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The famous 2000 film that put Christopher Nolan on the map tells the story of a man on the hunt for the man he thinks killed his wife.

Timeline based on an all too in depth period of Analysis

Posts: 179
We all have our own views and I in no way think my view is the end all be all, I just ask people give my timeline a chance, because I've put a lot of thought into this.

I'll expand my views and the depth of my explanations and clues with time but for now I'll just plot out the guideline in a way that explains the back-story as I see it.

February 1997: An intruder assaults and rapes Leonard's wife, Leonard can hear something and tries to interrupt it, but he is incapable of keeping his wife from getting violated, there is a scuffle as explained on the website as opposed to Leonard shooting the man in the head, and that man is fatally wounded. Leonard is explained as having contusions but not be in a come or deep concussion as far as the article states, in addition while in critical condition his wife is not yet in a coma, as she is never said to be unresponsive. The shot we see at the end of Leonard's narration of the event is not this moment, in that moment his wife is out and Leonard is at a completely impossible angle for having been rammed into the mirror, he actually seems to have fallen forward if anything, but certainly head first, parallel to his wife.) Leonard is left with damage but the inability to create new memories still seems to be entirely gone, at this point Leonard is subconsciously choosing to not register new memories because he does not want to accept his wife's rape and assault and his inability to protect her.

November 1997: Leonard's wife is fed up, she's tried everything to get him to snap out of it and even used him to pay the bills that his insurance never recovered, but nothing will work. Finally she believes that if his mind has shut off out of his love for her, that love will also snap him out. She does the insulin segment, Leonard doesn't stop and his wife goes into a coma. Leonard is devestated confused and scared, he can't cope with what he's done, the trauma is so great that Leonard uses his disorder to save himself from this incredible trauma. He recreates the very same rape scene, making a deal with a cop whom is familiar with his case that a drug dealer can be fooled into enering the scene so he can bash Leonard and give Leonard his trauma injury to base his perspective off of, and then Teddy the cop proceeds to shoot that man perfectly in the head (a nice gun and a perfect shot from an insurance salesmen? That never seemed right) leaving a crime scene identitical in result to the one 9 months ago that set all of this in motion, difference being his wife is in a coma this time and he falls forward in a concussion, this is the image Leonard gives us. Leonard, capable as we see at the end of the movie of striking depravity in small doses in order to make possible an image of his life going forward that he is choosing, by and large spent this whole period post the insulin trick consciously aware of his actions.
He successfully sets up such identical images and sensations that he has fooled himself that it's all one event, meaning his wife was raped and killed by John G. and Leonard is in no way responsible, in other words Leonard had a psychotic break all in service of not having to accept what he did to his wife. He creates the persona of Sammy Jenkis to assume the mementos and memories of the last 9 months so he can remember the lessons learned and it's relevance to how to interact going forward while still not having to cope with murdering his wife.

Leonard finishes his need for the Sammy character, explaining that he was admitted to an insane asylum and completely unaware of what he did to his wife, and with that bringing Sammy to a close, Sammy's image turns back into Leonard right when Leonard's own story supports being in the asylum himself.

In what is largely covered in Memento Mori but also is supported by the internet clues, Leonard spends the next 9 months building a system in which he both, through notes, guides himself but also periodically pushes certain false truths through, all without needing to regain his memory to the point that he has to face his actions or be faced with the inevitability of being burdened with it living a full life. He doesn't remember and he has just enough memory to push his day forward in bits without the fear of being faced with the truth and never being able to forget it. In other words, Leonard has figured out how to guide his psychotic break to a sustainable dilusion.

I don't have it in me to keep going all the way through right now because it will be so dense and lengthy, so I'll see how people respond to this backstory first.

I believe that the film we see is not in fact backwards but starts when Leonard kills Teddy for threatening to make him face the truth, he develops this photo and precedes to carefully and diligently create a story, by connecting his sparatic mementos and photos, that can justify the murder he just committed while also allowing Leonard to actively seek a new goal. He strings together a story that makes everything that he just did and heard from Teddy the justified result of his own setting himself up with Teddy as an eventual end. He sees his escalating body count and painful images and feelings into a justified system of giving himself John G's to go avenge his wife from, allowing himself to set it all up again before starting over and maintaining a psychotic sense of reality that still leaves him a victim avenging his wife on some level (remember Leonard says my wife wasn't diabetic and his memory switches back to a pinch, there's nothing to hint that he accepted that truth, only that he's killed before).

I believe Christopher Nolan has achieved one of the most impressive feats in the history of film and most don't ever know he did it, he made engaging empathetic and sympathetic the process of a man having a psychotic break and going backwards to create a dillusion for himself. Chris Nolan made psychopathy sympathetic and universal in it's core truth...

Long live the king!
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All I can say is:WOW :clap:
Posts: 4041
The first part of the post is exactly how I see it, Iv spend so much time convincing people on this board to believe that Leonard is actually Sammy. Even after a few views and one visit to the otnemem.com I can't see how anybody could argue against this. Nolan has even put in small hints for us to find in the actual frames of the film, as it is seen in the scene at the hospital (which Iv mentioned countless times) where the doctor walks by, and in the next few frames its actually Leonard sitting in the chair instead of Sammy.

The next part where you talk about how its actually forward I don't really understand to be honest. The paradox/genius of the film is exactly that the composition of the scenes doesn't matter. The fractured scenes is used actively to express the mind of Leonard. And too express that Leonards mind does what ever it can to have a goal. Without this Kill John G goal, Leonards life doesn't have a purpose. A very nihilistic point of view actually - to create your own reality (a theme that is repeating it self in the other works of Chris Nolan)
Leonard last lines backs this up:
Leonard Shelby: I have to believe in a world outside my own mind. I have to believe that my actions still have meaning, even if I can't remember them. I have to believe that when my eyes are closed, the world's still there. Do I believe the world's still there? Is it still out there?... Yeah. We all need mirrors to remind ourselves who we are. I'm no different.


Sorry if I didn't quite understand what you meant with the last part of your post :)
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Location: La La Land
Spark Notes version anyone?
Posts: 7305
Location: London town, UK
^ :ugeek:

Thats what i got from it... the Sammy story is actually part of leonard's story after the accident... whereas the real sammy is a faker etc etc

Man, its such a top notch film.
Posts: 179
Look at the 3 images that play at 1:43:22, when Teddy tells Leonard that his wide had diabetes. One is of his wife in the plastic wrapping clearly alive. The next is of her starting in the wrapping but then it gets taken off, watch closely and it seems to be in reverse. The final is of his wife outside the wrapping and it is impossible to tell if she is awake or not. Thoughts?
Posts: 179
Jonas Agersø wrote:The first part of the post is exactly how I see it, Iv spend so much time convincing people on this board to believe that Leonard is actually Sammy. Even after a few views and one visit to the otnemem.com I can't see how anybody could argue against this. Nolan has even put in small hints for us to find in the actual frames of the film, as it is seen in the scene at the hospital (which Iv mentioned countless times) where the doctor walks by, and in the next few frames its actually Leonard sitting in the chair instead of Sammy.

The next part where you talk about how its actually forward I don't really understand to be honest. The paradox/genius of the film is exactly that the composition of the scenes doesn't matter. The fractured scenes is used actively to express the mind of Leonard. And too express that Leonard's mind does what ever it can to have a goal. Without this Kill John G goal, Leonard's life doesn't have a purpose. A very nihilistic point of view actually - to create your own reality (a theme that is repeating it self in the other works of Chris Nolan)
Leonard last lines backs this up:
Leonard Shelby: I have to believe in a world outside my own mind. I have to believe that my actions still have meaning, even if I can't remember them. I have to believe that when my eyes are closed, the world's still there. Do I believe the world's still there? Is it still out there?... Yeah. We all need mirrors to remind ourselves who we are. I'm no different.


Sorry if I didn't quite understand what you meant with the last part of your post :)


No worries, we're by and large agreeing, my belief is simply that the film represents Leonard actively creating his own reality, that's all. So he weaves a story together so he can justify the picture of the dead body he has in his own hand by connecting his various memories or images and sounds into a new reality that will allow him to keep his mission and to start over again. We're agreeing on the soul of the film whether or not you precisely agree with or understand the way I see things literally playing out.
Posts: 123
choosing to not register new memories



I must say, that goes against everything in the film and In MORI.
I can write a detailed analysis later.

You seem to have a lot of confusion about Leonard's wife, especially re-creating the crime scene.
Posts: 264
firstly, some general knowledge:
Anterograde amnesia effects declarative memory which in turn has 2 major sub-divisions
semantic (factual) and episodic (context specific/autobiographical)...

i can say that, it is obvious that Sammy Jankis is a fictitious construct meant to protect Leonard from his own
subconscious guilt (of him having killed his wife)..

but i follow up by saying that it doesn't add up.. even if we accept that Leonard has indeed fabricated an identity that serves to shield him from reality we can't really ignore that his story is filled with his personal episodic recollections..
"episodic memory is the memory of autobiographical events" (wiki)... considering that Leonard tells his own story from
an impersonal point of view (through Jankis), we the audience receive a mini biography of Jankis' experience with anterograde amnesia (which is meant to be an AUTObiography of Leonard himself).. such a recollection isn't even possible as patients with anterograde amnesia can't form episodic/autobiographical memories after brain injury..

to sum up..
Leonard can obviously recall that his wife is a diabetic.. but i cannot fathom how an Anterograde amnesia patient is able to recall an entire episode (with some emotional and temporal context)

i can even accept that Leonard connects the dots and constructs all sorts of false scenarios to guise the truth so everything makes sense..
but i still can't understand how he can remember that his wife tested his condition.. he can't even store these episodes in his memory to begin with..
Posts: 179
Viral114 wrote:firstly, some general knowledge:
Anterograde amnesia effects declarative memory which in turn has 2 major sub-divisions
semantic (factual) and episodic (context specific/autobiographical)...

i can say that, it is obvious that Sammy Jankis is a fictitious construct meant to protect Leonard from his own
subconscious guilt (of him having killed his wife)..

but i follow up by saying that it doesn't add up.. even if we accept that Leonard has indeed fabricated an identity that serves to shield him from reality we can't really ignore that his story is filled with his personal episodic recollections..
"episodic memory is the memory of autobiographical events" (wiki)... considering that Leonard tells his own story from
an impersonal point of view (through Jankis), we the audience receive a mini biography of Jankis' experience with anterograde amnesia (which is meant to be an AUTObiography of Leonard himself).. such a recollection isn't even possible as patients with anterograde amnesia can't form episodic/autobiographical memories after brain injury..

to sum up..
Leonard can obviously recall that his wife is a diabetic.. but i cannot fathom how an Anterograde amnesia patient is able to recall an entire episode (with some emotional and temporal context)

i can even accept that Leonard connects the dots and constructs all sorts of false scenarios to guise the truth so everything makes sense..
but i still can't understand how he can remember that his wife tested his condition.. he can't even store these episodes in his memory to begin with..


"Repressed memory refers to the inability to recall information, usually about stressful or traumatic events in persons' lives, such as a violent attack or rape. The memory is stored in long term memory, but access to it is impaired because of psychological defense mechanisms. Persons retain the capacity to learn new information and there may be some later partial or complete recovery of memory. This contrasts with e.g. anterograde amnesia caused by amnestics such as benzodiazepines or alcohol, where an experience was prevented from being transferred from temporary to permanent memory storage: it will never be recovered, because it was never stored in the first place. Formerly known as "Psychogenic Amnesia"."

"Functional causes are psychological factors, such as mental disorder, post-traumatic stress or, in psychoanalytic terms, defense mechanisms.".

The belief is that Leonard's condition is not that simple, based on several hints Nolan gives us that his condition is as mental as it is physical.

Perhaps the single most important one is when Natalie tries to burn a Polaroid of a victim, and while panicking Leonard instinctually answers "you have to burn them". He says this as if he has a clear memory of this from when he burned pictures of other victims, and this would mean his memory works in the case that a memory is required in order to allow the delusion. This would be psychopathy, selective memory to a psychopathic extent.

Perhaps even scarier is when Teddy tells Leonard that he killed his wife, Leonard seems speechless as he is rushed with images of his wife being alive and the tarp either coming off or being put on, then comes the big one, him giving his wife insulin. We then see Leonard defend himself from this memory by saying his wife wasn't diabetic, he then replays the last memory but now he lies to himself, showing himself the manipulated memory of him pinching her so that he doesn't remember her being diabetic, from this second on we never come back to the issue, although we see Leonard continue to act in a manner just aware and focused enough to maintain his lifestyle and delusion.

These two moments represent for one Leonard's ability to "condition" himself to remember whatever he must, an ability that undermines Leonard's own representation of the disease when he tells Sammi's story. So why would he go on about the inability to be conditioned when the doctors tested him if this story exists to comfort Leonard? So Leonard tells himself and others that he can't do what he does daily.

But that's not as bad as the second implication, that Leonard is actively capable of purposely manipulating the memory of his wife in order to comfort himself. In a story meant to be a riddle box where the proposed narrative is said to be in no way absolutely true or without mental manipulation, Nolan choosing to show us that Leonard can and will actively misremember his wife to comfort himself without regard to the truth is a MASSIVE clue that there is no end to which we can be sure Leonard is doing this.

Leonard's short term memory is supposed to be consistent and physical, so what's with the last scene? It's bullshit, that's what. Leonard keeps his conscious coherent for exponentially longer then he has in the film, and I don't buy a physical disorder that actively negates the survival instinct was reacting to the situation, Leonard was keeping track as long as he needed to in order to sustain his life without going back to a mental hospital or admitting to himself what he did. Even after he successfully sets himself up for the future, he keeps several minutes more of conscious linear thinking in order to get time to reassure himself he's doing the right thing and is only doing what is human in his circumstance, climaxing with him closing his eyes to the "I did it" memory so that his wife can feel vengeance before he has to strip her of it in his mind by starting over, then he comes to a screeching stop when he sees his first stop on his brand new journey, and...

"Where was I" literally the second he's ready to start over, he finally forgets his longest string of short term memories.

Leonard said it himself, he lies to himself to make himself happy, as we all do. To think he only does this rarely when he needs to start over is naive, he does it whenever it's necessary for his journey to continue.

He is a complete and utter psychopath born of a traumatic memory he was desperate to repress. Our mind is capable of unbelievable things to defend itself from the truth, that's what this film is about, a dramatic example of all our use of selective memory so that we can only assign value to mementos that support the mini lies we tell ourselves, but again on a massive scale. The massive form of selective memory is psychopathy, and the end reeks of Leonard choosing it more then being forced with it just Like Teddy in Shutter's Island, who asks the wonderful question "would you rather die a good man or live a monster?" an indication that somewhere within his insanity he made a sane choice to be insane.

So did Leonard.
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