Saturday, December 1, 2012

What Controls A Person? (Memento)

80. Memento (2001)

Leonard, an amnesiac, wakes up every morning having to learn the basic focus of his life: his wife was killed and the man responsible is still at large.  Leonard must track down the man and kill him, for her sake.  As the morning wears on, he discovers the notes, tattoos and clues he has left himself to discover the attacker.

As a unit, the human race is powerful, able to change the surface of the earth.  As an individual, a human being is weak.  Yes, a single human being can be amazingly creative or destructive.   single human can change the flow of history, potentially.  But any plans a human can make can be disrupted by another person.  Each person is limited by their weakness.  And if another knows a person’s weakness, in detail, they can manipulate them to their own devises.  If a person’s weakness is lust, those who have the ability to sate that lust have complete power over them.  If a person’s weakness is fear, those who manipulate fear successfully have complete control over them.

And if Leonard's weakness is obsession, the one who feeds that obsession knowingly has complete control over him.  It is not the obsession that controls him, but the one who knows how to use the obsession to make him do as they please.

To understand and use a person’s weakness is the ability to control them.

1 comment:

  1. I love the discipline it takes to go so methodically through all of this films, Steve. It is tough to talk about this particular film without necessarily getting into spoilers, and for those of us who love it, we would never want to ruin someone else's experience of seeing it for the first time. [So those who have never seen it, stop reading now!] ...

    To me, the most moving part of Memento is the final thematic sleight of hand. Throughout the film, the viewer is pummeled with scenerios of the most despicable forms of deception (between the hapless Leonard and all who would maniplulate his malady for their own purposes): but by the end, the film becomes a contemplation on SELF-deception. In this sense, Memento works as an allegory for life, where we spend so much time obsessing and fretting over the lies other people may be telling us, but so little contemplating (or even acknowledging) the lies we tell ourselves - particularly those things that form our identity. For example, I can tell you why I became a lawyer 15 years ago, but the quesiton of why I am still a lawyer might be a little more difficult to address with any level of emotional honesty.