Christopher Nolan has made a career out of the malleability of morality, mind, and movie grammar, writ large on a bombastic scale. Before he became one of the 21st century’s foremost high-concept blockbuster auteurs—most recently celebrated for Best Picture-winner Oppenheimer—Nolan got his start directing a few taut, low-budget dramas including his breakthrough film, the flinty, clever neo-noir Memento (2000).  

Memento features the ultimate unreliable narrator: a man who suffers from both the inability to create new memories and a single-minded focus on revenge. Leonard Shelby (Guy Pearce) is in search of the man who attacked him and killed his wife one fateful night. He orchestrates his bleak mission with cues from photographs baring scrawled notes on the back. As for his unimpeachable facts, they are tattooed over his body. 

Nolan was inspired to make the film from a short story idea shared by his brother, Jonathan Nolan. What evolved from the initial inspiration is one of Nolan’s most thematically and aesthetically elegant non-linear narratives, creating a closed world of instability and uncertainty for the viewer and protagonist alike. Join us for a one-night seminar to unpack the storytelling techniques of this cinematic puzzle, place an early yet fully formed entry within a broader body of work, and explore Memento as a postmodern noir.

Are you interested in “just” seeing this movie? Visit the public screening page here.

Cinema Classics Seminars offer an entertaining and engaging way to learn more about some of the true classics of world cinema. All students receive an introductory lecture before the film and a guided discussion after the film. In addition, those in attendance receive a ticket to see it on the big screen, as well as popcorn and a drink. Please note: the screening associated with this seminar will be open to the public, as well.

Please email BMFI Programs and Education Coordinator Jill Malcolm with any questions.