This section refers to the films Intacto, Memento, Secretary, Saw. While Memento is well documented on this site (see the main menu for more) and Saw and Secretary have also been looked at in some depth, there is currently no information on the use of Polaroids in Intacto - one of the most illuminating films I have seen concerning integral Polaroid use. This will be addressed in due course, in a similar manner to both Memento and Shutter (again, see the main menu for notes on this film).
The durability of the integral Polaroid (part 3).
The durability of the integral Polaroid is evidenced by the means of its very destruction, or attempts at destruction, in other films also. Most notable are the Spanish film Intacto (Juan Carlos Fresnadillo. 2001), and the American films Secretary (Steven Shainberg. 2002) and Saw (James Wan. 2004) . This film also testifies to the same issue by the very means of its fabrication (FIGS. 1, 2), for on close examination of the stills it is apparent that the photograph is not an integral Polaroid.
It can be seen that while the front side contains a white border, this is lacking on its reverse along the left side. Indeed, it also appears that the two stills show two different images. The image as shown in the first still conforms, in its dimensions and the relationship between the white border and the image proper, to that of a Spectra\Image System Polaroid, yet its reverse, on which is written: 'X MARKS THE SPOT. SOMETIMES YOU SEE MORE WITH YOUR EYES SHUT.' denies such certainty. In overall size, the reverse of the image is akin to a 600 or SX70 Polaroid; further, the numerical notations are similar in style to a 600 or SX70 Polaroid also, rather than to a Spectra/Image System. This, then, would indicate that the image utilised in the film is not an actual Polaroid – that there are actually two images: one of which, at least, is a fabrication.
Two other points, though not verifiable - I do not posses the actual image - may be raised to support such a view: the Polaroid is found in Lawrence's wallet, folded in half; the mark left by the fold appears rather thin and too easily achieved; secondly, there is a lack of sheen apparent on the image surface. The patina is not that of a Polaroid.
In Secretary, during chapter 11, Edward Grey (James Spader) burns the integral Polaroids not only of his current secretary (and soon to be lover) Lee Holloway (Maggie Gyllenhaal) but all his previous secretaries also. From the commentary, the director Shainberg states:
This is a fun moment too I think. We see [the Polaroids of] Lee Holloway along with other secretaries and I think the feeling of this is, you know, he's really finished with this whole way of life or trying to be finished with this whole way of life. As he has being really throughout the whole movie, but is now trying to make a sort of stab at stopping, like an addict. (2003)
Intacto however complicates the matter. Two integral Polaroids are destroyed during the course of the film: one depicting Tomas and Ana, the other a car. To turn first to that of Ana and Tomas, as its manner of destruction allies itself with those discussed earlier: Leonard’s Polaroids of himself and Jimmy G. (Memento), and Edward Grey’s Polaroids of his secretaries (Secretary) - and thus preserves notions of durability through the very lengths which one must go to destroy the integral Polaroid - as already discussed.
During chapter 10 the Polaroid of Tomas and Ana is stolen from Tomas by Frederico, who later (chapter 11) cuts the Polaroid in half, effecting a separation of Tomas and Ana (it is this act that propels the latter part of the narrative, and effects a conclusion). During chapter 13 Frederico places the half depicting Tomas in a shredder in an attempt to cover their tracks from Sara, the police officer. In chapter 16 Tomas, regaining the remaining part of the Polaroid depicting Ana from Samuel Berg affects its destruction by burning – which is shown in the final scene.
Frederico however, rips the Polaroid of the car in what appears to be an effortless act, contradicting notions of durability mentioned by Nolan and expanded upon in this text. This occurs during chapter 6, the need for its destruction heralded by the same concerns that led to the destruction of the portion of the Polaroid of Tomas. Such a specific manner of destruction is also evident in Tony Parson’s novel Man and Wife:
I watched him assemble the photograph he had torn to pieces. It was a Polaroid, one of those pictures taken by lovers at tourist spots. A man and a woman on a summer's day, squinting into the camera in front of Notre Dame. Eamon and his Mem in Paris. (2006)
The question then, is: how is such an act possible, if, indeed it is possible? Is the Polaroid a fabrication – like that in Saw?