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Leonard’s Tattoos in Memento

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Leonard’s Tattoos in Memento

Leonard’s Tattoos in Memento

Memento is a film written by director Christopher Nolan, where Leonard Shelby, an overly confused man wants revenge after his wife's murder. Leonard suffers brain damage rendering him incapable of making new memories; her death is the last thing branded in his mind. Though his affliction keeps him from being able to form new memories, Leonard seeks revenge; to wreak this revenge he must keep notes on even his own life, tattooing himself with important clues.

Told in segments that move backwards in time, the audience follow Leonard back through a series of events, learning in each segment what happened previously, things Leonard has already forgotten. To help him with his search, he has evolved a system. He takes Polaroid pictures, putting names to faces, marking which car is his, which hotel room is his. Moreover, to keep certain notes from being lost or changed, he has an elaborate series of tattoos slowly growing all over his body.

The largest of these tattoos is written right across Leonard’s chest, written in backwards script so that when he stands in front of a mirror, the main fact is there for him to see: “John G. Raped and Murdered My Wife.” Below this is another tattoo that reads, “Find him and kill him.” Scattered across his torso and arms are a collection of facts he has gathered about the case, the points that Leonard thinks are most important. In addition, he has only one tattoo that is visible with clothes in which he is able to remember that he has a problem with his memory because he has conditioned himself to look at his "Remember Sammy Jankis" tattoo. During some scenes that Leonard is talking on the phone to an unknown person, tells the story of Sammy Jankis. Sammy was in a car accident which caused him to get amnesia, the same condition Leonard has. Leonard, an insurance claims investigator, was assigned Sammy's case. Leonard, who says he "can read people," was suspicious of Sammy's condition, because he caught a “slight look of recognition” in Sammy’s eye every time he saw him. Therefore, he ordered Sammy to undergo testing to see if his condition was psychological or physical. Because Sammy did not respond to conditioning, Leonard decided Sammy's condition was psychological and refused the claim. Sammy's wife interpreted "psychological" to mean that Sammy was faking his condition. So, she tested him by asking him to give her insulin shot multiple times. He did, and she died. Leonard, after killing his wife, could have gotten the "remember Sammy Jankis" tattoo in order to condition himself to remember the Sammy Jankis story instead of the truth. It is possible

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