Watch Christopher Nolan Explain The Structure Of 'Memento'

Memento wasn't Christopher Nolan's first film, but it was the film that put him on the map. In a vintage interview, Nolan breaks out the chalkboard to break down the complex narrative structure of Memento.

Christopher Nolan Memento Video

Just in case you need a refresher, Memento is Christopher Nolan's 2001 mystery film starring Guy Pearce. Pearce plays a man trying to find the murderer who killed his wife. Sounds pretty cut and dry, right? Were Memento told in a more traditional fashion, it might be. But Nolan cleverly tells the story in reverse – we start at the end of the story, and work our way back. In the process, more and more surprises are revealed about Pearce's character, and we begin to realize that he's not the most reliable of narrators.

The film isn't that complex when you start to really think about it, but at the time it was released, many audiences were blown-away by Nolan's non-traditional storytelling methods. With that in mind, Nolan recorded this video interview in which he takes time to explain his approach to the film.

I wish more filmmakers would do stuff like this. It's worth noting that this video was recorded early in Nolan's career, and it's hard to picture him taking the time to do something akin to this for his bigger movies. Still, this video provides a fascinating glimpse into Nolan's process. He breaks down both the complex backwards narrative of the film, and also his approach to filming the story.

Then, in true nerdy professor style, Nolan turns to a blackboard and tries to draw out the story. "The best way to draw it is as a hairpin," Nolan says, drawing a loop that circles back on itself. From there, he examines the structure, and the film's blend of black and white scenes and color. Even if you've already seen Memento a dozen or so times, this video is a really engrossing look at how Nolan works, and how he sets about crafting a story.

"There's this weird irony, because you actually find yourself as a filmmaker in the position of the protagonist that has to trust these notes he's written himself," Nolan said in the past. "It sounds a bit trite, but it's really true. I watch the screen and think, okay I read the script three years ago and it seemed like a good idea at the time. But it's like you really are, at a certain point, you're so immersed in the material. You're just having to trust yourself. You have so many points along the way where the film stops being real and you just have to say: this is what I'm making, this is what I'm doing and switch that half of your brain off and absolutely trust your initial instincts, your editor, your actor's instincts and your own instincts about whether you're getting what you want. The weird thing is you go through these torturous creative machinations and then you look back at the original script and it's pretty, pretty close to what's on the screen. It's almost exactly the same. You say, 'Thank God, how did that wind up like that?'"