Film Analysis: Memento

Purpose and Goals:

In this assignment, you will analyze the significance of time in Christopher Nolan’s film Memento. This assignment will give you the opportunity to perform a literary analysis, develop your competency in audio-visual literacy, and incorporate scholarly sources into your own argument. This piece should be about 1,500 words.

Interpretation and Analysis:

This is not a film review, but rather an interpretive piece, so you do not need to summarize the plot of the film. You might focus on any number of issues related to the theme of time in the film: Why does Memento unfold in reverse chronological order? What is Leonard’s understanding of the relationship between memory, meaning, and selfhood? How do the audience’s perceptions toward the characters shift as the film progresses?

Incorporation of Scholarly Sources:

 I will provide you with two scholarly articles about the film, which you must incorporate into your argument. You should not merely summarize these pieces, but rather treat them as conversation partners. Whether you agree or disagree with these scholars’ arguments, you must succinctly explain what they are arguing. If you disagree with their arguments, then you must explain why they are flawed. If you agree with their arguments, then you must explain how they support your own argument. You should accurately summarize the scholars’ arguments, but do not simply repeat them without offering a contribution of your own.

Audio-visual Literacy:

Your analysis should consider traditional literary elements of the film, such as setting, dialogue, plot, symbolism, and character development, as well as its audio-visual nature: how do the cinematography, editing, and score contribute to the film’s view of time?


This assignment will comprise 10% of your final grade. The first draft will not be graded, but if you do not turn it in on time you may fail the assignment. I will comment on the first draft to guide your revision. The second draft will receive a letter grade.

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