Psychology and the Cinema
Analyze narrative in Memento making use of the materials on Blackboard and in class. You may also find the recommended article The Plot of Memento in Chronological Order of use as well.
– Contrast the terms linear narrative structure and non-linear narrative structure and explain which is predominant in Memento. Describe the narrative structure (how the scenes were arranged) of Memento.
– How does the narrative structure of Memento relate to the viewer’s understanding of Lenny’s condition? What aspects of the narrative do not parallel Lenny’s experience?
– Describe the beginning, middle (turning point), and end of the (chronological) story in Memento and the cues the filmmaker used to help the viewer identify these since they were not presented in a linear fashion.
– Explain how the use of both restrictive narration and of the reverse chronological narrative structure in Memento creates a sense of mystery for the viewer.
Describe and relate the following concepts from the Sparknotes: Memory Processes article to Memento:
– Define the terms encoding, storage, and retrieval and explain which aspects of these three processes are working normally and not normally in Lenny. Where in these three process does his problem mainly lie?
– Lenny says he has a short-term memory problem. Define short-term memory, working memory, and long-term memory and explain why his problem isn’t really short-term memory per se. What is the real problem and which aspects of his long-term memory are affected and which are not affected?
Describe and relate the following concepts from the Living in the Moment: The Strange Case of Henry M. & Anterograde Amnesia article to Memento:
– Contrast the terms retrograde amnesia and anterograde amnesia and explain which one Lenny has.
– What part of Lenny’s brain was probably damaged in the assault that produced his condition? Use information from the article to explain your answer.
– Describe which aspects of Henry M.’s case and the description of anterograde amnesia fit Lenny’s experience, and include specific examples from the film
– Describe which aspects of Henry M.’s case and the description of anterograde amnesia DO NOT fit Lenny’s experience, and include specific examples from the film
Comment on some other issues:
– Memento also involves the psychology of identity and selfconcept. In your opinion, how do memories influence identity and our interactions with others? Illustrate with examples from the film. Is there something to who we are that is separate from our memories? In Memento, Teddy tells Lenny that Leonard Shelby is “who you used to be, not what you’ve become.” Who is “Lenny?” his ideas of Leonard Shelby who doesn’t remember the awful things he’s done, or the guy who is doing these awful things?
– A common question and criticism of Memento has to do with how it is possible for Lenny to know he has a memory condition. How might you explain it?
– What aspects of the film do you find confusing or inconsistent?
Michael Caruso (2007) Psychology and the Cinema