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Film Memento Explores Lost Identity

In the movie Memento, Leonard Shelby tries to track down his wife's killer. Complicating the search is the fact that as a result of a blow to the head by the murderer, Leonard suffers from anterograde amnesia, a condition that makes it impossible for him to remember anything new for more than a few minutes.

To cope with his amnesia, Leonard creates a complicated system of notes, Polaroid photos, and tattoos to remember facts and string together evidence to find his wife's killer and exact revenge. Unfortunately, several shady characters try to manipulate Leonard's condition for their own gain. Using his amnesia against him, they tell him lies about his past, who he is, and their intentions for him.

As the movie progresses, doubt is cast on Leonard's version of the story, and you begin to wonder if the Leonard the movie portrays is really the true Leonard.

In one important scene, Teddy, Leonard's crooked "friend," says to him, "You don't know who you are anymore."

"Of course I do," Leonard responds. "I'm Leonard Shelby. I'm from San Francisco."

"No, that's who you were," Teddy says. "Maybe it's time you started investigating yourself."

What follows is a series of revelations about Leonard that cause him to question the identity he's built for himself. He then suffers a severe identity crisis that leads to the movie's shocking ending—all because he can't remember who he is.

Preaching Angle: (1) Identity in Christ, Self-worth, Identity in Christ—Mark Driscoll comments, "As Christians, we're a lot like Leonard. We have a condition. We're continually forgetting who we are in Christ and filling that void by placing our identity in pretty much anything else." (2) Church, Mission of—as the church we can also forget who we are, we can forget our identity in Christ and our mission to the world.

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