In the movie Memento, a non-linear narrative structure was adopted. What effect does this peculiar narrative structure have on the movie watchers?

  • Effects vary from person to person, but director's intentions remain their own.
    – Tablemaker
    Jan 11, 2012 at 13:21
  • 3
    As an aside, on some of the DVD releases there is the option to watch the entire film in chronological order - which turns out to be strangely dissatisfying.
    – Nobby
    Jan 11, 2012 at 14:02
  • 1
    OOO, I need to find me one of these, that would be interesting, even if dissatisfying.
    – Tablemaker
    Jan 11, 2012 at 14:03
  • 1
    Memento is not a non-linear structure!
    – user587
    Jan 12, 2012 at 19:49

3 Answers 3


The effect of the order of sequences in the film is meant to display Leonard's inability to remember, showing what seems to be a mixed series of events out of order. It is also performed this way because it is a way for the viewer to sympathize and get involved with the story, trying to figure out what is going on as much as the main character is.

It is only when Leonard realizes the truth about Teddy does the movie's B&W and Color scenes (Essentially, the 2 different timelines) converge which is also when the viewer returns to what was the beginning and share in Leonard's realization

  • 1
    This looks very much like my answer, only using other words... and 4 minutes later. I find this very strange...
    – Dragos
    Jan 11, 2012 at 13:45
  • 6
    Coincidences happen. Feel free to downvote, however.
    – Tablemaker
    Jan 11, 2012 at 13:48
  • @Dragos The reason for choosing this as the best answer is because it tend to be a bit more clearer. Nonetheless, I upvoted both of your answer. And I doubt Shads0 plagiarized your answer.
    – jokerdino
    Jan 11, 2012 at 14:55
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    @Dragos I think it is really coincidence, as the answer is quite obvious and I myself would've written the same, hadn't there already been two such answers. I myself wouldn't cancel an answer I have half-way finished just because there appeared a similar one in the meantime. The web is still an asynchronous being and he didn't write this in just one second!
    – Napoleon Wilson
    Jan 11, 2012 at 15:47
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    I read somewhere that a large reason for the use of the non-linear structure was so that the drama would be in the beginning - if you think about it, the way the film works out is that the climax is in the middle instead of the end if you go linearly. Jan 13, 2012 at 2:26

I am not sure, this is just a guess: The director might have decided to use this narrative structure in order to confuse the watcher. The main character suffers from a strange type of amnesia, that is why he can't remember the past. We, as watchers, are confronted with the same problem: we see the present, but have no idea of what events lead to this. I think the point is to increase our empathy with the character. What is more, he hides his true intentions(the surprise in the ending).

  • 3
    In case you care the type of amnesia is Anterograde amnesia Jan 11, 2012 at 21:09
  • @ConradFrix Thank you for the information. Really interesting.
    – Dragos
    Jan 12, 2012 at 7:37

As from a Christopher Nolan interview, he tried to make the viewers view the story in two different ways. The black and white is what we see from outside. We see Leonard talking to an unknown person. Do we hear what the other person is taking, or see him while the other person is taking in reality? No. So we hear only Leonard, see only Leonard. We move according to true events.

But things start to go a little bumpy after Leonard kills Jimmy. The colour part is what we see Leonard's mind. We also get to know what he is thinking. Like,'Okay, what am I doing?' Or 'Maybe I should search the drawer, although I know I would find nothing'. That is why things we see from his perspective, makes us believe what he believes. We think Teddy is a criminal. We think Natalie as a good friend.

But things are revealed at the end, where we start to think according to what facts are, when we start to see the scenes ourselves, not according to what he thinks. And so the colour scenes go backwards, revealing more and more deep truths, and making us switch from Leonard's own reasoning to our own reasoning.

More information: 18-minute analysis by Christopher Nolan on Memento


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