The best documentaries about memory loss

Oct. 17, 2017

Some believe that we will only have lived as long as we can remember the important things around us.

But what happens in our life and the lives of others when our ability to remember stops working? Let’s dive into the dark side of memory in the following eight fascinating documentaries about memory loss on the list.

What can cause memory loss?


Young Alex and Marcus Lewis in black and white in the documentary Tell Me Who I Am


Among the various forms of memory loss are diagnoses such as Mild Cognitive Impairment, Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, Lewy Body disease, Multi-infarct dementia, traumatic brain injury, and others less common conditions.

The following list aims to raise awareness about this health issue. Not only to prevent memory loss but also to promote awareness, respect, and dignity for individuals suffering from this condition, who are more and more people all over the world.

What are the best documentaries about amnesia, Alzheimer's and memory loss?


Forgetting Dad


An old picture of Richard Minnich with his baby in the documentary Forgetting Dad


After having suffered a car accident, director Rick Minnich’s father did not retain the slightest memory of his past as a family man. Although science could not show any brain damage, Richard Minnich suddenly lost his memory inexplicably. 

He was no longer a father, and instead of resuming his old role, he evolved into a different identity, moving out of his house, making other friends, and starting a new family

In Forgetting Dad, we accompany Rick in his attempt to discover the mystery of his fugitive father with a beautiful essay on orphanhood, paternal abandonment and mental illness. 

Watch this documentary online now on Guidedoc


The Winner Loser


Daniel MacNee in a beach in Scotland


Daniel MacNee is not a common Scot. Each morning, after waking up, Daniel has to rely on a careful method that he invented in order to remember everything he has done in his life up to that very moment. 

It is an ingenious system that has allowed him to be independent ever since a serious mental illness damaged his memory function. 

Captivated by his admirable willingness to live, director Darren Hercher films the extraordinary daily life of Daniel, a character that will remain in our memory for a long time after having seen "The Winner Loser". 

Watch this documentary online now on Guidedoc

Time Suspended


Laura Bonaparte smiles at a restaurant in the documentary Time Suspended

For some people, the lack of memories is not an unfortunate loss, but rather an opportunity to escape from inherited pains

Brutally persecuted by a cruel dictatorship that also took away her three children, we will never know for sure if Laura Bonaparte, now in the autumn of her life, prefers fog or a clear landscape in her memory. 

She is the protagonist of this documentary directed by Natalia Bruschtein, her own granddaughter, who filmed it with the intrinsic purpose of cinema: to perpetuate lives and memorable moments. The film is a beautiful document about memory and filial love.

Watch this documentary online now on Guidedoc


Prisoner of Consciousness


Clive Wearing in an promotional image of the documentary Prisoner Of Conciousness


Before being attacked by a virus that would change his life forever, Clive Wearing was known for his musical talents and for being an excellent symphony orchestra conductor.

But in 1986 he became famous throughout England for this documentary about his rare and serious condition of amnesia caused by that contagion. 

At the time, Clive had only short-term memory, losing his consciousness in just a few minutes. The only person he recognized was his wife, but incredibly his musical knowledge remained intact.


The Man With The Seven Second Memory


Clive Wearing in the documentary The Man With The Seven Second Memory


Following the success of Prisoner of Consciousness, a documentary that was seen by millions of people around the world, several decades later this episode of the TV series “Real Life” shows Clive Wearing in his everyday old age. 

His short-term memory now only functions for about seven seconds but in his demeanor, we perceive a serenity learned from so many years of living with his condition.

Among the interviewees are his wife and daughter, who brings us a painful testimony about a father who simply seems to have vanished at one point in life.


Monster In The Mind


An old woman in a laboratory in the documentary Monster In The Mind


Once upon a time, Alzheimer's disease did not exist. It was called senility, which implied getting old and forgetful. 

But today, Alzheimer's is "the most significant social and medical crisis of the 21st century". 

In this documentary, a series of scientists explain the bleak scenario of a world of demented people in the near future if this disease is not prevented in the medium term. 

The film goes on to explain pedagogically how Alzheimer's affects our brain and what is within our reach to avoid suffering from this disease in our advanced age.


The Alzheimer's Project: The Memory Loss Tapes


Two old women singing in the documentary The Alzheimer's Project: The Memory Loss Tapes


This multi-platform HBO series focuses on a group of individuals that have or were to be diagnosed with Alzheimer's and follows them through the early or late development of the disease

As fascinating as it is moving, the most valuable thing about The Alzheimer's Project is the time perspective it gives us to understand the fatal progression of the disease and the ways that medicine has today to slow and prevent it.

Tell Me Who I Am


Alex and his twin brother Marcus Lewis in the documentary Tell Me Who I Am


Constructed as a psychological thriller, this Netflix documentary tells the story of Alex and his twin brother Marcus Lewis. 

After Alex loses his memory in a motorcycle accident, Marcus helps him reconstruct his childhood through photographs of family vacations in France, afternoons playing in the backyard, and other happy moments like when they made a snowman in the Winter.

But none of this was true.

In his fifties, Marcus decides to reveal the true, traumatic childhood he and his brother had with their dysfunctional parents.

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