Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Memento - How the editing creates the films narrative and represents the character and his disability

The film memento has a non-linear narrative, which differs from typical films. The film is edited to separate the film into two sections; the black and white scenes and the colour scenes.
The opening shot of the film is an extreme close up of what would appear to be a mans hand holding a Polaroid; a very gory photograph of a person who has clearly been shot in the head,with blood splattered everywhere; this is an enigma code as the audience want to know the circumstances around this mans death,like who killed him and why there was a picture being taken of him. As the scene continues the Polaroid begins to fade and it is shaken, as it would be whilst it is developing and it soon becomes clear that the scene is going backwards in time, as the photograph un-develops. The Polaroid itself is a cultural code as if you weren't aware of how Polaroids work then you wouldn't understand. Non-diegetic sound plays along with this to create an atmosphere that creates emotion for the audience as they are looking at an image that can fuel emotion so, they have added music to encourage the triggering of this. The music builds up as the scene goes backwards until we see a quick flashes of the shooting that just happened, the pace of the editing in this matches the events of the shooting and the music becomes much more dramatic for those few seconds, triggering interest for the audience as they know some of their questions could be answered, however the editing cuts so that although we see the event, we don't gage the reasoning behind the shooting or in fact all the details of what and who this person is. We see the pace gradually increase as we work from the aftermath to the actual shooting, the taking of the photo and the shots of the fired bullet and glasses fallen on the floor are shown slowly, with the audience able to piece together the confusing details. This music and the scene working its way backwards is an action code as the scene before which is actually what happened after implies some form of action is just about to take place; as we can see from the Polaroid that something has.
The narrative then moves into a completely different direction as the scenes become black and white. It appears to be the past; as the commentary by the character himself implies. The editing in this scene is substantial; with lots of short close ups and extreme close ups of parts of the man and the room he is in, showing all the little details. It begins with a close up of the mans profile and it focuses in on his eye, implying to the audience that we are about see this characters point of view. Sure enough we soon see the room and shots of the mans body such as his leg, through the man's eyes. This is when we first become aware of his disability. The audience were left with an enigma code as to why the man was taking a photo of the man he shot earlier, yet as we see examples of his lack of short term memory it becomes clearer. Along with the characters commentary on it, the disability is a huge part of the storyline and his character. The short close-up montage editing is a symbolic code of the characters memory as it portrays it as simplistic; from the monotonal colours, and obviously limited from the short shots in the sequence; so the editing is giving us an insight into his disability.
The scene returns to colour and we assume to be back to the scene of the shooting where we left. but this isn't the case; we see the man interact with a member of staff where he is staying discussing his disability and explaining how he can't remember the man behind the counter. He pays a fee for his room, so it is made clear he is staying in some sort of temporary accommodation, a symbolic code of how his life is temporary due to his disability, however this is a cultural code as not everyone would be aware of such places as motels, which seem the most likely place for him to be staying. Then we are introduced to someone we recognise, the man who he shot, so we know that the film isn't following a chronological order and that we are going to find out the circumstances leading to the shooting. We know this character is key as there is another Polaroid of him and the man is aware of his importance even though he can't remember anything else.
The colour scenes are playing out the actual events leading up to the events at the beginning, and showing him  living in society and dealing and interacting with people unaware of his disability, yet the black and white narrative gives us an insight into his perception of himself and the situation and the way his mind works, or doesn't. He commentates them so to allow an explanation with showing any extra shots that need to explain the storyline; instead the black and white shots focus on what the character is seeing himself.

1 comment:

  1. Great stuff Becca. Not only is your writing focused and analytical there was no Pigeon detectives whilst I read it (though I note it's still on your mixpod).

    Great work once again.