that Teddy is gone, ANYONE can become Leonard's next John G. Whenever Leonard likes, all he has to do is jot some falsely implicatory note and then have it tatooed on himself so that he can repeat the ritual of "remembering", finding, and killing. And it seems to me that the auteur of the film is clear to draw Leonard as a very sick menace. At the end of the film, Leonard, in order to "test" the reality of the external world, closes his eyes for several seconds while he is driving. By so doing he puts his prerogative to be impetuous with life and death above the safety of anyone else, not to mention his own safety, and while pumping himself up about this "structure" for his life, which is the "structure" of being a self-decieving murderer. But most of all, at that once crucial moment with the license plate, he chooses to define his ethics, and it is the ethics of lying to oneself.

Edited by LauricAcid
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
×
×
  • Create New...