Point 14

Mise en scene for  Memento (2000)

The scene I decided to analyze is about an hour into the movie when Sammy Jenkin’s wife meets Leonard at his office. I thought this scene had some interesting shots and mis-en-scene.

The scene with Mrs. Jenkins is flanked on both sides with scenes of Leonard on the phone with the mystery caller we later assume is Teddy.  As the scene begins, Leonard’s voice over is more prominent than the dialogue between Mrs. Jenkins and Leonard. This ensures that the viewer understands that Leonard is relaying the story to the caller, not simply remembering it for the sake of remembering it.

The cinematography and mise-en-scene is relatively important.

The shots are short and follow the conversation between the two characters.

The scene opens in a medium close-up which establishes the setting and the characters location in relationship to each other.

The characters sit on opposite sides of the desk. The camera is behind Leonard and the objects on the desk show that Leonard is in the position of power. It is his desk. The computer and phone are relatively old looking. On Leonard’s computer is a note or reminder, which suggests that even then his memory was not perfectly reliable and that this use of notes would later transfer into his new life. On the back wall is a diploma, which suggests that Leonard has a professional degree.

After these initial shots, the rest of the shots are shallow-focused close-ups. The objects in the room are no longer relevant. The shots of Mrs. Jenkins seem a bit less centered, with a heavy amount of blurry objects on the table in the back ground. If what Teddy says at the end of the film (beginning of the narrative) is true, this part of Leonard’s memory must be fabricated or blended from some other memory because Mrs Jenkins would really be a stand in for his dead wife. The mis-en-scene is so nondescript that it could be easily fabricated. Is this scene real or a fabrication?


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