Saturday, November 6, 2010

The Legacy of Remember Me – Part Two

We are very excited to have Part 2 of Jessegirl's very insightful and touching article about the Legacy of Remember Me. This piece deals with the legacy that Remember Me leaves inside each of us individually.

-by jessegirl- November 2010

Remember Me delivers its gut-punch and then its flash-forward conclusion but the audience is left to deal with a welter of feelings and a jumble of thoughts. And, in the process of dealing, a number of things often happen. Taken together, these things are clear indicators that this little film will have a lasting impact. As I’ve said, legacy is that which remains. I believe that Remember Me has already found entry into the hearts, minds, souls, and memories of many of its viewers.

It touches us. We love it and it finds a place in the heart.
It provokes thought. We think about it and it finds a place in the mind.
It changes us. We go inside ourselves and it finds a place in the soul.
It stays with us. We remember it so it finds a place in the memory.

However, I must concede that for whatever reason some viewers don’t like it at all. With some, it is just a matter of taste. Fair enough. And some just don’t like sad endings. Okay. Others are offended by the ending. Some, like many critics initially, absolutely do not get it. They do not understand the whole grieving aspect of the film and, if they don’t understand that, they do not understand most of the characters’ actions. Some supporters think these detractors are uncomfortable with grief—accounting for their nervous laughter — or that they are jaded. Perhaps. But some of them are either wilfully obtuse and/or callous. Because it doesn’t take a genius to tap into Remember Me’s core, nor does it take a person who — like Remember Me’s characters — has been affected by grief. It takes an open-minded, sensitive, fairly intelligent person. That’s all. However, when speaking of all art, “the good ones don’t serve it up to you – you have to work for it” [Tedracat. IMDb: RP board “Re: People Who Criticize...”]. I’ve voiced this same sentiment in other articles myself.

So it should be understood that while Remember Me’s fingerprints don’t fade from the lives it touches”, it is obvious that it won’t touch people who lack sensitivity and open-mindedness. I invite those of you who have read both these articles to voice your opinion on what Remember Me’s legacy will be.

A Place in the Heart
The emotions are fully recruited when viewing this movie. However, apart from the shocking engagement of the opening subway scene, which puts them on high alert, the emotions come slowly, innocently, quietly, like that first scene which introduced viewers to Tyler. After the sweets shop scene though, we know the ride is no longer smooth. From there we become acquainted with all the characters’ feelings — e.g. Caroline’s hurt that her father doesn’t love her—and things become complicated pretty quickly.

Our feelings are brought into play subtly, via the actors’ natural performances. Viewers begin feeling with and FOR the characters, not just the protagonist, but also all those in Tyler’s world. This becomes emotionally taxing but I don’t think most viewers are aware of how draining it is until the end. It builds gradually, a myriad of feelings popping up, approaching and receding, colliding. It is all pretty manageable until the climax, and then all hell breaks loose.

When Tyler stands by that window, the flood begins. Nothing can be contained anymore. It is so stunning that some people stay, riveted, momentarily unable to move, to function, to breathe. And many, many people cry. From comments on various sites, blogs, message boards, this phenomenon is very common among men as well as women, teenage boys, middle-aged men. I have dealt with the powerful emotional experience which characterizes the immediate impact and which has a strong cathartic component. [Tragic in Remember Me]

So, boom, huge heart-rending sorrow.

Somehow, it is like the deepest part of you awakens, and all the pain which comes from loving has to be let out. The deepest part of you awakens. It’s like that. It’s a physical feeling. Your chest tightens. You cannot breathe. Tears start pouring down your cheeks. You close your eyes, your lashes wet. You squeeze your eyes shut but your chin trembles anyway. You bite your lips to keep the keening animal sound from escaping. You can barely contain this pain of loving and losing him. So you don’t. You let the pain out. The best and deepest part of you is awake. And so Remember Me has your heart in a vise grip.

Many people have expressed this awakening in different ways, every one of them trying to find the right words, as I have just now tried. Today, this comment was made on a fansite:

-“When I saw it in the theatres I felt like I had been kicked repeatedly in the chest, along with the symphony of sadness and angst and emotions I don’t even have names for because I had never felt them before....feeling lasted for of the most profound emotional and mental experiences I have ever had...” [Jill. ThinkingofRob. Oct. 27]. The deepest part of you awakens.

But not all the feelings are dissipated with a good cry. Some are residual because catharsis is not instant; it takes its time to work through you. It opens personal wounds and if you have enormous ones you have a bigger job coming to terms with it. Hence the overwhelming need to share stories of personal losses in the safe venue of an anonymous comment on a website, and to read experiences of others and know that you are not alone. There are so many of these stories and they make for illuminating reading, but one will suffice to highlight the depth, the intensity of emotion RM has the power to evoke. One viewer reports:

-“I saw a grown man (around 55 years old) standing outside the theatre with tears streaming down his face...[he said] ‘Tyler was my son that day. Tyler was my son that day.’...[She and her friends and this stranger sat in a café, shared silence] Tears all dried up, we began to share stories and the weight had lifted.” [alliecullen. Robsessed. RM spoiler post March 16]

How often does this emotionally-laden scenario occur after a movie screening? The tears, the support and discussion with strangers? In this particular way, Remember Me’s reception has been highly unusual. It’s astounding really. When reading this anecdote, I could hear the man’s anguished cry:
“Tyler was my son that day.” The deepest part of you awakens.

A Place in the Mind
That story illustrates how the intense emotion pushes forward a drive to understand what just happened because, despite the bittersweet requiem, the viewer is still in shock. When the numbness wears off people need to talk about it. They have a need to talk to others, to discuss, blog, comment, phone, tweet, email, use any method at their disposal.

Because Remember Me is such a multi-dimensional, layered film, because it leaves some things vague or not spelled out directly, it is a rich source for discussions on motivations of the characters, on back story, on what might happen next. It’s amazing what has been done already on this blog in the discussion comments and on forums and on some of the articles created from the controversy, and on Pattinson fan sites which put out ‘spoiler posts’ at that time.

Some of the discussions centered on the ending because controversy always generates discussion and even now debate and dissension continue. When Bryan Reesman submitted his article to Moviefone, he reported: “A topical Moviefone story can often pull in one or two dozen comments. Some have topped 100. This one reached 300 within 12 hours of being posted. At one point last night, I was literally receiving 78,000 views, easily making it the post of the night and landing it a top spot on AOL’s main page.” The Brevet and Bartyzel articles also, as I’ve stated before, attracted lots of substantive comments.

Right from the get-go this film has produced a lot of discussion and it hasn’t stopped. More than seven months after its release people are still commenting. At IMDb there are ‘newbies’ who have just watched the DVD and either comment on old threads or start new ones [e.g. ‘Oscar?’; ‘Extremely Underrated Film’; ‘The Critics were wrong about Remember Me’; ‘Some love for Remember Me’; and so on.] All kinds of people who gave it a pass before, now effuse about the film.

So an aspect of the film’s legacy is happening right now. I’m still writing. You’re still reading. Original viewers and new ones are still commenting. New discussion posts continue to appear. [“Remember Me script vs film’s ending” on ThinkingofRob, Oct. 27]

I can’t hope to cover the variety of discussion about this film. But it is intergenerational, with older people teaching younger ones about 9/11, with people expressing the view that Remember Me should be used as a teaching tool, be taught in high schools and universities, with students already writing essays about it, and with others sharing their stories of grief, loss, and problems.

It is also global, with people from other countries coming to understand the attack from a human perspective. This young man from Australia, who has just now discovered the film through the DVD says: “Not many films do this to me, and I am a big movie buff...But it blew me away...[the ending] invested me in these characters and gave me an understanding and emotion for the attacks that occurred...I now have...a connection, an investment in the tragedy...” This new enthusiast goes on and on. “Everyone did a brilliant job and this film is just remarkable, 10/10. Awards I hope because this film is wonderfully crafted...” [MadDogAbbey. IMDb: RM board. “Blew Me Away”. Nov. 4]

If you are one of those who have been profoundly affected by Remember Me, then the need to share is strong. You recommend the film to friends, relatives, co-workers, the clerk in the video store, or any random people if talk vaguely suggests a connection. You have to overcome obstacles of misunderstanding, misconceptions about ‘that vampire guy’, and a host of issues which are clamped around this film like a shell around the pearl. If you encounter dismissal and still continue, your efforts border on evangelism or ‘pimping’—as one supporter called it. Uh-oh. This is how normal word-of-mouth has become complicated for this film. When you realize this is becoming counter-productive, you stop. Then, much later, some of those who dismissed you see the DVD in the store, think ‘why not’, buy or rent it. Or they view through Netflix. All of a sudden message boards sport new posts called: ‘I was shocked how well done this was!’ New viewers want to share, all kinds of people who gave it a pass before. After Pattinson won the Teen Choice Award for Best Actor for Remember Me teens and tweens have finally decided to give it a chance, and are blown away, -for their own reasons.

By all definitive measures, Remember Me is not a sleeper hit yet though. Those complicating factors from pre-release to thorny word-of-mouth have plagued it all along, no matter how enthusiastic much of its audience has been. It’s not even on the nomination ballot for the poll-driven People’s Choice Awards, while all kinds of lesser titles clutter the ballot.

But the search for common bond by talking with others about Remember Me is a much greater legacy than any of the awards. People come at it from different experiences , some of loss and pain, the broken brave place, but all of them come from that same deep place in the heart. They reach out to talk to others. They can’t stop thinking about it and reach for meaning. Remember Me lets them know on this profound level that it is all right, that it is the reason we are all here. And that in the end, no matter how many words we use to find the meaning, it is the sharing that matters, not the words.

A Place in the Soul
We are more than physical, thinking, feeling beings. We are more than the sum of all these. Tyler leaves, others leave, but something of them is left behind because they were also something more. It’s weird but Pattinson’s statement about the film [to Talking Pictures TV] seems somehow appropriate here. “When you see clips they don’t make any sense outside the movie. It is such a kind of whole....” Remember Me is definitely more than the sum of its parts too.

Something else is at work here, an undefined force which binds with gossamer threads, which enters our souls. It gets past all our defences. And once it is there it never leaves. -“It’s a rare piece, in that it touches the soul of the audience like a good movie should.” [Milouette. IMDb. Re: The critics were wrong about Remember Me. Oct. 10]

Generally, people do not speak of films this way but if this were the essential criterion we used to judge a film’s worth, there would be a huge shake-up in film evaluation. This aspect is rare and most films, no matter how cleverly crafted and artistically or technically rendered, no matter how skilfully acted, do not have it. We can appreciate their excellence but they do not touch us deeply. They win awards, are on ‘best’ lists, but they lack this rare quality which is present in spades in Remember Me. Because compassion is ever present in the tone of Remember Me, it does have it.

Part of It is the ability to change lives, to aid in transformation. It is the ability to connect with the deepest part of ourselves, the part that will itself be left behind, that will be our own legacy.

I have reported on the ‘haunting’ quality of Remember Me before but must come back to it here because people are continuing to use this word repeatedly. There are posts named “Haunting” where newbies who have been introduced to the film by DVD, need to unload, to let others know, to gain assurance that they are not unusual. For example, “I saw it last week too and it’s still haunting me and I’m glad I’m not the only one!” [Bsloths. IMDb. RM post. Sept. 17] They do this partly, I think, because of the intensity of their reaction, and partly because it rarely happens when they watch movies. So they don’t know how to handle it. Then someone who saw the film months before informs them that they are far from alone, that many people feel this way. Sort of a “welcome to the club”.

When people talk about Remember Me haunting them or that it “had an amazing impact on my psyche” [ForRentWithMark. IMDb. Oct. 6] we all know it has gotten into the soul. That type of effect is hard to get rid of. It stays.

A Place in the Memory
When viewer say Remember Me stays with them, then it has taken up residence in their memories. I’ve shared comments like those below before; just realize there are many, many similar statements.

-“It stays with everybody who sees it. That is the mark of an exceptional film.” [Laurie. Robsessed ]

- “It’s rare for a movie to stay with me as long as RM has...its haunting me now (in a good way).” [Verlinda. Brevet]

- “I was profoundly moved by Remember Me – I can’t get it out of my head.” [Paula. Brevet]

-“If I’m still thinking about a movie the next day I consider it usually to be a good movie. I have been thinking about this one for the entire week.” [Cindy. Brevet]

And one image that sticks in everyone’s mind more than any other is Tyler standing at that window, just before the screen goes blank. It has become an iconic moment in the film; this article is not long enough to quote everyone who has mentioned it as something they cannot forget. The image is memorable because it is the moment when all realizations coalesce.

I like what this viewer said about that moment:
“Have you ever been in the vortex of a storm? Where it is so quiet and calm and perfectly still? That’s how I feel when Tyler was standing by the window. So eerie and nerve-wracking.” [shufflebin. Robsessed- Bartyzel post]

Tyler was ‘quiet and calm and perfectly still’. He was at the still point, the centre, and at that moment it was made clear to all that that centre would be forcibly removed. That in itself would be enough to make it stay with viewers. But of course it was so much more than the protagonist’s life. It was September 11th, and all that that implies. So 9/11 was part of the realization that something evil would fly in to take away Tyler and so many others. All of this was fused together, inseparable.

This one unforgettable, emblematic moment and the silence which follows is flanked by Zarvos’ score, the montage of Tyler’s last morning before and the montage of his loved ones after. And the music adheres in its own way to the silences. The music ties everything to the memory. And, likes all good music, when we hear it again, it harkens back to its source, to the film. Music is perhaps second only to scent in its ability to evoke memories.

One of Remember Me’s legacies is as a touchstone to remember 9/11, but with a perspective that has humanized the tragedy. That is the key difference between it and any other 9/11 films. Seen through the lens of this fictional character’s life, the terrible significance of the event is brought home, making it both more real and more personal. By doing that, Remember Me has become an effective way to keep 9/11 in the memory of contemporaries, to ensure that those too young to remember will know, and to bring it into the future. Lest we forget.

To explain Remember Me’s reception, some have called it a movie before its time. However, its universality as a human tragedy and its bond to a national tragedy makes its relevance both timely and timeless.

Remember Me’s true legacy goes beyond the tangible measurements I talked about in part one of this piece. Nice as the other forms of recognition are, I hope those who made this film realize that they have accomplished what really matters. Remember Me touches us. It provokes thought. It changes us. And it stays with us. Heart, mind, soul, memory. How many other films have done that, -can do that?


Sources for comments and quotes:

Ropes of
“Reacting to Remember Me: an Interview with Screenwriter Will Fetters”, by Brad Brevet. March 16, 2010.

Comments from the site:
about the Bartyzel post.[“Post-Movie Coffee: Remember Me”, by Monika Bartyzel. March19, 2010. “Post-Movie Coffee: Remember Me”, by Monika Bartyzel]
and various ‘Spoiler Posts’ about Remember Me, dated March 12, 13, 14, 16, and April 2, 5th. (The comments for this film in these posts on this huge and popular fansite were notable for their intelligence, insight, perception, thoughtfulness, as well as their passion. These particular posts should not be dismissed.)

Attention Deficit“Remember Me: Stirring up Controversy and Emotions”. March 16, 2010. In the quote he is referring to his article: by Bryan Reesman. March 15, 2010.

“Remember Me script vs Film’s Ending” Oct. 27, 2010. Thinking of

Comments on:
Remember Me at
Robert Pattinson at


Anonymous said...

RM was a gut-wrenching experience for me (in a good way)bc 9/11 was a scary day for me and my mom. We were both out of town at a conference. She was in a classroom & I was at the hotel. Woke up turned the tv on and watched the second plane go thru the 2nd tower. TV was on mute I put volume on & could not believe what I was seeing or hearing. My heart started to race bc my sister worked in tower 5, but one day a week she's in tower two. I could not remember which day. I started to panic. I tried to call her, but nothing. Every phone I tried gave a busy signal. I could not decide if I should interrupt my mom's class or wait for them to come out. Finally went downstairs and everybody was in the lobby. My mom was already crying. I tried to tell her we don't know anything yet. Let's think positive. We packed and drove home. We know we could not enter the city bc it was blocked off. My mom lived in the suburb 1hr away. We got home & tried everyone we know, but no contact. So we knew we just had to wait like everyone else. To make a long story short during all the chaos i.e building crashing, dust, fire, smoke (what killed us as we watched the images on tv was that she sufered from asthma & we wondered even if she made it out, how is she going to breathe?What if she lost her inhaler?) someone found her. She'd fallen & some people helped her and brought her to a hospital. Someone picked her up for us a day later bc we still had to access to the city. Needless to say she was traumatized for a long long time. RM's legacy for me was not to take your family and life for granted. You never know what's going to happen. We were lucky. Why? I have no idea.

imloco2 said...

Thanks Jessiegirl for another brilliant article on Remember Me. It's still to this day hard for me to realize that there are people that are just incapable of getting it. That don't see or hear or feel what I do so clearly. But I can't believe I'm so far off the mark and making a mediocre film into a great one. I've never seen reactions from an audience like I saw and experienced watching Remember Me in the theater. It really is something special. I wish more would give it a try, but I guess it just takes time. Hopefully one day it will get the recognition is deserves. In the meantime we'll keep spreading the word.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Jessigirl, I dont usually comment but I come to this this every second day to read the discussions and of course your wonderful articles.
Thank you for the wonderful work

Anonymous said...

I still feel the film would be getting award buzz right now if it had been made by a different studio that didn't go out of their way to change the script, downgrade the emotional impact of the love story, and totally screwed up its promotion. (Don't even pretend you don't know they did all that because of Twilight) That script was awesome. I had a bad feeling when it was picked up by Summit and I was right about everything. I'm just glad they have nothing to do with Bel Ami and Water for Elephants.

ps I'm still waiting for the deleted Rob & Emily scenes Summit. I know you're going to give 50 million Rob and Kstew deleted scenes of Eclipse.

jessegirl said...

To anonymous [Nov.8]: Thank you for sharing your story. It must have been so harrowing, not knowing about your sister. What a day!

imloco2...thx for your continued appreciation! I might not write many more pieces--interest by people is flagging, and the few comments are testament to that. You know the comments keep me going. I mean, the articles come to me in an organic way, are not forced at all, but when responses in the form of comments stop, I don't know who I'm talking to anymore.

To anonymous [Nov. 11]...thanks. As you can tell, comments are the lifeblood. So, go for it anytime.

To anonymous [Nov. 13]...I really don't know the answer regarding the studio...but I think the lack of award buzz has nothing to do with that....let's agree to disagree. Bottom line for me is that a fine film is not getting the recognition it deserves, for whatever reasons--some of which I've speculated on elsewhere--and that's a crying shame.

solas said...

Thanks once again, Jessegirl, for a wonderful piece. I love how you structured heart, mind, soul, and memory--so well done!

This film spoke to me in so many ways that I could not even detail here, but I will tell you that I am a survivor of terror attacks large and small, personal and national, and I have seen body parts rain upon and around me and touched my own limbs to see if they were there, as if I were seeing parts of myself falling and wondering if I too had been blown to pieces. I have sat and wondered, in the numbness and post-trauma, about each individual to whom these body parts had belonged. Who was the woman whose high-heeled leg landed on teh windshiled next to me? Was she out shopping? Was she married? Had she any children? Did she create any writing or artwork to leave behind? Did she kiss her family goodbye that morning? I have somehow survived and have sat and wondered in the aftermath, who would remember ME, and how, if I had not survived?
This film expressed my inner struggles and concerns and brought them to the world.
I do wonder to what extent survivors of tragedy simply 'got it' more than others, or if anyone intelligent and sensitive enough could, especially after the 9-11 attacks, feel enough of a survivor to relate and comprehend.
Thanks again for being, like the film, thought-probing and provoking.

WhyIstheRumAlwaysGone said...

RM finds its place in the heart, in the mind, in the soul, and in the memory... what more can I say jessegirl? How could I phrase it more perfectly? I love this article, thoughtful and deep and so clever, it seems to embrace everything, every possible reaction to RM. I'm particularly touched by the paragraph about the heart, and by the story of strangers sharing stories after viewing the movie in theaters, because I've had this experience, and I can guarantee you, as a very frequent movie-goer, seeing all kinds of movies in all possible gernes, that this has never happened to me in all my years of movie-going!
I personally, will carry this movie forever in my heart, in my soul ,and in my mind; I may not think of it so often nowadays as I did the first year of its release, but it is still always with me, and it has certainly made me change. I t has touched my heart, and its fingerprints will never fade.

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