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Different types of nonlinear films


over 4 years ago

I am trying to find different ways to make nonlinear films using different techniques .

Memento is reverse linear – like reading a book backwards chapter by chapter.

Lone Star has a present time story that moves along linearly, but the past story is more non-linear

Citizen kane multilineal .

I need to find out three different nonlinear films in the way that they have been made.

Matt Parks

over 4 years ago

-Memento is reverse linear-

In Memento,the color sequences are shown in reverse linear, but aren’t the black and white flashbacks embedded in the main line shown chronologically?

Apocalypse Now shows you the end first, then goes back and tells the story linearly.

Kurosawa’s Rashomon shows you different versions of the same events.


over 4 years ago

i dont know if we can consider apocalypse now non linear , in fact i dont really know the limit when just a flashback can be considered as nonlinear, i think a film as to have a non-crhonological order

Matt Parks

over 4 years ago

Simple non-chronological is easy: Irreversible, Peppermint Candy, Betrayal.

Ben Simingt​on

over 4 years ago

Consider the flashback…they count. Why are they used? Why not tell all stories chronologically? I bet a lot of seemingly very simple flashbacks, if used thoughtfully rather than out of gimmickry, will yield great examples of why, when. and how nonlinear film techniques work (or don’t, in the cases of the gimmickry).

Via KANE, THE SOCIAL NETWORK — is there a prioritized present that we are grounded in? How do flashbacks interweave, and do they always belong to the same person?

GROUNDHOG DAY — how is linear film-making used to depict a universe that is apparently recursive, though only to the audience and their single alignment character?

MULHOLLAND DRIVE — Are both distinct portions of the movie linear? Is the thread between the two linear? Is the clarity of each portion approximately the same or relatively different?

THE LOCKET and CALL OF CTHULHU shot — flashbacks within flashbacks within flashbacks within flashbacks…oh my! In the first case, I seem to remember flashbacks being character and dialogue-driven. In the latter case, they get initiated by objects, newspaper clippings, research files, diary entries, interviews, and vague allusions in dreams. Does a great job bringing the multi-narrative short story to life visually.


over 4 years ago

i found something interesting in this website

Although im not sure about considering Usual suspects as a nonlinear film, the we could use the same to say that Apocalypse now is linear.

Films like The Usual Suspects and The English Patient are essentially linear stories, using two time frames proceeding in a chronological order. These are strategies to create context and tension, or deliver exposition. The main plots of these films still proceed in a chronological order of events.

Matt Parks

over 4 years ago

It depends on how strict you want to be with the term “linear,” really. In the absolute-est sense, only a story told in real time could be literally linear. Otherwise you have ellipses within the narrative line.

The Usual Suspects is interesting because much of the “flashback” you get turns to be impromptu fictionalization of what must actually have happened.

Good point with Mulholland Drive, Ben. What about the jump from Fred to Pete in Lost Highway?

deckard croix

over 4 years ago

Since we’re on Lynch: Eraserhead … who can definitively know the chronological structure of that film?

Bobby Wise

over 4 years ago

I’m interested in the non-sequential/non-oneiric film. These are the films with a radicalized break in time. Narratives that break chronology without the aid of dreams or flashbacks or other altered states of consciousness. Objective breaks, not subjective ones. The major expressions of this style are as follows:

“The Killing” by Kubrick
“Love Affair” by Makavejev
“Mystery Train” by Jarmusch
“Night on Earth” by Jarmusch
“Reservoir Dogs” by Tarantino
“Pulp Fiction” by Tarantino
“Kill Bill” by Tarantino

I’d be curious to hear about other interesting examples that people have found.

Matt Parks

over 4 years ago

Well, Bobby, you can go all the way back to something like Griffith’s Intolerence, which is basically a collection of short narratives that are connected by theme rather than by chronology.


over 4 years ago

^ Yeah, was going to say intolerance.

Last Year at Marienbad
The Limey
L’Âge d’Or

Bobby Wise

over 4 years ago

I don’t know that “Intolerance” is the same type of film that I’m speaking about. It’s a collection of short narratives but no pretense is made that these are all connected to an overall, central, guiding narrative. Specifically speaking of course, with regards to the screenplay.

I’m not counting omnibus films either or films that tell disparate stories. If I’m not mistaken, “Rashomon” has flashbacks. “Marienbad” is probably a good example. I don’t recall “L’Age d’or” having a non-linear/non-oneiric structure. Haven’t seen the other films on your list.


over 4 years ago

L’Âge d’Or probably falls more closely into the same category as Intolerance, being a narrative driven by vignettes, though it’s got the trademark surreal touches.


over 4 years ago

Since I just saw it: Reconstruction (2003, Christoffer Boe). The beginning is the end. The end is the beginning. The beginning is the beginning. The end is the end.

Yes, it’s that confusing, but damn worth the mental struggle.


over 4 years ago

Enter the Void – Starts chronological, becomes achronological stream of consciousness involving memories and hallucinations and transitions into complete fantasy.

Prospero’s Books – A chronological story gets turned into a visualization of the creation of the chronological story.

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind – Time loop, rotated.

Last Year at Marienbad – Time is only a memory

Bad Timing – Time is fragmented

Zerkalo – Time?

Brigands, Chapter VII – The reels of a film being played in the film are out of order

Elephant/Last Days/Atonement/Rashomon Time is replayed from different perspectives

I’m Not There – Time is recast and shuffled.

Chocolat Flashback with bookends in the present

Time Regained – Proust

Soy Cuba – Vignettes

L’ange – Abstract


over 4 years ago

The Sweet Hereafter – kind of circular in regards to timeline.

jordaan mason

over 4 years ago

the falls (greenaway) – alphabetical


over 4 years ago

a good example is jim jarmusch’s mystery train because the non linear form is used in clever revelations as the film progresses similarly with doug liman’s film called go

lone star looks good i shall check that out :O)
House of Leaves
about 3 hours ago
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Inland Empire sort of spirals inward on itself. Very complex film.
about 3 hours ago
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Reconstruction jumps all over the timeline.

500 Days of Summer jumps all around, although it’s more or less bi-linear like Blue Valentine.

I didn’t see The Time Traveler’s Wife, but it looked like it was linear with regard to one of the leads and non-linear with regard to the other.

Pulp Fiction jumps all around the timeline, picking lots of excerpts and exploring them linearly. Lots of Tarantino films do that sort of thing, but Pulp Fiction does it the most.

There’s a pretty common style where you start at the end, and characters tell the story leading up to the end, applying their own perspectives to the events. Rashomon, Harakiri.

Also, Ajami explores the same part of the timeline over and over, adding a little bit more information with every perspective, changing the audience’s perspective of the final event as it goes.

I don’t know if you allow TV shows, but a lot of science fiction shows (Babylon 5, Lost) show you future events out of context through either prophecy or time travel and then later show you the events leading up to them.
David Ehrenst​ein
about 2 hours ago
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Alain Resnais is the master of the non-linear

Last Year at marienbad, Jet’aime Je t’aime, Providence, Smoking / No Smoking
about 2 hours ago
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Last Year at Marienbad’s narrative construction is entirely Robbe-Grillet’s.
Robert W Peabody III
5 minutes ago
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Frantisek Vlácil’s The White Dove (1960)
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over 4 years ago

Films such as Walden by Mekas and Mirror by Tarkovsky is structured by nothing but memory and intuition.

Ben Simingt​on

about 4 years ago

Just rewatched RESERVOIR DOGS for the first time since…1997? Nothing too drastic in the with non-linearity, but I do think it’s worth pointing out that the fake flashback inside the flashback to express Tim Roth’s full immersion into undercover duties is a great touch.

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