Ihave here a message from Vasudha Gandhi of Queens Village, N.Y., about the movie "Memento": "Although I loved the film, I don't understand one key plot-point. If the last thing the main character remembers is his wife dying, then how does he remember that he has short-term memory loss?" Michael Cusumano of Philadelphia writes with the same query. They may have identified a hole big enough to drive the entire plot through. Perhaps a neurologist can provide a medical answer, but I prefer to believe that Leonard, the hero of the film, has a condition similar to Tom Hanks' "brain cloud" in "Joe vs. the Volcano"--Leonard suffers from a condition brought on by a screenplay that finds it necessary, and it's unkind of us to inquire too deeply.http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbc ... 30303/1023
When Lenny is remembering Sammy Jenkins, we find out that Lenny believed that Sammy's memory problem was just mental and that he could start forming new memories and it wasn't a physical problem.
Is Lenny lying to himself (not really, but subconsciously) that he has mental problems? That's why he is able to remember that?
And this is kinda enforced by the very last scene of the movie. Lenny has clearly been driving for a while, enough to have his memory restarted, and yet he sees a tattoo parlor and immediately stops at it without a note to remind himself.
Maybe I'm just grabbing at straws here to just ignore a plot hole.
If you take it as a given that Leonard has a classic case of anterograde amnesia, then it's a plot hole, but one that makes the movie's emotional core possible. National Geographic had an article about memory back in 2007 that I found really interesting. The reporter spent some time with someone with anterograde amnesia (aside from the famed H.M., the only other patient known to science is E.P. whose hippocampus was eaten by the herpes simplex virus) and he wasn't aware at all that he had a condition. He even looked down at his medical bracelet that said, "Memory loss" and went, "Hmm." Here's the text if you'd like to read it: http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2007/ ... /foer-text
Anyways, the most important thing is that Leonard is fixated on his wife's murder and has the wherewithal to do something about it
. If he didn't have the ability to train himself to take notes/Polaroids, he'd be stuck in the mental institution for the rest of his life reliving his wife's murder without having the means to do anything about it.
The NatGeo article makes it clear that you can still learn and "remember" motor skills, so the act of taking notes or Polaroids conceivably be trained into Leonard. But first he'd have to remember to do it.
Anyway, the condition obviously exists. Whether or not it could manifest in the way Leonard experienced it, is very hard to say, since we only have two recorded examples to go by. It's plausible, considering that the brain damage to H.M. and E.P. were very specific and took out the entire hippocampal region. There's nothing disproving that Leonard still had some function in those regions, making it possible for him to train himself into taking notes/Polaroids or at least recalling that he had a condition. We still don't know a lot of how the brain works.