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The Making of Memento

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  BY Gautam Valluri

Memento, Book Review

James Mottram does a fine job in documenting the making of a film as complicated and as debatable as Memento (2000). Anyone whose watched the film has at some point very possibly debated on the fact that this film was even made from what seems to be an unadaptable screenplay. Nolan clearly disagrees with this notion and finds himself in the august company of Stanley Kubrick who once famously claimed "if it can be thought or written, it can be filmed".

What makes Mottram's book so fascinating is that it takes the form of its subject. Much like the film, the book also begins at the end and takes us back, one chapter at a time, towards the inception of the idea that eventually became the film. Nolan himself is featured prominently throughout the book along with leading actor Guy Pearce, villain Joe Pantoliano and the femme fatale Carrie-Ann Moss. Mottram literally takes the reader onto the sets of Memento and gives us a sense of what it was like to be part of the group that made the film possible.

Through the book, one gets an idea of how difficult it was to make the film  and to get it screened in front of an audience. If there's one thing that a lot of people don't give Nolan credit for is that he is a believer unto the end. His unshakeable dedication to his work is perhaps what makes others follow him blindly towards perfection. We also get a sense of how important his wife Emma Thomas and his brother Jonathan Nolan are to his work and how they so selflessly give themselves to making his vision come to life.

The book, published by Faber & Faber, features a select few stills from the film and its production process at the beginning with intriguing captions which is a nice sentimental addition. At the end is the short story by Jonathan Nolan in its complete form. 

It is clear that Mottram himself is a big fan of the film and its maker but he holds back just enough to not make it look like a forced fanboy idolization. He seems to genuinely understand certain aspects of the film that perhaps not a lot of us bothered to notice and brings forward interesting, open-ended explanations to a lot of questions that were asked about the film ever since its whispering rise to cult popularity. This book is a fine purchase for the intellectual cinephile.