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Manipulation in Memento

            The reverse narrative of Christopher Nolan's Memento manipulates the audience to make incorrect inferences about the characters. The movie starts at the end and goes on to the beginning, at first glance it's just a gimmick, how many movies have been made like this. The reverse narrative is more than that however; there is a dead body and a man with a Polaroid camera when the movie begins. Why did this man kill the other one? Why does he take a picture? The facts aren't present and this allows one to sympathize with Leonard Shelby. At the beginning of each scene, one is left wondering how these events came to be, like injuries or tattoos for example. The reverse narrative aspect of Memento makes it possible to see the world as Leonard does, it lets the audience know what it feels like to have anterograde amnesia, the lack of a short term memory. The audience is right there with Leonard, not knowing whether a character is a friend or a foe. Not knowing the true nature or motivation of these characters.
             The first character that actually appears in Memento is Leonard Shelby or, as he hates to be called, Lenny. Incidentally, Leonard is also the main character in the movie. About three or four second into the movie, the audience is forced to ask themselves, "What's with the Polaroid camera?" But the most important question the audience will ask is, "What the hell is going on?!" Memento is intentionally made so that the audience is constantly asking themselves this question just as Leonard does through out the film. This sympathy that the viewer feels for Leonard Shelby is the way that Christopher Nolan manipulates the audience and therefore causes incorrect inferences about this character. The audience picks up on Leonard's mission to avenge his wife's death fairly quickly, within minutes of the opening scene actually. The audience then thinks that they have figured out the basic plot of the movie and makes assumptions about how the movie will begin.

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