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Publisher Description

In Christopher Nolan's Memento (2001), a man named Leonard seeks to discover the identity of a man who raped and killed his wife and then to enact vengeance on him. Complicating this search is the fact that the trauma of the rape and murder of his wife has left Leonard with no short-term memory. Thus, this "detective" is not only constantly attempting to piece together the facts surrounding his wife's death, but he is also constantly puzzling out where he is, why he is there, and who he is every few minutes. In order to help himself recall what he is doing, Leonard takes photographs of people and places, jotting down notes about them on the photos, including what their names are, why he is talking to them, and other impressions he has of them. The facts are perpetually consulted, reevaluated, and interpreted, as are the facts concerning the larger mystery that Leonard is attempting to solve, In essence, this film becomes a perfect postmodern "setting" in which evidence and perceptions of that evidence are constantly evaluated to reconstruct a sense of what has actually happened, or, put another way, it is about reconstructing the events and causes of a man's personal history. The film opens with the chronological ending of the movie, literally in rewind, as we watch the Polaroid photograph of a dead man being shaken by Leonard, not beginning to appear, as would normally be the case with a Polaroid photo, but to disappear into nothing. The narrative then proceeds backwards to the chronological beginning of Leonard's story. This move places the viewer of the film in the same position as Leonard, witnessing the present while having to attempt to reconstruct the events that have led up to this initial moment in the film through the same clues and cues Leonard has. The suggestion, given this perspective (that a parallel experience and perspective is experienced by the protagonist and the viewer in reconstructing the film's narrative) to the viewers is that they are like Leonard, constantly interpreting and making assumptions based on scattered pieces of evidence and awash in a world lacking clearly identifiable causes and meanings. This psychological landscape serves to illustrate an underlying nihilism in postmodern thought through a series of ideas heavily associated with current postmodern thinking, including historical revisionism, the potential for producing new histories through such revision, and the creation of self and identity in a postmodern environment. Thus, I believe it can readily serve as a vehicle for presenting a number of observations about the larger cultural, philosophical, and ethical issues involved in the evolution of postmodernist thought and that thought's relationship to nihilism.

Business & Personal Finance
September 22
Post Script, Inc.
The Gale Group, Inc., a Delaware corporation and an affiliate of Cengage Learning, Inc.

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