A hand shakes a Polaroid as it "reverse develops," moments before an ejected shell casing re-enters the gun it was fired from -- the bullet coming back out of the screaming man it was fired into.
As opening scenes go, you don't get much better than "Memento," Christopher Nolan's gripping film. And, as features go, few are as scary-good as this one. A thriller about memory, reality and, um, tattoos, "Memento's" twisty plot more than holds up 15 years later. Some would say it's "The Dark Knight" director's best film.
Forget the pending remake that has everyone crying "too soon;" in honor of the film's 15th anniversary this week, here are 15 things you never knew about this modern classic.
1. The brothers Nolan -- Christopher (pictured) and Jonathan -- came up with the idea for the film while on a 2000 mile road trip, driving from Chicago to Los Angeles.
2. The final film was based on Jonah's short story, "Memento Mori," which was published after the movie.
3. Every major studio passed on the film.
4. Before Guy Pearce secured the role of Leonard, Brad Pitt, Aaron Eckhart, and Thomas Jane were considered for the role.
5. Nolan's first choice for the role of Leonard? Alec Baldwin.
6. While the opening scene plays in reverse, the only sound effect that is played backwards is Teddy (Joe Pantoliano, above) screaming "No."
7. During his audition to play the memorable character of Sammy, Stephen Tobolowsky had mentioned to the director that he had once experienced amnesia as a result of taking an experimental pain killer following surgery. Tobolowsky said his experience may have helped earn him the role.
8. Two actors in the film would go on to have roles in Nolan's "Batman Begins:" Mark Boone Junior and the late Larry Holden. The former played Leonard's seedy motel clerk before playing corrupt GCPD cop Flass; the latter played Jimmy in "Memento" before being cast as Finch, Gotham's District Attorney. (Holden also had a small role in Nolan's 2002 thriller, "Insomnia.")
9. Fans of the film, if they pay attention, might be able to hear Christopher Nolan's voice in a key scene. During Teddy's line, "You don't have a clue, you freak!" Nolan felt that Pantoliano did not quite deliver the last two words of the line in the way he had envisioned. So it's Nolan's voice on the final film saying "you freak." (Rather, Nolan doing an impersonation of Pantoliano's voice. The actor was unaware of the dub, until an interview for "Anatomy of a Scene: 'Memento.'"
10. For the role of the duplicitous Natalie, actor Mary McCormack lobbied hard for the part before filmmakers ultimately when with Carrie Anne-Moss (above), who was hot off "The Matrix" at the time. On casting Moss, Nolan said she "added an enormous amount to the role of Natalie that wasn't on the page."
11. On the Limited Edition DVD release, users had to solve a complicated series of questions on the DVD menu to unlock a version of the film's events edited in chronological order.
12. The film took an insanely-fast 25 days to shoot. And according to the director, Moss shot her entire role in eight days.
13. When taking "Memento" to Sundance, production company Newmarket also acquired "Donnie Darko" -- linking the destinies of two indie (and cult-y) films.
14. See that white Honda Civic parked next to Leonard's Jaguar at the hotel? That's Christopher Nolan's car at the time of production.
15. Upon its initial release, "Memento" made back five times its production budget. Few films can claim that level of profitability outside low-budget, Blumhouse-type horror features.