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  • Hooman Razavi

OtnemeM - Crisis In Time-Space Cinematic

By: Hooman Razavi

In the end, millennial directors and those who enjoy creating experimental films can take lessons and elevate Nolan's idea. They could conceive of plots, mini-plots, and anti-plots that combine flashbacks, flash-forward, colour, dialogues, narration techniques, and rhythm in a more creative way? What would the next chapters entail in the history of experimental filmmaking.

Nolan's shrewd marriage of form and content is predicted on how he has envisioned and integrated the element of time. Time-space in anti-plot films is non-linear, but it seems in Memento, through the black/white and colour scenes, time runs in complex linear and non-linear fashion. Arguably, what Nolan could have implied artistically is that image and sound could be secondary compared to the element of time in film-image construction. Time can stand on its own and drive the narrative and plot to un chartered territory. Further, the element of repetition in visual and performative support film goal does not allow film-time to be seen chronically. These aspects also can connect to the whole theme of memory loss and fragile conception of selfhood. Leonard is aware of the loss, wants to get his memory back, and attempts to retrieve it. The symbolism of tattoo, writing, and instant-pictures indicates that he may struggle, but he would finally get over his dementia, but his context, film final twist, and implicit admission closes that possibility. Admittedly, through Memento, Nolan meditates on the nature of memory, imagination, and context and how these interwoven characteristics, seen both subjectively or objectively, can never fully capture the underlying reality. His experiments with cinematic language are profound on a philosophical level. In a sense, he questions the objectivity of truth and subjective understanding of it through the medium of art and manipulation of cinematic elements. Has he achieved those goals? The answer could be subjective, but cult-like popularity among critics and the film's general audience is testimony to this question.

Nolan's other features, as Inception (2010) and Insomnia (2002) explored similar themes but in less radical styles. The reason that Memento is intriguing, dazzling, and cinematic par-excellence is that it plays with cinematic elements, mainly Time to disorient AND empower the viewer. Throughout the whole film, one may struggle to associate with how Leonard objectivize and understands his reality. The tension built up and sustained through flashbacks, time disjunctions, non-harmonious music, slow-paced editing, complexity, and incomprehensibility of plot and narration. These features are high voltage jolts in viewers' minds who may understand a subplot, why the main protagonists act in a certain way, and some semblance of chronology, but they are admittedly left in the dark to speculate as whose reality is authentic and whose point of view it can trust.

Christopher Nolan's turn of Century Classic Memento (2000) gathers a vast international fan base. Many deservedly called it a genius and avant-garde. It won numerous awards (57), many nominations (56), and rising popularity. One can pause and ask why it has generated and revered by those who are looking for originality in Cinema? Is this film merely a thriller mystery film with interspersed elements of crime and murder, or is it on a deeper level a shining example of an experimental film? What makes it unique, and why? In an interview, Nolan provided some hints " You can watch the opening scene and get the whole movie." This admission is no exaggeration as film buff recalls the Polaroid photo scene and how the manipulation of time is craftily embedded.

Grade: A+


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