“Memento” movie explained (meaning of the plot and ending)

Meaning of movie "Memento" (plot and ending explained) Films

If you’re one of the many people who’ve seen the movie “Memento” and were left scratching your head by the end, this blog post is for you. In this post, I’ll explain the movie’s plot and what happens in the ending. Read on to get a better understanding of this underrated film!

Leonard Shelby is a man with a rare type of amnesia. In the past, an ambitious agent of an insurance company. In the present, a disabled person whose life is impossible without records and photographs.

The reason for his condition is a tragedy played out in the past. One night, two strangers break into the house and kill Mrs. Shelby. Leonard manages to finish off one villain, but the second, having stunned the hero, disappears from the crime scene. Obsessed with a thirst for revenge, Leonard goes in search of the killer.

At first glance, the film seems to tell the usual crime story. But it was not there! Nolan puts words into the mouths of the characters that change the film’s plot. So, Teddy (the protagonist’s companion) reports that Leonard gave his wife a lethal injection and “shifted” the sad memories to an insurance company client named Sammy Jenkins.

Was it so? Is Jenkins’ story a personal tragedy for Leonard? Who killed Mrs. Shelby anyway? In search of answers, we turn to the plot of the film.

The chronology of events is similar to the manifestation of a Polaroid picture: the black and white past is replaced by the color present. The turning point comes with the emergence of a picture of a dead drug dealer. If Leonard had not destroyed this photograph, it would have been able to complete the puzzle. But, as they say, history does not tolerate the subjunctive mood.

Black and white episode

The protagonist wakes up in the 21st room of the hotel and looks around. He looks out the window and meets his future home with a look.Black and white episode 

He checks the nightstand and finds a Bible.Checks the nightstand and finds a Bible.

An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth… Whoever kills a man must be put to death,” says the Old Testament commandment. Everything points to the motive of the protagonist.

What follows is a lengthy telephone conversation between Leonard and a stranger. Discussing the investigation into the murder of his wife, he notes that several pages are missing from his documents. You can also see an empty form of a psychiatric report among the papers.

“ An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth… Whoever kills a man must be put to death ,” says the Old Testament commandment. Everything points to the motive of the protagonist. What follows is a lengthy telephone conversation between Leonard and a stranger. Discussing the investigation into the murder of his wife, he notes that several pages are missing from his documents. Among the papers, you can also see an empty form of a psychiatric report.

However, there is a completed form on the film’s official website.

To prevent Shelby from noticing the loss, someone replaced him with a dummy. But who did it and why?

The completed report also confirms Leonard’s actual diagnosis. If the “insulin story” happened in the Shelby family, how did Leonard remember it? With anterograde amnesia, the movement of information from short-term to long-term memory is impaired, and the patient remembers everything that happened before the injury but forgets current events.

I remember who I am. I know everything about myself, but. After the injury, I stopped remembering events. Everything slips away. Leonard Shelby

If Leonard had killed his wife, he would not have remembered it, and there would be no memories in long-term memory that consciousness could suppress or project onto someone. For example, Sammy never realized that his wife had died. On the other hand, Leonard can reproduce the tragedy of Jenkins in great detail.

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In addition, a question arises. If Leonard had killed his wife, how could he have been discharged then? After all, murder would prove that the patient is a danger to himself and others. And this would promise long-term treatment or lifelong detention in a psychiatric hospital. In addition, the discharge would be carried out under someone’s guardianship, and Teddy wouldn’t take that risk.
If Leonard escaped from the hospital, he would be wanted. Instead, the hero freely travels around the city, and no one is interested in him except for the mafia.
At the office, The site also contains documents mentioning the death of Mrs. Shelby.

Thus, everything points to Leonard’s wife’s death that fateful night. The hero develops his “remembering” system to convince doctors of his capacity.


Events are in reverse order. After the photo has developed, Leonard puts on Jimmy’s clothes. Teddy comes up to him. The hero finds out that he was deceived. The victim was just a petty drug dealer who never saw his wife. Teddy says his wife was attacked; only she died from an overdose of insulin. And Leonard himself is to blame for the death. A friend says that he used to be on guard of order. He just took pity on Shelby and decided to help find John G. According to him, the first and honest Johnny, the hero killed a year ago. Then Teddy tricked him into looking at other John Gs, which, as it turned out, were quite a few. Teddy and himself, according to the documents of John G.

Leonard makes himself believe with notes that the natural killer of his wife is Teddy. Destroys photos of other John Gs being killed. He takes Jimmy’s car and drives away from Teddy. In his pocket, he finds a note from Jimmy’s girlfriend, Natalie. Leonard forgets it’s someone else’s jacket and thinks the girl is texting him. In a bar, he finds Natalie and tells her about his illness. The girl promises to help if he does a favor for her. She tricks Leonard into taking out a man named Dodd. Not without difficulty, but Shelby kicks the big man out of town. Natalie punches the license plate of the alleged killer’s car for Leonard. It turns out to be Teddy. On the rights, the hero sees the name – John Edward Gammel. Everything fits together for Leonard. He takes a “friend” out of town and kills him.

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How does the Lenny system work?

The first thing that catches your eye is the “Remember Sammy Jenkins” tattoo. Even though the hero is right-handed, the tattoo is on the left hand. Please note that there is also a wedding ring on the left hand.

Each tattoo contains a semantic and associative connection, allowing you to retrieve the necessary memories from memory instantly. Through the tragedy of Sammy, the hero becomes aware of his illness so that he does not constantly have to delve into hospital records.

Sammy’s story allows you to understand what’s wrong with him. Leonard Shelby

The wedding ring evokes the last tragic memory of his wife. The “facts” describe the killer, and other tattoos complete the overall picture. For example, “Photos: house, car, friend, enemy” indicates which photos he should always have with him. So Lenny unmistakably gets into his car and returns to the same motel. “Buy film,” “don’t trust,” “eat,” and “newer answer the phone” make his world stable and relatively safe.

Why is Sammy’s story so important to Leonard?

The memory of him is closely intertwined with an oppressive sense of guilt. Lenny convinced honey. The commission that Sammy’s disorder is psychogenic (i.e., some psychological mechanisms prevent memorization). He gave hope to Mrs. Jenkins that “just find the right words and Sammy will be normal .” But no magic words or actions can revive the injured brain cells, and Mrs. Jenkins dies from the insulin “exam.” Leonard feels complicit in her death.

Should I trust Teddy?

Meaning of movie "Memento" (plot and ending explained)

If Sammy wasn’t a malingerer, why does Teddy claim otherwise? There are many questions about Teddy. Chief among them – is it worth believing?

Teddy claims to have handled Mrs. Shelby’s case. But he cannot explain who the second perpetrator was (“What difference does it make who, a simple guy …“) or why the investigation found traces of only one attacker. It seems that he only knows from Leonard’s words with the research.

Every word he says is filled with deceit. For example, when Lenny kills drug dealer Jimmy, Teddy pretends not to know Shelby.

Leonard: Hey, mister! Help! There’s a guy down there! He’s in a coma, and we must take him to the doctor. I do not know what happened, and I have memory problems. Have we met?

Teddy (shows a police badge): – No. Don’t worry, and I’m from the police.

[…] Leonard hits Teddy in the head.

Teddy: Damn! Lenny, you’re going to kill me!

Leonard: Yeah, you remember me.

He is also “unfamiliar” with Natalie in the photo. Although in the phone conversation of the black and white episode, he mentions her.

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When Leonard pins a liar cop against the wall, he immediately invents a story about a simulator-Sammy and Mrs. Shelby’s diabetes. With his emotional speech, he manages to sow doubts about the adequacy of the protagonist’s memories. So, a flashback flashes through Lenny’s head, in which he injects his wife. Upon regaining consciousness, Lenny realizes he is being fooled, and the actual memory tells of a pinch, not a prick.

It can also confuse the episode in which Sam sitting in the hospital chair, is replaced by Lenny. In the first case, he compares and understands the falsity of Teddy’s arguments; in the second, he compares himself with Sammy and finds a similarity. He knows Jenkins’ feelings, so the video sequence shows that he was literally in his place.

A person comes up, and you think you know each other and pretend to be. You’re bluffing to get a pat on the head from the doctors. Bluffing so as not to be a nerd! Leonard Shelby

In addition, there is the issue of photography. The detective tosses a photo of a jubilant, bloodied Lenny. But why doesn’t Leonard have a picture from previous meetings with Teddy? Maybe he stole it along with the pages of police reports.

Thus, I am inclined to the version that Teddy is an ordinary con man who took advantage of Leonard’s morbid condition.

Is the meaning of the movie “Memento”?

The film “Memento” manifests the law of equal retribution (lex talionis: an eye for an eye …). Driving the hero into hellish conditions, Nolan administers his justice. Leonard’s tragedy is an atonement for the Jenkins family. Teddy defined others as victims, but he became prey.

The attack on Shelby’s house is not the beginning of a new story but the end of an old one. The hero tries to fight the evil that has already happened and imagines that revenge will help get rid of the feeling of horror and pain. However, his thirst for revenge is a manifestation of complete helplessness. He flatters himself with a fantasy of his power (I will find and get even with the scoundrel), but this only aggravates his suffering. It takes time to come to terms with pain. But what if the hero is “out of time “? Will he be able to cope with this insoluble task?

In the last shots, in which the hero hugs his wife, the tattoo “I did it” (I’ve done it) appears on his chest, giving a positive answer. Yes, he can.

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