Memento: 10th Anniversary Special Edition Blu-ray Review
Memento comes to UK Region B-locked Blu-ray with a superb 1080p High Definition video presentation in the movie’s original theatrical aspect ratio of widescreen 2.35:1. It’s a title which has been plagued by issues on several of its numerous releases over the years and across the formats, and it looks like they only appear to correct the faults second time round – whether it be on SD-DVD, when the limited edition edged out the earlier release, or now on Blu-ray, where the title was originally released in the US with a fairly problematic presentation that was plagued by softness and unacceptable noise problems, and where it now gets a re-release (and a debut release in the UK) with what looks to be a new transfer, and certainly what proves to be a vastly improved rendition.
Detail is generally great throughout, softness much less of an issue – if at all – and many sequences displaying a nice level of depth which goes some way towards correcting previous problems. The colour scheme is very well observed, with decent saturation, tonal representation, and solid blacks to round out the end of the spectrum. The movie carries a suitably filmic layer of grain, with the black and white sequences wielding a heavier layering, again wholly intentional to add to the grittier dream-like feel that they have been given. Overall, with no troublesome digital defects and artifacts (yeah, there are still a few issues, but they are negligible), this is a vast improvement over the previous Blu-ray release, and demo-quality to boot.
To accompany the superior visual representation this Blu-ray re-release comes sporting a superior DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which also appears to be a considerable step up over the previous edition’s uncompressed PCM accompaniment. Dialogue – from the screams and shouts, to the almost internal monologue-style black-and-white segment musings – comes across clearly and coherently throughout, largely dominating the frontal array wherever appropriate. Effects are fairly limited – the odd gunshot, or tyre screech – but they offer up a remarkable precision at all times, separated across the array to create some decent dynamics, and to give the surrounds and even the rears something to do other than twiddle their thumbs. The score, a haunting, broody effort in the echoing the Lynchian feel of the production, cleverly alternates between the colour and the black and white segments, and is given great presentation across the array. The LFE quotient is also significant, and certainly adds a fair amount of presence to some of the more significant scenes, and overall it’s a fairly punchy, always solid, just-shy-of-demo quality affair.
This is the most obvious area of improvement with regards to this Blu-ray re-release, as the first (US-only) edition omitted almost all of the extras which could be previously found on the special edition SD-DVD release. Here they finally get reinstated, and we even get a couple of items that didn’t adorn the US 10th Anniversary Special Edition Blu-ray, including the funky option to play the movie in chronological order. Now some people found that this facility was an unnecessary gimmick, and others found that it even ruined the effect of the movie, basically playing it straight so that you had nothing left to figure out; but I think it’s still nice that they at least incorporated it as an option, and give viewers the choice.
The Beginning of the End allows viewers the opportunity to watch the movie in chronological order, and is presented as a hidden feature on the disc. In order to access it, you have to start playing the movie proper, then activate the pop-up menu, select the extra features, go to the second page (by pressing ‘next’) and then highlight the extra entitled ‘tattoo gallery’. If you press left on your remote, the movie should start playing automatically in chronological order. Unfortunately the feature is only presented in SD format, but it’s still great to check out if you’re interested in having the movie play out in its ‘corrected’ order.
First up we get a full-length audio commentary by writer/director Christopher Nolan whose soft-spoken, very mumbling approach to narration totally ruins this potentially interesting offering. Even cranking the volume up doesn’t work, as you’re left with massive pauses in the commentary where the movie in the background plays out far too loud. There is some background to be gleaned, and he will explain stuff like the ‘missing’ “I did it” tattoo, but I’m not sure you couldn’t just watch all of the rest of the extra material and gain just as much insight. There is also this ‘alternate endings’ feature which basically means that there are three different versions of the end of Nolan’s commentary. The trouble is that they are chosen randomly when you select to play the commentary, so accessing each ending can be a little annoying and repetitive (and, in the end, fairly pointless).
Anatomy of a Scene is a 25-minute documentary which offers viewers an overview of the production, with cast and crew interview excerpts where the subject matter is discussed, as well as a detailed look at the opening sequence, and the work that was put into the striking reverse-played shot.
IFC Interview with Christopher Nolan presents 23 minutes of interview footage with the director/writer, taken from around the time of the movie’s original release – some ten years ago now. He covers a broad range of topics, discussing amnesia, his personal feelings about memory and memory issues, the formation of the story, the production itself, the themes and style used, and the reception of his work, including his earlier debut feature, Following. Overall, despite a marginally odd interviewer, who doesn’t pose the most interesting questions, or prompt Nolan in any particular direction, this is arguably a more interesting offering than the somewhat slow commentary, and is rounded out by a series of quality audience questions.
Interview with Guy Pearce offers us a further 12 minutes with the movie’s star, Guy Pearce, again from around the release period of the film. Here Pearce gets to chat about what drew him to the story, the themes that most interested him, the issues of memory loss, and the more intriguing aspects of the character that he played. Worth checking out.
Split Screen Shooting Script allows you to watch the entire movie (played in very poor quality in the corner of the screen) whilst reading the note-ridden script that they worked with. It’s worth dipping in and out of, just to get a feel for how closely they stuck to the original framework.
Original “Memento Mori” Short Story by Jonathan Nolan comes in partial text-based form, but is basically narrated by its author, Christopher Nolan’s brother Jonathan. Lasting some 34 minutes, the biggest problem is Jonathan’s somewhat mumbling manner of speech, which never breathes life into what is an intriguing extra. Still, it’s worth persevering, just to note the numerous similarities and differences between this and the actual story to Memento. Taking place largely in a mental asylum, his story – chronologically told – definitely has merits of its own, and it is interesting that it was never directly adapted into a short film itself.
Production Stills and Sketches gives us a selection of fairly poor-quality photos taken from during the production, as well as some shooting sketches.
Props Gallery affords us a closer look at many of the items Leonard carries about with him – from his wall-map to his motel room keys, to his Polaroid photos.
International Poster Art gives us a glimpse at the different film posters and promotional artwork created for the movie.
Concept Art and Bootleg Cover Art offers the same thing for the artwork that was never finally used, including some imaginative alternates to the picture-within-a-picture-within-a-picture poster.
Leonard’s Journal gives us text-based samples from the massive diary that the lead character keeps. Unfortunately some of it’s pretty hard to read, and I can’t imagine any but the most dedicated ‘fans’ (i.e. obsessives) would want to trawl through this.
Tattoo Sketches includes renditions of the various reminders that the lead character has tattooed all over his body.
International Trailer rounds off the disc.
Acclaimed auteur Christopher Nolan’s sophomore directorial effort, Memento, celebrated its 10th Anniversary at the end of last year with its UK debut Blu-ray release. The landmark film implements skilful non-linear narrative stylisation as a means to get you into the mind of the story’s protagonist, a sufferer of anterograde amnesia – a man unable to formulate new long-term memories. Slowly revealing the truth behind this man’s sympathetic plight, Nolan takes us on a dark and mysterious journey, blending themes of revenge, regret and loss; whilst playing with both illusion and reality, and memory and time itself.
On Region B-locked UK Blu-ray we get fantastic video, quality audio, and a wealth of extras which includes just about everything found on the previous special edition SD-DVD releases. If you’re a fan and you haven’t picked up any edition of it yet, then this is the one to get – and if you got your hands on the original US Blu-ray release then you should consider the improved tech specs and complete set of extras reason enough to upgrade. And for those who haven’t seen this modern classic – or perhaps have somehow forgotten how great it is – then now’s the time to jog your memory. Highly recommended.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £19.99
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