Director: Christopher Nolan
Screenplay: Christopher Nolan (based on a novel by Jonathan Nolan)
Starring: Guy Pearce, Carrie-Anne Moss and Joe Pantoliano
Country: United States
Running Time: 113 min
Year: 2000

In my review for Following, I stated that ‘Everybody knows Christopher Nolan’ so I won’t spend too much time repeating myself here. He’s a one of a kind filmmaker that pleases most audiences and it’s no secret why they love him.

After the festival success of his debut feature Following (which I covered here), director Nolan began work on his follow-up feature that would wind up being considered one of the greatest films of all time by many, myself included, even being nominated for two Academy Awards. That film was Memento. 

Memento follows Leonard Shelby (Guy Pearce), a man with anterograde amnesia who’s unable to create new memories, who spends every waking moment trying to track down the man who killed his wife and brought on his condition. Leonard’s life is full of notes, such as the pieces of information he has in regards to the killer, such as their licence plate, physical attributes and a name to go by. When something is essential, it’s tattooed to Leonard’s body. 

In most cases, this would sound like a typical run-of-the-mill thriller but as is the case with Nolan, there’s something that differentiates it and it’s the non-linear fashion that the story is told in. The film operates with two different timelines that the film cuts between, with one being presented in black-and-white, and the other in colour. It’s a fantastic stylistic decision and while jarring at first, it really puts you into the shoes of Leonard, who’s unable to really keep track of how things are going in a traditional sense.

While the film’s subject matter can be intense, there’s a lot of moments of humour that really help make these characters feel genuine, such as the manager of the motel Leonard stays at renting him out two rooms without telling him. It’s a film full of personality, with excellent performances across the board and writing I actually really love. Nolan’s writing tends to be one of the weakest aspects of his films for me, but Memento is so tightly-written, thanks in part due to it being based on Christopher’s brother Jonathan’s short story Memento Mori, that I find myself captivated with every viewing.

There’s something about the attention to detail in this film that I love. After its initial theatrical release and DVD releases, Nolan released a “special edition” of the film which intentionally creates a continuity error involving a photograph for eagle-eyed viewers that wanted to poke holes in the film’s narrative. Even a change as little as that can add so much to a film where the protagonist has amnesia and struggles to remember the truth most of the time. Putting the audience in the shoes of him and second guessing themselves, wondering “was that an error or did I actually see that?”. It’s marvellous. 

For my money, Memento is the best film of Christopher Nolan’s career. It’s something that works on every level, with fantastic technical aspects and performances across the board, a story that captivates you from the very first moment, an experience that truly rewards the audience on repeat viewings and most importantly, delivers something that’s refreshingly memorable. While the concept of telling a film in reverse would later be used in films like Gaspar Noé’s Irreversible, Nolan’s Memento is something that’s hard to compete with almost twenty five years later. 

Film:

Memento releases on October 16th via 101 FIlms on Limited Edition Blu-ray as the 31st title in their Black Label collection. A first for the Black Label, Memento is presented with a steelbook and a bunch of physical goodies which are detailed below. In terms of A/V, it looks fantastic and the only thing that could really improve what’s here is a 4K presentation. There’s no word on whether or not this is a brand new transfer, or based on the scan used for prior Blu-ray discs but it looks incredible, nonetheless. English subtitles are included. The following extras are included:

  • SteelBook®
  • Rigid box packaging
  • Booklet one: Remembrance of things past: time and memory in Christopher Nolan’s Memento by James Mottram
  • Booklet two: Jonathan Nolan’s Memento Mori short story
  • Replica Polaroid art cards, printed notes and Ferdy’s beer mat enclosed in Leonard’s folder
  • Bonus second disc featuring the chronological edit (SD)
  • Remember – Actor Carrie-Anne Moss on Memento
  • Keepsake – Director Christopher Nolan on Memento
  • Memento Mori – Writer Jonathan Nolan on Memento
  • Memories – Producer Emma Thomas on Memento
  • A Leap into the Unknown – Producer Aaron Ryder on Memento
  • Musical Memories – Composer David Julyan on Memento
  • Commentary with film critics James Mottram and Sean Hogan
  • Memento chronological cut
  • Remembering Memento
  • Anatomy of a Scene
  • IFC Interview with Christopher Nolan
  • Director’s commentary

Audio commentary with director Christopher Nolan – An archival audio commentary from previous releases where Christopher Nolan that’s presented unlike any other commentary I’ve heard. From the first time we hear Nolan, it’s presented in reverse which was charming. Nolan details all aspects of the production, such as the choice for the black and white sequences to be the objective sequences, and the colour being the subjective ones. It’s a great listen and considering that Nolan doesn’t do many audio commentaries, it was a delight to finally hear one from him, even if it’s an archival one. 

Audio commentary with film critics James Mottram and Sean Hogan – This brand new audio commentary pairs Mottram (writer of The Making of Memento) and Hogan together to discuss the history of Memento, the metaphors established from the opening frame as well as the characteristics of Leonard, which I won’t get too deep into now to refrain from spoilers. It’s an informative, interesting audio commentary that’s worth a listen.

Keepsake – A brand new 20 minute interview with director Christopher Nolan, where he discusses the origins of Memento, which he began work on after Following. He talks about collaborating with his brother on the screenplay and lead actor Guy Pearce. Hearing Nolan talk about how the test screenings went was fascinating. Like his interview on 101’s release of Following, this is another delightful interview that I’d highly recommend. 

Memories – A brand new 16 minute interview with producer Emma Thomas, where she touches on the production of Memento and the differences from going to an independent project like Following to the larger scale project that Memento became. It’s another solid interview. 

A Leap into the Unknown – A brand new 24 minute interview with executive producer Aaron Ryder. Ryder talks about the films that inspired him to work in film, such as Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing and Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction. Ryder discusses how international film sales gained traction in the 90s, as well as how DVD sales could save a film that didn’t succeed at the box office. It’s a really insightful interview from somebody who’s worked in the industry and I’d highly recommend it.

Memento Mori – A brand new 34 minute interview with writer Jonathan Nolan, who discusses the conception of the short story Memento Mori and how he pitched the story to his brother Christopher Nolan to adapt into a feature. The subject of anterograde amnesia really fascinated Jonathan and details what he found so interesting in the interview. It’s another top-notch interview.

Remember – A brand new 18 minute interview with actor Carrie-Anne Moss. She details her love for films and wanting to be an actor at a young age. Moss talks about how The Matrix influenced her career and what led to her being cast in Memento. She speaks highly on Nolan and his direction and her story on reading the script for the first time is great. A great interview.

Musical Memories – A brand new 18 minute interview with composer David Julyan. He talks about reading early drafts of the screenplay and how happy he was just to be working with Nolan in any capacity. He discusses how he’d write pieces of score for specific scenes and Nolan would find other sequences that they suited more. The collaborative process between the two sounds incredibly interesting and it’s yet another solid interview. 

Unfortunately, I wasn’t provided with the physical extras or the second disc that includes the chronological cut of the film, Remembering Memento, Anatomy of a Scene and the IFC interview with Nolan.

101 Films have done a tremendous job with their release of Memento. As stated earlier, I wish it was a 4K UHD release, which would have made it absolutely perfect in my eyes. A great selection of new interviews, an insightful commentary, a great transfer and from the looks of things, an incredible array of physical goodies included, any fan of Nolan or Memento will surely be pleased with this release.

Disc/Packaging:

Where to watch Memento
Memento - 101 FIlms
Film
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Physical media collector with a questionable taste in film.

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