Not long ago, AMBI Pictures announced that they will be financing and producing a remake of Christopher Nolan’s gripping thriller, Memento. Ever since the news came out, a string of articles and pronounced suspicion have enmeshed readers.
The reason behind the ubiquitous disapproval towards the remake steadily renders itself discerned, as the motives to engage in the production of a genuine caliber movie are patently perceived as ridiculous.
Christopher Nolan’s debut motion picture was the 1998 Following, released just two years before Memento. The latter skyrocketed him in the milieu of distinguished characters of the cinema industry. Nolan, a Director renowned for his puzzling pictures and mind-boggling plotlines had the start of the century mark the advent of his career in all the commendable senses. His movies are captivating, impregnated with a delicious sap of mystery, culminating with the elevation of man’s mental intricacy – an effect resulted from the prolonged exposure to reality and imaginarium.
Memento was the type of movie that refused the clichés of its contemporaneity, opposing vehemently in favor of revealing its own nuances to which viewers would have to be hewn to instead. Bewildering and at times evasive, the thriller tells interlocking stories or events told out of sequence (i.e. a reversed plot, a story told backwards) having Leonard Shelby (Guy Pearce) as a central figure. Suffering from a strange sort of amnesia after one night’s violent break-in, Leonard’s last memory retained only the image of his wife perishing away into flames. As an effect, he decides to avenge her and perseveres in this sense, rummaging through everything that brings a recollection to him about murder.
Based on a short story written by his brother, Jonathan, Christopher Nolan wrote the screenplay and directed the movie, portraying the exasperating and atypical situation of a man who attempts to be his own advisor and judge amid circumstances beyond his reach. Mindful about minute details, Nolan constructs a somewhat alter-ego to Leonard’s original persona, plunging him into the abysmal depths of his ailing consciousness. Deriving from an utmost necessity of keeping track of events, Leonard covered his entire body in indelible marks carrying important names and reminders. As a further matter, he has educated himself to have a marker or a pen with a scrapbook and a Polaroid camera on him at all times, therefore enabling himself to take notes and pictures of people he comes in contact with. This series of hindmost self-imposed practices led the protagonist to be shunned by society and remain enigmatic to viewers and witnesses.
But how and what makes up the whole of this movie’s genius? Is it the skillful performance of Carrie-Anne Moss and Guy Pearce? The masterful directorial techniques of Nolan? The non-linear narrative structure? The answer lies in amassing several elements and facts, such as that of the movie’s $5m budget which was elegantly used to render an innovation to the genre.
The atmosphere unfolds conundrums so difficult to solve, that viewers are left pondering whether there are any hints or allusions to time as a phenomenon or to the time of the crime which provoked the incipit of the action. Why exactly? Because the pyramid of events are advancing and sometimes returning back to their origin, thus crafting an iconic back and forth motion.
“I don’t even know how long she’s been gone. It’s like I’ve woken up in bed and she’s not here… because she’s gone to the bathroom or something. But somehow, I know she’s never gonna come back to bed. If I could just… reach over and touch… her side of the bed, I would know that it was cold, but I can’t. I know I can’t have her back… but I don’t want to wake up in the morning, thinking she’s still here. I lie here not knowing… how long I’ve been alone. So how… how can I heal? How am I supposed to heal if I can’t… feel time?”
Pondering further, we are left to return to the question of the remake. It certainly is not a matter of rejecting its remake, it’s that the antithetical clarity within the ambiguity of Christopher Nolan’s twist-laden movie is unattainable in any other format. Because the key technique in constructing the movie was to inspire an absolute reality, a sort of thing that shakes you to the core, however surprisingly leaving you in a daze.
So, what’s left?
“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. “
To construe it another way? Regardless of the year, remakes have been notorious for disbanding original structures. The term per se reveals precisely that the thing in question will be done differently, to a certain extent only be inspired from. Yet let us not be quick to judge and let’s remain firm in our critical appreciation as we value the ab ovo whilst keeping a close eye on tidings.