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1hr 53mins // directed by:Christopher Nolan // featuring:Guy Pierce, Joe Pantoliano, Carrie Ann Moss

Before directing The Dark Knight and Inception, Christopher Nolan made his mark with this indie sleeper hit, a neo-noir tour de force that’s “like an existential crossword puzzle, or a pungent 50's B-thriller with a script by Jorge Luis Borges.” (The New York Times)

Told in reverse chronological order, Memento follows former insurance investigator Leonard Shelby (Guy Pearce) as he doggedly searches for his wife’s murderer despite his own severe memory loss. Leonard suffers from anterograde amnesia, a condition that makes it impossible for him to form new memories. Incapable of remembering anything for more than a few minutes, he relies on an elaborate system of notes, Polaroid snapshots and crucial facts tattooed on his body to remind himself where he is, what he’s found out, and what he should do next. Aiding him in his search for his wife’s killer – or perhaps using his unreliable memory for their own ends – are a cheerful and ubiquitous fellow named Teddy (Joe Pantoliano) and Natalie (Carrie-Anne Moss), a beautiful bartender. As the story of Leonard’s investigation unfolds backwards, each scene revealing new bits of information, an alternating narrative, involving an insurance claimant (Stephen Toblowsky) from Leonard’s past, moves forward, adding new layers of complexity and intrigue to one of the great mindbenders in cinema.

Neuroscientist John Gabrieli joins us before the film to discuss how memory works, its depiction in the film, and a real-world case of anterograde amnesia. As a graduate student at MIT, Gabrieli was among a select group of scientists invited to study Henry Molaison, who lived with anterograde amnesia for over 50 years after having his hippocampus removed at age 27 to prevent epileptic seizures. Known in his lifetime only as HM, Molaison is perhaps the most famous patient in the history of neurology and reputed to be the inspiration for Memento. He died in 2008, having provided groundbreaking insights into the basis of human memory.

About the Speaker

John Gabrieli's goal is to understand the organization of memory, thought, and emotion in the human brain. By combining brain imaging with behavioral tests, he studies the neural basis of these abilities in human subjects. In collaboration with clinical colleagues, Gabrieli also seeks to understand the brain abnormalities that underlie neurological and psychiatric disease.

Gabrieli is the director of the Athinoula A. Martinos Imaging Center at the McGovern Institute for Brain Research at MIT, where he is also an Investigator. Gabrieli has faculty appointments in the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences and the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology, where is holds the Grover Hermann Professorship. He also co-directs the MIT Clinical Research Center and is Associate Director of the Athinoula A. Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging, MGH/MIT, located at Massachusetts General Hospital. For more about his research, visit . For more about his research, visit