Hollywood Amnesia

The scene opens with a grainy black-and-white wide-angle shot of a nondescript ramshackle motel. The wind picks up, raising a cloud of dust and sending tumbleweed careening across the parking lot. Cut to an interior shot of one of the rooms. A middle-aged man with three days of beard stubble gazes into the bathroom mirror, rubbing a bruise on his forehead. The man's thoughts are heard in a voiceover: "Where am I? How did I get here? Who am I?"

He opens a closet door and gasps as the camera pans down to the motionless body of a beautiful young woman. In the next sequence, the panicked man is seen searching through the parking lot, trying to match the key tag he found in his pocket with the license plate of one of the cars parked in the lot. He finds the car, gets in, and drives off at high speed.

Cinematic depictions of amnesia can be quite dramatic—and scientifically implausible. The notion that a blow to the head can

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