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I was thinking about character quirks – the things that make a character unique and interesting.  It occurred to me that there are some pretty obvious examples of those quirks being central to the story line, and also linked to brain damage.

50 First Dates

The main character in this film is a young woman who has been in an accident.  She now has anterograde amnesia, which means that she can’t form new memories.  Every night she goes to sleep and wakes up the next morning thinking it’s the morning of her accident.  It’s a romantic comedy, so as you can imagine the male lead goes to some interesting lengths in order to win her heart!


This one is anterograde amnesia again.  This time, the amnesia affects not just the story but the presentation of it, with some of the scenes not occurring in chronological order.  My personal favourite is the scene that starts with a chase through a car park.  The voice-over (from the main character) goes something like this:

“I’m running.  Why am I running?  Am I chasing that guy?”

The other man shoots at him.

“No, he’s chasing me!”

Regarding Henry

I haven’t seen this one, but the plot summaries on the interwebs look interesting.  Harrison Ford is a mean, unethical lawyer, who gets shot in the head during a robbery.  He gets retrograde amnesia, meaning he can’t remember anything that happened in his life until that point.

He has to get to know his family all over again, and realises he doesn’t like the person he used to be.  It’s a film about second chances.


Sufferers of prosopagnosia can’t recognise people from their faces, but usually have no problem with other items.  A person suffering from this problem would not be able to tell the difference between their own children, for example, or between their best friend and a spy from a foreign nation.

The film is about a man who witnesses a murder, but can’t identify the murderer because he suffers from the condition.  To make matters worse, he is the key suspect in the murder!

Again, I’ve not seen it, but I wanted to include a film that wasn’t about memory loss, since that seems to be the main way brain damage enters into films.


Most films that involve brain damage seem to focus on memory loss of one kind or another.  Other types of brain damage seem to result in obscure films which I haven’t heard of… although that’s not really saying much, since I’m more of a book person.

What films can you think of to either bolster or destroy my theory?  Are there other types of brain damage which would make a good plot?

The Author

Nicola Higgins is a 30-something martial artist who runs two Brownie packs and works full time. She somehow still finds time to write.

Her favourite genres are near-future and alternate world science fiction and fantasy.

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