16. Nostalgia & Memory

Memory is a funny thing. I’ve noticed my own memory failing at an alarming rate – I once prided myself on my photographic memory, yet now I’m unsure of many things. How many things do we “remember” because we were told of the event, or that we have altered extensively to suit our own narratives or egos? Memory is famously unreliable, especially terrible in criminal cases as testimony, yet we still rely on this imperfect storage system for many things. This week we look at how film – a theoretically perfect medium for storage – dissects memory, and nostalgia in particular. Photographs lie (a common refrain from my Photography class), and films, as a collection of photographs, lie even more completely and beautifully. You’ll see this borne out in Atonement, which plays with time, causality, and reality within a love story. Millennium Actress directly confronts the unreliability of memory within one actress reliving her life through her films as her story weaves in and out of reality. Rashomon establishes the unreliability of eyewitness accounts, as the same story is retold from four contradicting viewpoints. From nostalgia, Cape No. 7 in many ways re-imagines a gentler past of Japanese colonialism through the story of two love stories from different eras. My Girl lays the nostalgia on thick with a tale of youth told with period music. Finally, Tokyo Story unites both themes with the clash of generations on ideas of proper behaviour and a different kind of “forgetting”. Enjoy this penultimate week!

One thought on “16. Nostalgia & Memory

  1. I watched Atonement and I absolutely loved it. I love how they replayed a couple scenes twice, once showing it from Briony’s perspective and then showing what really happened. When she states what she witnessed (as an unreliable thirteen girl) she lies and ends up ruining the lives of Robbie and her sister Cecilia as well. When she us younger you get the sort of idea that she is an unreliable narrator, and in the ending scene (spoiler alert!) where you find out that the whole movie was a novel she had written, she even lies about the ending, but in doing that she is giving Cecilia and Robbie the happy ending they deserved. I liked how you thought the ending was how it was but then you see the old version of Briony in an interview (so meta!) explaining the irony of her lying and telling the truth. I’d also like to point out how much I loved how they incorporated the type writer’s clicks into the music. (The typewriter is how you know the whole movie is a novel being written).

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