Douglas Bruce finds himself one day riding the subway in New York without knowing where he is going. In fact, he doesn’t know where he is, he doesn’t recognize any of the buildings. Panic sets in once he realizes he doesn’t know where he took the train, or even his own name. Doug suffers total amnesia, a rare condition in which one forgets everything about one’s life. Well, this is not exactly true: He knows how to talk, and when in the hospital someone asks him to sign, he remembers his signature. This strange and fascinating condition is explored in this documentary that uses footage shot by Doug himself and directed by his (former) friend Rupert Murray.

I found the documentary quite interesting, but I also found it wanting in several respects. Part of it may be due to the simple fact that we still know very little about how memory works, so surprisingly little time is devoted to hard data, to what may be happening—as for why it is happening, nobody knows. Some hypotheses are mentioned, and as the story progresses we get some clues. But part of the problem with the story I think is due to what I perceive as a shortcoming of the director: There are questions that do not get asked, some that beg to be asked, and why they are not seems to be because everybody is so fascinated by what is happening that they assume that filming it is enough. Part of it I think is due to the friendship between Doug and Mr. Murray. Mr. Murray seems to go out of his way to make Doug feel comfortable, while obviously the subject matter may make him uncomfortable. So, at the end of the day, I find the final product a bit awkward. There are a few extras in the DVD that leave me feeling the same (at least there is consistency); I missed (being in Vienna) the controversy on the veracity of the story, so the short section addressing it didn’t mean much to me. There is a long section explaining how a sequence was shot. I found it very curious that the director put so much thought into the visual look of the final product instead of trying to add a bit more substance to it.

I like explorations of memory, and mental problems intrigue me to no end. So this was a good movie overall. It complements well other documentaries in similar subjects, like anterograde amnesia, the disease that Memento popularized. I had the fortune of watching in 2004 an excellent documentary by Koreeda Hirokazu about one such case in Japan, Without memory.

Advertisements

Like this:

LikeLoading...

Related

This entry was posted on Thursday, January 25th, 2007 at 11:06 pm and is filed under Documentaries. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.
You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

I am not sure which statement you heard as the "Ultimate $L$ axiom," but I will assume it is the following version: There is a proper class of Woodin cardinals, and for all sentences $\varphi$ that hold in $V$, there is a universally Baire set $A\subseteq{\mathbb R}$ such that, letting $\theta=\Theta^{L(A,{\mathbb R})}$, we have that $HOD^{L(A,{\ma […]

A Wadge initial segment (of $\mathcal P(\mathbb R)$) is a subset $\Gamma$ of $\mathcal P(\mathbb R)$ such that whenever $A\in\Gamma$ and $B\le_W A$, where $\le_W$ denotes Wadge reducibility, then $B\in\Gamma$. Note that if $\Gamma\subseteq\mathcal P(\mathbb R)$ and $L(\Gamma,\mathbb R)\models \Gamma=\mathcal P(\mathbb R)$, then $\Gamma$ is a Wadge initial se […]

Craig: For a while, there was some research on improving bounds on the number of variables or degree of unsolvable Diophantine equations. Unfortunately, I never got around to cataloging the known results in any systematic way, so all I can offer is some pointers to relevant references, but I am not sure of what the current records are. Perhaps the first pape […]

Yes. Consider, for instance, Conway's base 13 function $c$, or any function that is everywhere discontinuous and has range $\mathbb R$ in every interval. Pick continuous bijections $f_n:\mathbb R\to(-1/n,1/n)$ for $n\in\mathbb N^+$. Pick a strictly decreasing sequence $(x_n)_{n\ge1}$ converging to $0$. Define $f$ by setting $f(x)=0$ if $x=0$ or $\pm x_n […]

(1) Patrick Dehornoy gave a nice talk at the Séminaire Bourbaki explaining Hugh Woodin's approach. It omits many technical details, so you may want to look at it before looking again at the Notices papers. I think looking at those slides and then at the Notices articles gives a reasonable picture of what the approach is and what kind of problems remain […]

I feel this question may be a duplicate, because I am pretty certain I first saw the paper I mention below in an answer here. You may be interested in reading the following: MR2141502 (2006c:68092) Reviewed. Calude, Cristian S.(NZ-AUCK-C); Jürgensen, Helmut(3-WON-C). Is complexity a source of incompleteness? (English summary), Adv. in Appl. Math. 35 (2005), […]

The smallest such ordinal is $0$ because you defined your rank (height) inappropriately (only successor ordinals are possible). You want to define the rank of a node without successors as $0$, and of a node $a$ with successors as the supremum of the set $\{\alpha+1\mid\alpha$ is the rank of an immediate successor of $a\}$. With this modification, the smalles […]

The perfect reference for this is MR2562557 (2010j:03061) Reviewed. Steel, J. R.(1-CA). The derived model theorem. In Logic Colloquium 2006. Proceedings of Annual European Conference on Logic of the Association for Symbolic Logic held at the Radboud University, Nijmegen, July 27–August 2, 2006, S. B. Cooper, H. Geuvers, A. Pillay and J. Väänänen, eds., Lectu […]

Consider $A=\{(x,y)\in\mathbb R^2\mid x\notin L[y]\}$. Check that this set is $\Pi^1_2$ (this is similar to the proof that there is a $\Delta^1_2$ well-ordering in $L$). The point is that $A$ does not admit a projective uniformization. It does not really matter that the number of Cohen reals you added is $\aleph_2$; any uncountable number would work. The rea […]