Essays on cinematic narrative. The focus is a set of dynamics collected under the concept of folding, a related system of techniques to model agency and causality.

Memento (2000) Story Synopsis

Published: 15 Feb 2014

Memento presents a unique case for creating a synopsis. You have two options. The simple option is In another spot, being an account of what a viewer sees in the movie. But the movie was designed to be experienced by narrative devices that surround the film, in particular DVD extras and a comprehensive website at

So someone who experienced the film the way it was intended might write a different synopsis, one of the story as compiled in their mind based on all the channels from the writers.

(The film was written by brothers Christopher and Jonathan. Jonathan wrote the original short story. Christopher did the bending to make it into the film. Jonathan subsequently embellished through the website and DVD extras.)

This is that second synopsis. It is in four parts:

What Happens Before the Film

Catherine takes control of the narrative.

Part 1,inwhich we find that Catherine is the writer of the story.

Leonard Shelby (Lenny) is an insurance investigator, lives in San Francisco and is happily married to Catherine. Catherine is diabetic. Her favorite book is Claudius the God, the sequel to I Claudius, by Robert Graves. Graves' stated intent was to reinvent history. Catherine reads this book over and over.

One of Leonard‘s early cases is Sammy Jankis, victim of a car accident and apparently disabled by anterograde memory dysfunction (AMD). Leonard learns details of the condition, because it is his job to deny payment. He checks the testing which has been done on Sammy, and reveals Sammy to be faking his condition. The telltale sign Leonard believes is that Sammy fails to learn when shocked by the test items as a true AMD victim would.

Later, on February 24, 1997, Leonard and Catherine were attacked by two masked burglars, junkies. While Leonard slept, his wife was attacked, raped in the bathroom and wrapped in a shower curtain. Waking, Leonard enters the bathroom, shoots and kills the intruder he sees. He is smashed into a mirror by a second man and develops the condition that he previously studied, AMD. The condition in this case is genuine, and he is physically capable of building new memories with conditioning.

The police find drugs in the trunk of the thieve's car, together with a note about a John G. They do not credit the second man theory much. Catherine is non-responsive after the event, but survives to care for Leonard, who is wracked by guilt in flashbacks, and therefore lethargic. Catherine is severely haunted by the rape and desires revenge more than life. She concocts a plan which involves conditioning Leonard and turning him into a revenge machine; possibly this will also save his life.

Catherine's Plan

Catherine works on a story for Leonard that has her killed during the attack, obligating Leonard to seek revenge. She is surprised that her conditioning results in him tattooing himself across the chest as a memory aid. She therefore adds professional tattoos over time to reinforce her story. She modifies the police report to reflect her created reality. A key part of this is the enhancement of the Sammy Jankis story in his conditioned memory, and merging his identity with that of Sammy, whose life he ruined. This provided driving guilt.

Catherine sets the conditioning by making Leonard give her overdoses of insulin in the first week of November 1997, having planted the notion that Sammy did this to his wife. On her death, Teddy Gammell is the police detective assigned to the case; he investigates Leonard in the same way that Leonard investigated Sammy. Teddy proves that Leonard is not faking AMD, acquitting him of murder. After the acquittal, Leonard is committed to a mental institution on the 16th of January 1998. While in the hospital, Leonard devises tricks to allow him to function: an elaborate routine of checking for photos and notes and referencing the tattoos. Through self-conditioning, he becomes capable of executing plans.

Teddy's Plan

Leonard escapes from the asylum in September of 1998 and connects with Teddy, who helps first out of friendship and then for profit. Together they track down and kill the rapist a year before the time of the movie; Leonard is photographed by Teddy pointing to the spot on his chest where the I did it tattoo was to go, presumably specified by a note from Catherine so she would be assured that he would stop looking. Teddy hides that photo and the message is never tattooed. Teddy starts to exploit Leonard for profit, removing key messages, photos and sections of the police report. He repeatedly calls Leonard on the phone to feed him false memories, prompting Lenny to tattoo “don’t answer the phone;” the tattoo parlor’s band-aid is still on as the movie starts.

Teddy arranges for Leonard to be in a motel where the desk clerk, Burt, is told to ignore Leonard's instructions on phone calls and sends through Teddy’s calls. Teddy starts a plan to have Lenny kill a drug dealer, Jimmy Grantz, knowing that Jimmy was carrying $200,000. Teddy had set up a fake deal, claiming he had amphetamines for sale. This deal was made at Ferdy’s Bar, where Jimmy dealt drugs with the help of girlfriend Natalie. The two also used the Discount Inn for dealing, involving Burt in a minor way. This is the hotel that Teddy has arranged for Leonard to stay in.

Teddy calls Leonard Lenny because he knows that is what Catherine uniquely used. He hopes it will help with the conditioning transfer.

(I have emphasized Catherine’s role in this history. In the most common interpretations, her intent and role is ambiguous.)

In short, what happens before the movie starts is that Catherine is a doctor or has some reason to have drugs, prompting a break-in and rape. Her husband is ruined in the process; she considers her life ruined.

She plans to trade suicide for certain revenge and so implants a story and guilt-driven urge in her sick husband Leonard. She engineers the tattoos at least late in their creation, and tricks him into overdosing her.

Leonard successfully accomplishes the revenge with help from the sympathetic cop, Teddy, who investigated the case.

Before the movie begins, Teddy has assumed control to further his drug business. He works out of Ferdy's Bar and the Discount Inn motel, where he is staying in the room next to Leonard's.

What Happens in the First Part of the Film

Teddy takes control of the narrative.

Part 2, inwhich in which Teddy becomes the writer of the story. This is not the first part in movie-time. It is the first part of the story when we are in the movie. This section is in black and white, showing that the fellow who sees — Leonard — is not the one creating the reality. All the information about Sammy is in this part.


[0:02:34] Leonard wakes in room 21 of the Discount Inn, discovers this. (The key is visible.)

[0:06:26] Leonard explains memory dynamics. First sight of tattoo: 'remember Sammy Jankis.' Sammy Jankis made notes but kept them mixed up. You need system to make it work. (Meaning the movie.) Sees note on leg. (Gideon Bible open to Leviticus. Wedding ring highlighted. He looks out over room 304, from which he will emerge in the next scene in the film.)

[0:10:13] You need a system. Learn to trust your own handwriting. Important. Be wary of other people writing things. Tattoo is just a permanent note. Starts to shave leg. Phone rings. Answers.

[0:16:13] First phone call. Explains condition. Reveal tattoos. Explain Sammy to caller. Method: habit, routine, drive.

[0:22:18] Talk about Sammy. Flashbacks. Shave while talking. (All Sammy flashbacks are in black and white because they are from Catherine. Note over this period there are three calls.)

[0:26:45] Shaving. More about Sammy, possible AMD. AMD explained. Insulin shots shown. Leonard orders more tests on Sammy.

[0:31:43] More about Sammy. Sammy did not learn. He should have been learning. (Note that the shapes of the test form a map and the make a map tattoo on Leonard’s chest has shapes to remind.)

[0:39:27] Sammy tested for months. Tests showed no learning so the condition psychological or faked. But conditioning works for Leonard. (But note, at [0:39:50], Sammy’s hand does hesitate. He has learned, so Leonard's conclusion may have been false!)

[0:45:03] Sammy’s wife starts to try conditioning. Leonard prepares a tattoo needle. (Likely this is how Leonard started his conditioning. No accident that Leonard speaks about this note conditioning while making his own notes.)

[0:48:57] Caller has to go. Starts homemade tattoo, fact 5 access to drugs. (Is it his handwriting?)

[0:52:06] Holds card for Fact 5 tattoo, access to drugs. Short scene.

[0:53:35] Second call. “who is this?” Short scene.

[0:56:38] While tattooing, gets info from second caller (same person?) who tells about drug angle. Leonard goes to his notes. Police report mentions drugs in trunk of stolen car at Leonard’s’s house from attackers. Says he got police report from friends on force. Pieces missing. Police not looking for John G. Report says 15 ounces of weed and 2 kilo of heroin. Some pages are missing. Many items are blacked out.

[0:59:31] Something about drugs in trunk not true. Stash that big, why would an addict be looking to score? Teddy probably on phone, telling that John G was a dealer. Leonard changes tattoo message from access to drugs, to drug dealer. Caller needs to go. Lenny says call me back. (Clearly Leonard is more susceptible to suggestion over the phone because he cannot see the eyes. Why would drug rich guys break in, though as Teddy says to score? Was Catherine a doctor, with drugs in house?)

[1:02:42] Tattooing drug dealer. More flashbacks, this time Sammy’s wife, mentions hiding food and starving Sammy. she wants to know Leonard’s honest opinion. Opinion is Sammy can make new memories. Scratching at arm tattoo. (If Sammy’s wife is Leonard’s wife, this affirmation makes sense.)

[1:09:22] Finds new tattoo on right forearm. Never answer the phone. Professionally done. Caller hangs up when asked who he/she is. (Tattoo is because he knew that the calls were being used to plant memories.)

[1:13:01] Tattoo again. Phone rings. (third call). Leonard calls front desk (Burt) to cancel all calls.

[1:17:18] Leonard listens to room next door through glass. Burt (first appearance) says there is a cop on phone. Leonard says no. (No explanation about why Leonard would be concerned with listening to next door. Possibly he subconsciously knows that Teddy is staying at the same hotel.)

[1:21:44] Rings again. Someone passes by his window. Envelope under door: take my call has photo with blood no message of Leonard pointing to space on chest. Phone rings. (Scene before sets up the window passing thing, with Natalie closing curtains and saying that someone is coming. If the call is from Teddy, then the envelope is from Burt, and it is he who passes the window. This is odd, because Burt would not have to pass the window to get from the front desk to the door of room 21, but it could be a shadow. The collusion means that Teddy would be calling from the lobby. More likely, Teddy is in the room next door.)

[1:23:18] Answers phone. Caller asks what Leonard has done. Something bad maybe. (Why would Teddy start a conversation this way? Is it because he knows the guilt drives the conditioning?)

[1:26:33] Leonard says that he could do anything. Story about Sammy's wife in office again. She gave Sammy test with shots. Dies. Sammy put in hospital. What drug dealer? (This seems to be a continuation of the second call which mentioned drugs in car, so this must be Teddy. But we do not know that it was Teddy for the first call. This is where the flashback in the hospital superimposes Leonard on Sammy at [1:30:02].)

[1:33:59] Jimmy Grantz deals drugs out of bar (where girlfriend works). Plans to kill. Goes to meet Teddy in lobby. Takes map down, puts in big bag with files and takes with camera. Meets Officer Gammell in lobby. who says Lenny. Teddy does not want to be called Officer Gammell in front of Burt, nor does he want that on the photo. Teddy is very particular about where his picture is taken. Teddy provides location of Jimmy. Leonard drives there and parks the truck. Takes tireiron into building. Jimmy comes expecting Teddy. Two color glances of Catherine. Jimmy recognizes memory man. Lenny hits, then asks to strip. Don’t want to get blood on them. Color flash of Catherine again. Jimmy is strangled. Photo taken. As it develops, black and white turns to color. Very cool. Clothes changed. Move Jimmy to basement. Jimmy says Sammy [1:40:29]. Leonard doubts himself.

(This is first chronological appearance of Teddy. Lenny is probably a conditioning word. Probably Teddy has gotten himself involved with the drug gang that operates out of the motel, and does not want Burt to know he is a cop. Some thinking about geometry reveals that the shot Teddy is trying to avoid is the inclusion of the Discount Inn sign. There is some question about why Leonard is so concerned with taking the clothes off. I suppose he may be checking for tattoos. It is notable that the Catherine shots here are the first color in this series.)

Teddy comes. Leonard says guy hurt. Hits Teddy. Teddy confesses that Jimmy was to buy some speed. Jimmy dealt out of the Discount Inn. You tell everyone about Sammy: Great story- gets better every time you tell it. So you lie to yourself to be happy. There's nothing wrong with that. We all do it. Who cares if there's a few little details you'd rather not remember? Flashbacks. One of insulin shot, another of pinch. Told got the real John G. Over a year ago. Couple of junkies not know wife didn’t live alone. You don’t want the truth. You make up your own truth, like your police file. Teddy says that Leonard took out the 12 pages.

(But the missing bits are strikeouts too. Probably we can believe most of what Teddy says — excepting that Leonard modified the police report — but the interpretation is not what he implies.)

The dynamic is quite simple. Teddy was on hand when Leonard's conditioning by Catherine took hold. He witnessed it and once Leonard had accomplished what Catherine intended, he became the control, with (motel clerk) Burt's help. He takes the room next to Leonard's, presumably #22.

Teddy calls Leonard to get him tuned, by repeating the outlines of his conditioning. He uses Catherine's code-word Lenny, and her code phrase “what have you done?”.

When calling the first time, he has to go, presumably because of drug business with Burt and Jimmy. Shortly, Teddy takes Leonard to the location of Jimmy, where according to Teddy's plan, Leonard kills Jimmy and places him in the basement (subconscious).

What Happens in the Second Part of the Film

Leonard takes control of the narrative.

Part 3, in which Leonard becomes the writer of the story.

This section is in color, showing that the creation of the reality and the reporter are the same, Leonard. But each scene is presented with no prior knowledge, just as Leonard would encounter it. They are each about 5 minutes long, about as long as Leonard’s memory lasts, a bit shorter when he is excited; longer when not. The real switch to part 3 happens during a sequence about [1:49:54] when he closes his eyes and imagines a new world to inhabit, one produced by Emma, Nolan’s girlfriend.


[1:46:46] Lenny decides to kill Teddy. Leonard leaves the building and throws Teddy’s keys away. Leaves bullets in truck (I’m not a killer) to neutralize gun. Don’t believe his lies on photo. Burns photo of Jimmy and one of him from under the door from real killing. (“Lies” here are probably lies about his wife.) Writes down license SG13 7IU. Decides to kill Teddy. Writes number that way. Takes Jag. (Nolan picked this particular license number because it was the postal code for a school Nolan attended in England. Jaguar tag is tag is 208 D5A.)

[1:49:34] Leonard says: I have to believe in a world outside my own mind. He then drives with his eyes shut.

[1:49:45] There is a brief flash of the road he is driving on in this new world he creates.

[1:49:45] Flash to Catherine on his bare chest.

[1:49:48] Another flash of the created world‘s road.

[1:49:50] Flash to Catherine on his bare chest, now you can see homemade tattoo: I’ve done...

[1:51:51] Another flash to the created world’s road.

[1:49:50] Flash to Catherine on his bare chest, now you can see whole homemade tattoo: I’ve done it.

[1:51:53] Another flash to the created world’s road.

[1:49:54] Another flash to Catherine and I’ve done it tattoo, but this time she has eyes closed, turns up and looks at Leonard, who we now see has eyes wide open (while his other self has them closed) (End of Catherine's control through Teddy, because Leonard understands that he has accomplished what Catherine needed.)

[1:49:58] Driving Leonard opens eyes. (Notable that whiskers are the same in the two Leonards.)

[1:50:12] Notices Emma’s Tattoo Parlor, stops, holds up paper with tattoo instructions. Now, where was I? (Emma is the name of Nolan’s then girlfriend, now wife, mapping Leonard’s wife to his own and the recording of memory, in the movie. Immediately next in the film is Emma Thomas’s name as associate producer, shown out of the normal order. Recall that first line in film is So where are you?)

[1:50:23] Credits (Notable that credits are in black and white.)

[1:30:09] Leonard jams brakes at Emma’s Tattoo. (second brake jamb) Gets license tattoo (says I, Tattoo is number 1). Teddy shows up, friendly. Wants Leonard to change to old clothes. Leonard doesn’t, finds coaster with message Come by After Ferdy’s. Escapes out the back of the parlor to avoid Teddy. (The tattoo makes a mistake. Leonard has written the number so that the “eye” and the “one” are the same. Emma makes them both a one on the leg. This will matter.)

[1:23:40] Looking at the coaster with the message, Leonard goes to Ferdy’s. Natalie thought he was Jimmy from car. She knows of him as the memory guy from Jimmy. and that he was at the Discount. She knows about Teddy. She starts test by spitting in beer. (Note that there are — deliberately — two different versions of that message. They both are in the same hand with the same words, but different. Leonard’s untrusted memory again. I think it a goof that the creep at the bar spits in the beer without being told to.)

[1:22:31] In Ferdy’s bar, Natalie tests Leonard’s memory with spit in a beer. Natalie says it was just like that cop said. (The cop being Teddy. She and Lenny go to her place in the jaguar, not shown until later.)

[1:17:52] Leonard and Natalie arrive at her house. He gives his account of what happened to his wife. He shot one intruder; the other bashed his head on left. He lay watching wife die. John G took dead man's gun and replaced it with sap (blackjack). He takes photo of Natalie and is left alone to watch TeeVee. Flashback shows his hand with syringe. Natalie returns angry. (Natalie probably goes to the meeting place and finds her lover Jimmy dead. The flashback of the event with Catherine uses the very same shot of the book and clock we will see later with the prostitute. It is important that in this flashback, the book is tattered as it would be well after the attack. Leonard uses the British term for blackjack, sap.)

[1:13:25] Leonard is in Natalie’s house, looking at files. Natalie comes back, starts the process of targeting Dodd. Removes pens. Dodd is Jimmy’s partner. Natalie explains that she is setting up Lenny. Taunts him into hitting her. She goes to car, while Leonard looks for pens, then comes back. (She has probably been to the rendezvous place and found a nude corpse. She is mad because of this, wants protection.)

[1:09:57] Leonard frantically looks for pens. Natalie enters, claims Dodd hit her because of something Leonard asked her to do. Dodd will kill her without the drugs. Leonard goes to teach Dodd a lesson. Says that Catherine called him Lenny and he hated it. Goes to jaguar. (Notable that she knows that Teddy was the guy Jimmy was to meet. She calls him Lenny because that is what Teddy called him.)

[1:04:57] Leonard goes to jaguar from Natalie’s; Teddy is waiting in it. He warns against Natalie (lying about Natalie knowing who he is). Gives him the name of Discount Inn (rather than staying at Natalie’s) writing on a coaster. (Ferdy’s coasters are used as the drug messages. (When Teddy says that Natalie doesn’t know who he is, he is likely saying that as with Burt, she knows him as Teddy, but not Officer Gammell.)

[1:00:11] Leonard goes to room 304 at the Discount Inn, the address on Ferdy’s coaster, using the key that she gave him. Puts up his map (a real map with photos.) Calls prostitute from Yellow pages. Has her place wife’s things around room, sleep, then slam the door, waking him. These things are brush, book, bra, bear, pretend it is your bed, all starting with B. We have seen brush in ouch flashback. Can hear clock when he is sleeping. Slams door. (There is some significance to the fact that Teddy’s designated space is to be discounted. Note that Ferdy’s bar on Spruce street is already on map, showing the Leonard was the memory guy at the Teddy/Jimmy meeting there. The prostitute briefly holds the clock like a mirror (Alice). Clock is from previous movie, Following. The reminder for the map is tattooed in center of chest.)

[0:57:32] Prostitute slams door. Leonard wakes. Sees book, clock, brush, bear. We hear clock loudly. Calls for wife. Flashbacks to shower curtain wife. Prostitute doing coke. Asks her to leave. See book and clock again. Takes bag of Catherine’s things to car. (She is in the bathroom doing coke. Next scene in film is Leonard talking to Teddy? Wondering why an addict would break into a bathroom for a fix. An interesting mirror fold.)

[0:53:46] Takes bag of Catherine’s things to what looks like (but isn’t) an old cemetery behind oil refinery. Burns Catherine’s things. Bear, brush, book, clock. Flashbacks. One of her brushing hair with him pinching. We would later associate this with insulin shot. Flashback of her rereading book, knowing how it will turn out. She says don’t be a prick. (Not a goof, I think that the book, which Catherine reads again and again, is in the fire, and later gets tossed in the fire. Probably an intended association between prick of the second flashback with the pinch/shot of the first. Clock says 6:10)

[0:52:20] Leaves cemetery driving back at dawn; intercepted by Dodd who has gun, tries to kill. Chase ensues. (Short scene. His memory time is shorter when excited.)

[0:49:25] Chase, what am I doing? Leonard escapes in Jaguar. Sees note he made at Natalie’s that has Dodd’s hotel room 6 at MonteRest Inn on 5th street. Goes to (Mounterest) hotel to get the jump. Accidentally conks guy in room 9. Enters room 6. Chooses whiskey bottle as weapon, goes to bathroom. (First of three humorous color scenes. Seems to have injured his shoulder in breaking into room 9. This business of confused rooms mirrors the situation at the Discount Inn.)

[0:46:06] In Dodd’s hotel room bathroom. Forgets why he is there. Takes shower. Surprises Dodd, clobbers him, binds him, puts in closet, calls Teddy. More bathroom flashbacks. (This scene humorous as well.)

[0:40:14] Opens with flashback to the bathroom/murder scene. Shower curtain suffocation. Loss of memory with breaking of blue bath crystals. Leonard wakes where am I? trying to discover where he is. Finds gun, Dodd. Teddy comes. Shows him Dodd. Teddy questions whether he is John G. Teddy pretends he doesn’t know Natalie. Drives Dodd out of town. Teddy tries to get Jaguar keys again. They go to Natalie’s house. (Strange that Teddy would ask if the guy is John G. The most logical explanation is that Teddy met Jimmy at the bar with Natalie but not Dodd or Leonard. Teddy’s license plate at [0:44:15] is clearly changed to match the incorrect tattoo. It now says SG12371U, no space, not IU. but the second I is NOT like the first, but halfway between I and 1. There is a humorous tone to this whole scene.)

[0:32:36] Drives to Natalie’s house. Leonard suspects he killed the wrong guy (not Dodd) under influence from another. There are things you know for sure. The present is trivia I scribble down in notes. She sees tattoos, he says open area is for when JG is found. She says she can help. How can I heal if I can’t feel time. A central rumination. She feels his side of the bed empty like he does. He makes a note on her photo and comes back. (Things he can know for sure are spatial. He remembers that you have to burn photos, a significant learned fact. Do you hear the clock ticking in the bedroom scene, same as in the chronologically later prostitute scene? When he gets up at night and writes on the Leibowitz photo, he is using a copy of Earthling.)

[0:28:30] Leonard wakes in Natalie’s bed. She says she can get license info. She writes meeting address. She kisses Leonard and says she thinks he will remember her. Teddy encounters Leonard again in the Jaguar, outside of Natalie’s. (You get the impression she did not miss Jimmy much.)

[0:22:56] Teddy encounters Leonard again in the Jaguar, outside of Natalie’s. Buys him lunch. Leonard: facts, not memories. Memories can change the shape of a room, can change the color of a car. Memories change. Goes to Discount Inn, lost key. Burt takes him to room 21, admits that he doublerented. Leonard goes to meet Natalie at restaurant. (Note the two things that can change that Leonard mentions. Car: Nolan really does change license plate. Shape of a room, which in a moment is what Burt has done. Leonard sees the note: Shave left thigh; in the next scene he is/was doing that.)

[0:16:58] Meets Natalie. Repeats that wife called him Lenny and he hated it. He does not remember her. Mentions tattoos. She has license info, says the picture looks familiar. She incites Leonard to really remember Catherine. More flashbacks of her. She gives address for killing. She returns his motel room key to 304. Asks if the motel is treating you okay? We are both survivors, take care. He goes to restroom. Sees remember tattoo. (Only Teddy — or Burt — would know to call him Lenny, so she knew Teddy. She would also know the photo is the cop she mentioned chronologically earlier. She probably knows that the address she gives is where Jimmy’s body is. She surely would have gone there.)

[0:11:06] In restroom, sees hand tattoo. Gets forgotten items. Drives to Discount Inn. Enters room 304. Sees map. Pastes Inn, Car, Natalie, Teddy photos. Sees license. Matches photos. Polaroid and license. Calls Teddy. (License number N7022791). Looks at tattoos. Matches leg tattoo. Says SG137 eye U (but tattoo says 7 one U) License photocopy says SG13 7IU. Writes he is the one, Looks at tattoos again. Writes kill him. (Note that as this in the Leonard-as-author section, we have the possibility of Leonard’s untrusted reporting. Nolan literally and deliberately changes this license plate later on in the movie, because of the error that Emma the tattoo artist made. Tattoo has “I” as the one.)

[0:07:01] Writes he is the one, kill him. Takes Dodd’s gun and his camera. Burt: we talked a bunch of times. Asks Burt about holding calls. Likes to look people in the eye (because he can tell lies). What’s the last thing you remember? My wife. Its like waking. Burt: its all backwards. Stayed a couple of days. Leonard pays $40. Teddy shows. Lenny! (Exits room 304, seen in the immediate previous scene from room 21. Here he walks past room 21. His shoulder is injured from the Dodd room experience.)

[0:02:57] Leonard is in the lobby of the Discount Inn; and shows Burt the photo of Teddy (a different one). Teddy shows and calls Leonard “Lenny.” Teddy tries to swap cars and is foiled. They take the Jaguar (window broken) to the meeting place noted by Natalie. Leonard sees his old truck there and notes the tracks are recent. Teddy: “What are you Pocahontas?“ Leonard sees the bullets he left and has a possible recall. Based on the message on the photo, he kills Teddy with Dodd’s gun. Teddy says “Let’s go down into the basement. Then you’ll know who you really are.” At shot of gun, screen goes black. (Photo mirrors the one of Teddy just seen in the movie, and is seen twice here. Mention ofPocahontas. Recognition of bullets. Notion of basement as subconscious.)

[0:00:48]Leonard shoots Teddy and takes a Polaroid. (Camera stored under coat like gun, so two shots. The scene is overlapped black and white with color, played backwards)

[0:00:00} Opening credits

The Nolans surely do not know the deeper history of Pocahontas. So assigning any particular weight to this reference is a stretch.

But just for the record, elsewhere in this site will be a history that involves her in a surprising way — a way that could be seen as cogent to the reference here.

What Happens After the Film

The Nolans take control of the narrative.

Part 4, in which the Nolans become the writers of the story.


Jonathan Nolan reads newspaper reports that police found a picture of a dead man in a room of the Discount Inn, together with a gun and other burned photos and documents.

The motel clerk Burt identified the renter as Leonard Shelby, a weird forgetful guy.

Quote: 'Little is known about Shelby himself, but a man by the same name was reported missing from a Bay-area psychiatric facility in September of 1998.'

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