Prosthetic memories and Visual Memory – Chapter 2 draft

Visual Recordings - Maze Runner

Prosthetic memories and Visual Memory

Visual Recordings - Maze Runner wide imageThe Maze Runner (2014) a science fiction sub-genre of the apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic science fiction, is an example of how a prosthetic memory can change the direction of the narrative. How a false memory created through the use of a visual recording, a message from a past that the main protagonists did not live reveals and enlightens both the protagonists and spectators. The film opens with the main protagonist transferring to the surface from a subterranean location. The main protagonist, Thomas arrives with no memory alluding to his identity which in a few days he partially regains some memories limited to his name only. His memory has been wiped selectively, his name the only memory and identity that he knows, just like all the others. They do not know where they are in the world or the reason for their incarceration in this artificial environment, the Glade. They are determined to escape and so each day a team (the runners) explores the maze outside of the Glade, the aim to identify a route out of The Glade and escape back to the real world. Eventually, they escape only to find themselves in the laboratory, everyone appears to be dead, and the laboratory shows damage from a battle between the scientists and an unknown armed group. It is at this point when a visual recording starts to play. In the visual recording the scientist reveals that they have been the subjects of an experiment, the world is a ruin, destroyed by Sun flares and an unknown plague called the Flare, as the visual recording plays an armed battle is revealed playing out in the background. As the battle reaches a climax the scientist commits suicide in front of the camera rather than be captured.

But the visual recording is a falsehood its intention to create prosthetic memories in the small group of survivors. As the survivors are seemingly rescued from the laboratory the next scene reveals the scientist who killed herself in the visual recording is still alive and extorting to the other scientists that they are to prepare for stage 2 of the experiment. The staging of the armed assault in the laboratory and the formulation of memories of past events in the real world are essential in preparing the survivors for the next stage of the experiment. The visual recording is intended to manipulate the memories of the survivors. These survivors who because of what we have assumed to be selective memory wipes or the loss of short-term memory as they remember their names after a few days. They are not able to make a comparison between the real and prosthetic memories that they have been told through the scientist’s visual recording. For example, Burgoyne quotes Landsberg, “Landsberg argues that prosthetic memories, especially those afforded by the cinema, ‘become part of one’s personal archive of experience’.” (Burgoyne, 2003: 224). The visual recording achieves on several levels the effects of prosthetic memory. Firstly, it influences the actions of the protagonists and secondly the understanding of the spectator, as this is the only explanation of what happened to the real world. I have problems with prosthetic memory and visual recordings which include the main protagonist, as this would conflict with the definition of prosthetic memories, but this example does not.

However, in the following two examples I do have trouble coinciding the introduction and of the use of visual recording featuring the protagonist to represent memories that they have forgotten as prosthetic memories. In each case the protagonists have actually lived these memories, that is memories of events that they have forgotten and even though they are delivered by a form of mass media, that is visual recording they still believe do not reside within the definition of prosthetic memories. I featured both films in the Flashback section as they are recordings set in the past. Total Recall (1990) directed by Paul Verhoeven. In the scene where Douglas Quaid watches a visual recording of himself telling him that all of his memories are false, he is not married and not a construction worker but instead an agent actively working against Mars’s administrator Cohaagen. My problem with this visual recording revelation is that the main protagonist Douglas lived this event as he featured in the visual recording therefore it can be argued that these memories are not prosthetic memories even though he has no memory of them. This is an area that deserves to be expanded upon as the definition of prosthetic memory advanced by Landsberg seems limited.

Visual Memory - Still AliceThe other example appears in the film Still Alice (2014) Directed by Richard Glatzer. My problem with this film is the suicide visual recording that Alice records for her future self. This visual recording is created for Alice to follow when her memory deteriorates to a set point determined by her daily memory questionnaire that she checks herself against on her mobile phone.

Visual Memory

My problem with this visual recording has the same issue I have for Total Recall as the protagonist features in the visual recording of this event, a memory that she has lived and therefore does not accommodate itself within the definition of prosthetic memory. This visual recording conflicts directly with one of the key elements of the prosthetic memory definition “ ( . . . ) a memory of events they did not live ( . . . . ) “ (Landsberg, 2016). This is another example of the difficulty of defining or of even finding the exact words to describe memory in film. In this case, another name and definition should be considered for this type of memory, perhaps Visual Memory?

Bibliography

Anon (2017) Ghost in the Shell (2017) – Quotes – IMDb. Available at: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt1219827/quotes?ref_=tttrv_sa_3 (Accessed: 21 January 2020).
Bordwell, D. (2006) The Way Hollywood Tells It. University of California Press.
Burgoyne, R. (2003) ‘Memory, history and digital imagery in contemporary film’, in Grainge, P. (ed.) Memory and popular film.
‘Enterprise’ Similitude (TV Episode 2003) – IMDb (no date). Available at: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0572236/?ref_=ttep_ep10 (Accessed: 7 March 2021).
Evans, J. (2011) Top 5 Sci-Fi Movies About Cloning. Available at: https://sciencefiction.com/2011/12/08/top-5-sci-fi-movies-about-cloning/ (Accessed: 7 February 2021).
Gateward, F. (2004) Genders OnLine Journal – Presenting innovative theories in art, literature, history, music, TV and film., Genders Online Journal. Available at: https://cdn.atria.nl/ezines/IAV_606661/IAV_606661_2010_51/g40_gateward.html (Accessed: 17 February 2021).
Grainge, P. (2018) ‘Memory and popular film’, in Memory and popular film. doi: 10.1111/j.1537-4726.2004.141_16.x.
Hayward, S. (2018) Cinema Studies The Key Concepts. Fitth, Book. Fitth.
Hiatt, B. (2003) Answers to ‘“Matrix Reloaded”’ burning questions | EW.com. Available at: https://ew.com/article/2003/05/23/answers-matrix-reloaded-burning-questions/ (Accessed: 6 February 2021).
Kilbourn, R. (2019) ‘RE-WRITING ” REALITY “: READING ” THE MATRIX ” Author ( s ): RUSSELL J . A . KILBOURN Source : Revue Canadienne d ’ Études cinématographiques / Canadian Journal of Film Studies , Published by : University of Toronto Press Stable URL : https://www.jstor.or’, 9(2), pp. 43–54.
Landsberg, A. (2004) Prosthetic Memory : The Transformation of American Remembrance in the Age of Mass Culture. New York: Columbia University Press. Available at: http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=nlebk&AN=107227&site=ehost-live&authtype=ip,shib&user=s1523151.
Landsberg, A. (2016) ‘Prosthetic Memory: Total Recall and Blade Runner’, Body & society. SAGE Publications, 1(3–4), pp. 175–189. doi: 10.1177/1357034×95001003010.
Lopes, M. M., Ncc, I. and Bastos, P. B. (2019) ‘Memory ( Enhancement ) and Cinema : an exploratory creative overview’.
Lury, C. (2013) Prosthetic Culture, Prosthetic Culture. doi: 10.4324/9780203425251.
Opam, K. (2017) Ghost in the Shell review: a solid film built on a broken foundation – The Verge. Available at: https://www.theverge.com/2017/3/29/15114902/ghost-in-the-shell-review-scarlett-johansson (Accessed: 21 January 2020).
Radstone, S. (2010) ‘Cinema and memory’, in Memory: Histories, Theories, Debates. Fordham University Press, pp. 325–342.
Radstone, S. and Hodgkin, K. (2003) Regimes of memory, Regimes of Memory. doi: 10.4324/9780203391532.
Radstone, Sussanah and Schwarz, B. (2010) ‘Memory’, in Radstone, Susannah and Shwarz, B. (eds), pp. 325–342.
replicant, n. : Oxford English Dictionary (no date). Available at: https://www.oed.com/view/Entry/162877?redirectedFrom=replicant#eid (Accessed: 22 April 2020).
Rife, S. (2014) Oblivion: Trouble with Cinematic Memory – Offscreen, Offscreen. Available at: https://offscreen.com/view/oblivion-cinematic-memory (Accessed: 4 February 2021).
Ripley 8 | Alien Anthology Wiki | Fandom (no date). Available at: https://alienanthology.fandom.com/wiki/Ripley_8 (Accessed: 6 February 2021).
Schwab, G. (1987) ‘Cyborgs. Postmodern Phantasms of Body and Mind’, Discourse, 9, pp. 64–84. Available at: http://www.jstor.org/stable/41389089.
Sloat, S. (2017) False Memories in ‘Blade Runner’ Could’ve Been Solved with Science. Available at: https://www.inverse.com/article/37496-blade-runner-2049-false-memories-ryan-gosling (Accessed: 16 March 2020).
Spies Like Us: Harry Palmer, the Everyday Hero of ‘The Ipcress File’ • Cinephilia & Beyond (no date). Available at: https://cinephiliabeyond.org/spies-like-us-harry-palmer-everyday-hero-ipcress-file/ (Accessed: 1 February 2021).
Sprengnether, M. (2012) ‘Freud as memoirist: A reading of “Screen Memories”’, American Imago, 69(2), pp. 215–239. doi: 10.1353/aim.2012.0008.
Treffert, D. (2015) Genetic Memory: How We Know Things We Never Learned – Scientific American Blog Network. Available at: https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/guest-blog/genetic-memory-how-we-know-things-we-never-learned/ (Accessed: 4 February 2021).
Warner Brothers (2017) Blade Runner 2049 (2017) – IMDb. Available at: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt1856101/?ref_=nv_sr_srsg_0 (Accessed: 5 May 2020).

Clones and Genetic Memories – Chapter 2 draft

Moon

Genetics

Clones and geneticS memories continued

Many other films use a similar trope, the clone that does not know it is a clone Moon (2009) Directed by Duncan Jones. Sam is a clone that is not aware that it is a clone until it meets another clone, as in the film Oblivion. This film also shares similarities with Blade Runner in regard to cloning life expectancy (3 years).

Genetics and cloning in The Island
The Island – inside the facility

The Island (2005) Directed by Michael Bay. The big secret is that everyone working in the facility is supposedly a survivor in a Dystopian future and is in fact a clone. They are unaware that they are clones and that their sole purpose is to provide spare parts to their owners should their owners become sick or injured. While they do not have a complete memory of their true lives and identities and no memory of the very much safe and undamaged World outside, they have genetic memories in order to be able to function and additional prosthetic memories of why they should stay in the facility.
Genetic memories while still, an area of research in the scientific world appears to offer a solution for cinema to explain how newly created and bioengineered beings that is clones can function almost immediately and complete with memories of the original subject up to the moment of activation. Just like human babies they are born with the abilities to do things, memories that control autonomous functions, for example learning to walk, do they learn this, or is it programmed into the DNA and they just remember how to do it, genetic memory?

Genetic memories

Genetic memory, simply put, is complex abilities and actual sophisticated knowledge inherited along with other more typical and commonly accepted physical and behavioral characteristics. (Treffert, 2015)

In Science Fiction films the trope of genetic memory creates the possibility for a way of defining how clones are able to remember the original subjects’ memories. Genetic memories are memories that are encoded in genetics and may be passed on through the generations. Explicitly in the film examples, I have chosen, genetic memories are passed on from the original subject and embedded within the clone’s genetics, as part of its very DNA. The general belief is that while cloning has been proven, creating a clone with complete memories of the original would not be so easily achieved. As Evans writes “[f]or most cloning depicted in the film, there is no cloning of memories. Only the biology is duplicated ( . . . ) Duplicating a person’s memories and learning is many orders of magnitude more difficult to accomplish than copying the genetics ( . . . )“ (Evans, 2011)

Genetics and cloning of Ripley
Alien Ressurection

Another many-time replicated trope is the idea of the clone who remembers their past life. Alien Resurrection (1997) Directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet. This film depicts a form of genetic memory remembered in a clone, Ripley 8, although in this film it is the xenomorph that is credited with the ability to retain memories across the generations. In the final scenes of Alien3 (1992) Directed by David Fincher, Ripley’s character is shown falling into a furnace clutching the xenomorph to her chest, almost certainly to her death. Alien Resurrection opens on the premise that the scientists are attempting to recreate the xenomorph Queen from Ripley’s clone created through the recovered genetic material. By surgically removing it from the body of a fully grown clone of Ripley. We see Ripley 8 (clone number 8) who exhibits a combination of human and xenomorph genetics combined with Ripleys DNA beginning to remember her past life in the canteen scene, which surprises the scientists who despite the initial desire to terminate Ripley’s clone, ending experiment because of this, but decide not to, to see what happens. While not an authoritative source of information the consensus among fans contributing to the Alien Anthology Wiki , which states that “[t]he Xenomorphs possesses the ability to pass on their memories genetically, and because of this Ripley 8 has “inherited” vague memories that belonged to the original Ellen Ripley as well as the Xenomorph”. (Ripley 8 | Alien Anthology Wiki | Fandom, no date)
Another example of the clone remembering their past life through genetic memories.

Genetics Leloo
Fifth Element – Multipass

The Fifth Element (1997) Directed by Luc Besson is another excellent example of a film where genetics DNA and genetic memory are key to the progress of the narrative. When the Fifth Element is transported back to the Earth in a spaceship and is destroyed on route by the Mangalores, there is only one survivor. The only survivor turns out to be just a severed hand holding a case. The scientists use the DNA material from the hand to create a clone. Leeloo is fully grown and complete with all her memories, grown in a machine, we see the cloning method as each layer is formed, the bones, muscles, and veins with the final process, exposure to ultraviolet rays to form the skin. Leeloo is complete both in mind and body, the genetic memories encoded into her DNA. The memories are not complete, a scene shows her watching television, rapidly scrolling through images to catch up on recent Earth’s history, martial arts, and society.

Genetics
Star Trek: Enterprise – Similitude

A final example of this trope, the clone remembering the donor’s life’s memories can be watched in a science fiction television series Enterprise (2001 – 2005), in Series 3 episode 10 Similitude (2003). Trip is injured when the engines malfunction and the only solution offered by the ship’s doctor is to grow a clone from Trip’s DNA using an alien larva. This rapidly growing clone with Trips genetics and with a lifespan of just 15 days will have its organs harvested to heal a dying Trip. As the episode progresses the clone grows to adulthood with all of Trips memories complete. As in Alien Resurrection, it is the xenomorph that is credited with being able to recreate the memories from the donor’s DNA. (‘Enterprise’ Similitude (TV Episode 2003) – IMDb, no date)

Bibliography

Anon (2017) Ghost in the Shell (2017) – Quotes – IMDb. Available at: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt1219827/quotes?ref_=tttrv_sa_3 (Accessed: 21 January 2020).
Bordwell, D. (2006) The Way Hollywood Tells It. University of California Press.
Burgoyne, R. (2003) ‘Memory, history and digital imagery in contemporary film’, in Grainge, P. (ed.) Memory and popular film.
‘Enterprise’ Similitude (TV Episode 2003) – IMDb (no date). Available at: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0572236/?ref_=ttep_ep10 (Accessed: 7 March 2021).
Evans, J. (2011) Top 5 Sci-Fi Movies About Cloning. Available at: https://sciencefiction.com/2011/12/08/top-5-sci-fi-movies-about-cloning/ (Accessed: 7 February 2021).
Gateward, F. (2004) Genders OnLine Journal – Presenting innovative theories in art, literature, history, music, TV and film., Genders Online Journal. Available at: https://cdn.atria.nl/ezines/IAV_606661/IAV_606661_2010_51/g40_gateward.html (Accessed: 17 February 2021).
Grainge, P. (2018) ‘Memory and popular film’, in Memory and popular film. doi: 10.1111/j.1537-4726.2004.141_16.x.
Hayward, S. (2018) Cinema Studies The Key Concepts. Fitth, Book. Fitth.
Hiatt, B. (2003) Answers to ‘“Matrix Reloaded”’ burning questions | EW.com. Available at: https://ew.com/article/2003/05/23/answers-matrix-reloaded-burning-questions/ (Accessed: 6 February 2021).
Kilbourn, R. (2019) ‘RE-WRITING ” REALITY “: READING ” THE MATRIX ” Author ( s ): RUSSELL J . A . KILBOURN Source : Revue Canadienne d ’ Études cinématographiques / Canadian Journal of Film Studies , Published by : University of Toronto Press Stable URL : https://www.jstor.or’, 9(2), pp. 43–54.
Landsberg, A. (2004) Prosthetic Memory : The Transformation of American Remembrance in the Age of Mass Culture. New York: Columbia University Press. Available at: http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=nlebk&AN=107227&site=ehost-live&authtype=ip,shib&user=s1523151.
Landsberg, A. (2016) ‘Prosthetic Memory: Total Recall and Blade Runner’, Body & society. SAGE Publications, 1(3–4), pp. 175–189. doi: 10.1177/1357034×95001003010.
Lopes, M. M., Ncc, I. and Bastos, P. B. (2019) ‘Memory ( Enhancement ) and Cinema : an exploratory creative overview’.
Lury, C. (2013) Prosthetic Culture, Prosthetic Culture. doi: 10.4324/9780203425251.
Opam, K. (2017) Ghost in the Shell review: a solid film built on a broken foundation – The Verge. Available at: https://www.theverge.com/2017/3/29/15114902/ghost-in-the-shell-review-scarlett-johansson (Accessed: 21 January 2020).
Radstone, S. (2010) ‘Cinema and memory’, in Memory: Histories, Theories, Debates. Fordham University Press, pp. 325–342.
Radstone, S. and Hodgkin, K. (2003) Regimes of memory, Regimes of Memory. doi: 10.4324/9780203391532.
Radstone, Sussanah and Schwarz, B. (2010) ‘Memory’, in Radstone, Susannah and Shwarz, B. (eds), pp. 325–342.
replicant, n. : Oxford English Dictionary (no date). Available at: https://www.oed.com/view/Entry/162877?redirectedFrom=replicant#eid (Accessed: 22 April 2020).
Rife, S. (2014) Oblivion: Trouble with Cinematic Memory – Offscreen, Offscreen. Available at: https://offscreen.com/view/oblivion-cinematic-memory (Accessed: 4 February 2021).
Ripley 8 | Alien Anthology Wiki | Fandom (no date). Available at: https://alienanthology.fandom.com/wiki/Ripley_8 (Accessed: 6 February 2021).
Schwab, G. (1987) ‘Cyborgs. Postmodern Phantasms of Body and Mind’, Discourse, 9, pp. 64–84. Available at: http://www.jstor.org/stable/41389089.
Sloat, S. (2017) False Memories in ‘Blade Runner’ Could’ve Been Solved with Science. Available at: https://www.inverse.com/article/37496-blade-runner-2049-false-memories-ryan-gosling (Accessed: 16 March 2020).
Spies Like Us: Harry Palmer, the Everyday Hero of ‘The Ipcress File’ • Cinephilia & Beyond (no date). Available at: https://cinephiliabeyond.org/spies-like-us-harry-palmer-everyday-hero-ipcress-file/ (Accessed: 1 February 2021).
Sprengnether, M. (2012) ‘Freud as memoirist: A reading of “Screen Memories”’, American Imago, 69(2), pp. 215–239. doi: 10.1353/aim.2012.0008.
Treffert, D. (2015) Genetic Memory: How We Know Things We Never Learned – Scientific American Blog Network. Available at: https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/guest-blog/genetic-memory-how-we-know-things-we-never-learned/ (Accessed: 4 February 2021).
Warner Brothers (2017) Blade Runner 2049 (2017) – IMDb. Available at: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt1856101/?ref_=nv_sr_srsg_0 (Accessed: 5 May 2020).

Prosthetic Memory Chapter 2 draft Pt4

Prosthetic memory
Oblivion (2013) Jack is a clone, number 49, but he does not know this because his memories are not his own. His prosthetic memory is of the Earth’s triumph and the defeat of an Alien invasion. That his role now as a Drone repair technician is helping to protect a desolate Earth from the few remaining Alien survivors. But in truth the opposite is true, the Alien Invasion was victorious, and Jack is unknowingly carrying out the Alien’s Avatar directions, by assisting Sally to strip the Earth of its few remaining resources. In truth, the aliens he is fighting are actually Earth’s real survivors, Scavengers or Scav’s as they are referred to.

As events unfold, he begins to break through the artificial and false prosthetic memories and begin to remember the reality of what happened, eventually overriding the prosthetic memories in the process. One of the key events in understanding his true situation and identity is the chance meeting of his clone, duplicating his role in a different zone. As in the film Ghost in the Shell, the false memories begin to break down. Jack is a clone, yet he appears to retain the memories of the original Jack, hidden behind the false prosthetic memories imprinted on his brain by Sally. As Lury argues in a culture created through the use of prosthetic memory that this culture that is a [p]rosthetic culture thus provides a novel context for understandings of the person and of self-identity”. (Lury, 2013: 11). What I would argue and as Lury appears to suggest in her argument, is that Jack’s identity up to this point does not include the possibility that he is a clone, that he is uniquely Jack, not a clone and his prosthetic memories are real and inform his identity and purpose, which only changes as Jack learns his true identity.

The Maze Runner (2014) The film opens with the main protagonist transferring to the surface from a subterranean location. The main protagonist, Thomas arrives with no memory except in a few days he remembers his name. His memory has been wiped selectively, his name the only memory and identity that he knows, just like all the others. They do not know where they are in the world or the reason for their incarceration in the Glade. They are determined to escape and so each day a team (runners) explores the maze outside of the Glade, the aim to identify a route out of the false habitat The Glade and escape back to the real world.

Eventually, they escape only to find themselves in a laboratory, everyone appears to be dead, and the laboratory shows damage from a battle between the scientists and an unknown armed group. It is at this point a video starts to play. In the video the scientist reveals that they have been the subjects of an experiment, the world is a ruin destroyed by Sun flares and an unknown plague called the Flare, as the video plays an armed battle is revealed in the background. As the battle reaches a climax the scientist commits suicide in front of the camera rather than be captured. But the video is a lie its intention to create false memories, prosthetic memories in the group of survivors. As the survivors are seemingly rescued from the laboratory the next scene reveals the scientist who killed herself in the video alive and explaining to the other scientists to prepare for stage 2 of the experiment. The staging set in the laboratory and false memories of past events are essential in preparing the survivors for the next stage of the experiment. The video manipulating the memories of the survivors who because of their memory wipes cannot make any comparison between what they know and what they have been told

Bibliography

Anon (2017) Ghost in the Shell (2017) – Quotes – IMDb. Available at: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt1219827/quotes?ref_=tttrv_sa_3 (Accessed: 21 January 2020).
Bordwell, D., Thompson, K. and Smith, J. (2016) Film Art: Creativity, Technology, and Business, Film Art: An Introduction.
Grainge, P. (2018) Memory and popular film, Memory and popular film. doi: 10.1111/j.1537-4726.2004.141_16.x.
Hayward, S. (2018) Cinema Studies The Key Concepts. Fitth, Book. Fitth.
Kilbourn, R. (2019) ‘RE-WRITING ” REALITY “: READING ” THE MATRIX ” Author ( s ): RUSSELL J . A . KILBOURN Source : Revue Canadienne d ’ Études cinématographiques / Canadian Journal of Film Studies , Published by : University of Toronto Press Stable URL : https://www.jstor.or’, 9(2), pp. 43–54.
Landsberg, A. (2004) Prosthetic Memory : The Transformation of American Remembrance in the Age of Mass Culture. New York: Columbia University Press. Available at: http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=nlebk&AN=107227&site=ehost-live&authtype=ip,shib&user=s1523151.
Landsberg, A. (2009) ‘Memory, empathy, and the politics of identification’, International Journal of Politics, Culture and Society, 22(2), pp. 221–229. doi: 10.1007/s10767-009-9056-x.
Landsberg, A. (2016) ‘Prosthetic Memory: Total Recall and Blade Runner’, Body & society. SAGE Publications, 1(3–4), pp. 175–189. doi: 10.1177/1357034×95001003010.
Lury, C. (2013) Prosthetic Culture, Prosthetic Culture. doi: 10.4324/9780203425251.
Opam, K. (2017) Ghost in the Shell review: a solid film built on a broken foundation – The Verge. Available at: https://www.theverge.com/2017/3/29/15114902/ghost-in-the-shell-review-scarlett-johansson (Accessed: 21 January 2020).
Radstone, S. and Hodgkin, K. (2003) Regimes of memory, Regimes of Memory. doi: 10.4324/9780203391532.
Radstone, S. and Schwarz, B. (2016) ‘Chapter Title : Introduction : Mapping Memory Chapter Author ( s ): Susannah Radstone and Bill Schwarz Book Title : Memory Book Subtitle : Histories , Theories , Debates’, pp. 0–10.
replicant, n. : Oxford English Dictionary (no date). Available at: https://www.oed.com/view/Entry/162877?redirectedFrom=replicant#eid (Accessed: 22 April 2020).
Sloat, S. (2017) False Memories in ‘Blade Runner’ Could’ve Been Solved with Science. Available at: https://www.inverse.com/article/37496-blade-runner-2049-false-memories-ryan-gosling (Accessed: 16 March 2020).
Spies Like Us: Harry Palmer, the Everyday Hero of ‘The Ipcress File’ • Cinephilia & Beyond (no date). Available at: https://cinephiliabeyond.org/spies-like-us-harry-palmer-everyday-hero-ipcress-file/ (Accessed: 1 February 2021).
Warner Brothers (2017) Blade Runner 2049 (2017) – IMDb. Available at: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt1856101/?ref_=nv_sr_srsg_0 (Accessed: 5 May 2020).

Prosthetic Memory Chapter 2 draft Pt3

The Matrix

Prosthetic Memory

Prosthetic memory in The MatrixProsthetic Memory in Science Fiction

Because the mass media fundamentally alter our notion of what counts as experience, they might be a privileged arena for the production and circulation of prosthetic memories. The cinema, in particular, as an institution which makes available images for mass consumption, has long been aware of its ability to generate experiences and to install memories of them – memories which become experiences that film consumers both possess and feel possessed by. (Landsberg, 2016: 176)

Landsberg appears to be referring in this quote to unique environment of cinema and film which are consumed through the mass media, that is film and the privileged arena that is the cinema and its ability to create prosthetic memories. By Cinema I mean the privileged environment that is designed purposely to present film as reality. The spectator engages with films of events and life experiences of others that the spectator did not directly experience yet now has memories of, that is prosthetic memories. Film itself is a form of memory, a historical visual record of events and experiences. Science fiction genre films elevate this discourse through the central theme of prosthetic memory. Yet with some caution as Landsberg argues people may have a different experience and prosthetic memory from watching the same film. She argues “[t]wo people watching a film may each develop a prosthetic memory, but their prosthetic memories may not be identical. For each, the memories are inflected by the specificities of his or her other experiences and place in the world”. (Landsberg, 2004: 21).

Prosthetic memory in The Matrix
The Matrix

The Matrix (1999) is an example of such a film. The Matrix’s central theme is that the world is a virtual simulation. Kilbourn argues that “[t]he Matrix itself is the dream world, the false Utopia of a simulated reality”. (Kilbourn, 2019: 11). Humans are born and live their entire lives without physical interaction with the real world in this virtually simulated world, while their bodies are cocooned and used to generate essential electric power for their machine overlords. It could be argued that as all their life experiences and memories are created through interaction with a virtual simulation that these human’s memories are entirely prosthetic. They have not actually lived thier lives and events in the real world but have accumulated prosthetic memories through the use of mass technology. Landsberg states “…films gradually undermine the value of the distinction between real and simulation, between authentic and prosthetic memory” (Landsberg, 2016: 186). Appropriately in this example The Matrix reveals a world where the human populations experience and indeed memories are entirely consumed through the use of mass technology, they believe that the virtual world is real. If we consider that the entire world revealed in The Matrix is virtual with prosthetic memories implanted, this would tie in with a quote by Radstone who states “[t]he term ‘prosthetic memory’ is usually associated with postmodernist theory, with the impact of technology on memory and with the possibility that film and, more recently, digital technology, might enable the ‘implantation’ of memories of unexperienced events”. (Radstone and Hodgkin, 2003: 59). Thomas Anderson (Neo) believes his life is real, yet he lives entirely in this virtual world. Neo, a computer hacker lives on the fringes of society in this virtual world until he is contacted by the woman Trinity. Through her he meets Morpheus who reveals the true nature of world to Neo. The real world is of a devastated earth, the Sun blocked from reaching the Earth’s surface through the actions of a group of humans, a last-ditch attempt to stop the intelligent machines from world domination. Neo’s memories to this point are accrued entirely in the virtual world, his memories all prosthetic memories.

Prosthetic memory in The Matrix
The Matrix Virtual World

After Neo’s awakening and transition to the real world, Neo is introduced to the training programs. Through this Neo obtains more prosthetic memories directly input through the access port situated in the base of his skull. As Kilbourn states that, “…in the 22nd-century world of The Matrix, people do not learn by reading books or computer screens,- they simply download the information directly into their brains, as if they were themselves machines”. (Kilbourn, 2019: 3). For Neo these training programs are uploaded directly into his brain “I know Kung Fu” Neo states following the upload of not only the knowledge of martial arts but the experience of using these prosthetic memories into his brain. Armed with his new prosthetic memories of martial arts skills and experience Neo returns to the virtual world to battle with the agents who are programmed to protect the simulated world from those who wish to destroy it.

Bibliography

Anon (2017) Ghost in the Shell (2017) – Quotes – IMDb. Available at: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt1219827/quotes?ref_=tttrv_sa_3 (Accessed: 21 January 2020).
Bordwell, D., Thompson, K. and Smith, J. (2016) Film Art: Creativity, Technology, and Business, Film Art: An Introduction.
Hayward, S. (2018) Cinema Studies The Key Concepts. Fitth, Book. Fitth.
Kilbourn, R. (2019) ‘RE-WRITING ” REALITY “: READING ” THE MATRIX ” Author ( s ): RUSSELL J . A . KILBOURN Source : Revue Canadienne d ’ Études cinématographiques / Canadian Journal of Film Studies , Published by : University of Toronto Press Stable URL : https://www.jstor.or’, 9(2), pp. 43–54.
Landsberg, A. (2004) Prosthetic Memory : The Transformation of American Remembrance in the Age of Mass Culture. New York: Columbia University Press. Available at: http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=nlebk&AN=107227&site=ehost-live&authtype=ip,shib&user=s1523151.
Landsberg, A. (2009) ‘Memory, empathy, and the politics of identification’, International Journal of Politics, Culture and Society, 22(2), pp. 221–229. doi: 10.1007/s10767-009-9056-x.
Landsberg, A. (2016) ‘Prosthetic Memory: Total Recall and Blade Runner’, Body & society. SAGE Publications, 1(3–4), pp. 175–189. doi: 10.1177/1357034×95001003010.
Lury, C. (2013) Prosthetic Culture, Prosthetic Culture. doi: 10.4324/9780203425251.
Opam, K. (2017) Ghost in the Shell review: a solid film built on a broken foundation – The Verge. Available at: https://www.theverge.com/2017/3/29/15114902/ghost-in-the-shell-review-scarlett-johansson (Accessed: 21 January 2020).
Radstone, S. and Hodgkin, K. (2003) Regimes of memory, Regimes of Memory. doi: 10.4324/9780203391532.
replicant, n. : Oxford English Dictionary (no date). Available at: https://www.oed.com/view/Entry/162877?redirectedFrom=replicant#eid (Accessed: 22 April 2020).
Sloat, S. (2017) False Memories in ‘Blade Runner’ Could’ve Been Solved with Science. Available at: https://www.inverse.com/article/37496-blade-runner-2049-false-memories-ryan-gosling (Accessed: 16 March 2020).
Warner Brothers (2017) Blade Runner 2049 (2017) – IMDb. Available at: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt1856101/?ref_=nv_sr_srsg_0 (Accessed: 5 May 2020).

Prosthetic memory Chapter 2 draft 1.2 pt2

Prosthetic memory Chapter 2 draft 1.2 pt2

ghost in the shell skinny man

prosthetic memory

Prosthetic memory in Science Fiction genre films, continued.

Ghost in the Shell
Ghost In The Shell (2017)

Ghost in the Shell (2017) The live action version of the anime film of the same name, Ghost in the Shell (1995) and shared similarities with the film, Alita: Battle Angel (2019) analysed in chapter one. Consider for example the main protagonist, like Alita, Major Mira Killian is also a cyborg with no memory of her previous life. She only has memories from the time that she was first activated as a cyborg, her previous life as a human is blank with the exception of the false memories that is the prosthetic memories created by the Hanka Corporations scientists. These prosthetic memories were inserted to create a past she never experienced. The prosthetic memory of losing her parents in a terrorist attack on a refugee boat which left her body badly injured with only her brain salvageable following the attack. The brain living on in a mechanical body, which is called a shell, hence the title of the film Ghost in the Shell. In a future where the enhancement of the human body and brain is embraced and normalised, a prosthetic culture as described by Celia Lury in her book of the same name, she states “[h]owever, in post plural society or prosthetic culture, stable or reproducible context has disappeared and is no longer a natural part of every experience, but an artefact that can be altered at will” (Lury, 2013: 31). Major experiences random memories as flashbacks which are described by the Hanka scientists as glitches in her program, for which she takes drugs to repress these memories, in effect Major is the artefact that can be altered at will by her programmers, the Hanka scientists. Major sees images of locations and objects flash into and out of existence, but rather than glitches in her program these are her true memories from her past that are leaking through the chemically induced memory blocks and prosthetic memories created by the Hanka scientists, these are memory flashbacks preceding events before Major became a cyborg.

prosthetic memory ghost in the shell geisha
ghost in the shell geisha

The flashbacks appear randomly throughout the film and unlike other films using flashbacks conventions there appears to be no obvious triggers, for the spectator the identification of the flashback sequences are the visuals, that is the glitching images, image pixellation and colour shifts to indicate these are flashback memories. Major is captured by Kuze who connects her to his cyber network to access her memories and control her but then releases her. At this point she sees the image of the shrine, the identical one from her memories revealed in flashbacks blazoned on his chest, visually linking Kuze to Major’s past. Kuze reveals he is also a product of the project 2571 to create a living, functioning Cyborg, his experiment a failure, one of 98 such failures and he is now seeking revenge for what they did to him by killing all of those involved. Major begins to question her prosthetic memories, her only memories of a past life as a human, which as Landsberg states “[p]rosthetic memories originate outside a person’s lived experience and yet are taken on and worn by that person through mass cultural technologies of memory.” (Landsberg, 2004: 19).

ghost in the shell
Ghost in the Shell skinny man interrogation

The prosthetic memories of the captured assassin is revealed In the interrogation scene with the driver of the refuse truck, sent to assassinate one of those involved in Project 2571, Dr Oulet. The driver is revealed to have prosthetic memories of a life he never had. A family and daughter that do not exist. His memories replaced by the prosthetic memories inserted into his mind by Kuze, who activated him while seated in his truck and directed to crash into Dr Oulet’s car and assassinate her. After the failed assignation attempt and Kuze’s revealing his direct involvement by speaking through the body of the truck driver. Major confronts Dr Oulet about her past life, Project 2571 and the false memories, Dr Oulet who is now under orders from Cutter to terminate Major who he now considers to be a danger to his project. However, she disobeys Cutters orders and assists in her escape and giving Major an address to go to in the attempt to regain her true memories and overriding the prosthetic memories inserted by the corporation. However, Dr Oulet pays for this disloyalty and is killed by Cutter. Major breaks free from the laboratory, steals a motorcycle to the address where she finds the shrine that appears in her flashbacks. This location also triggers a flashback to the events before the prosthetic memories were inserted, back to before the start of it all. The images of Cutter and his men attacking and dragging away the children, for use in their experiments to create the perfect weapon, a cyborg, the conjoining of the human brain to a bio mechanical body. This is Major’s true origin, not a survivor of a terrorist attack but abducted by Cutter for his experiments through the Hanka Corporation. Kuze joins her at the shrine and he reveals her real name as Motoko Kusanagi, that they were friends and abducted together. (Opam, 2017). The truth is revealed in flashbacks not using conventional triggers (see chapter one) to initiate the flashback scenes. However, the spectator is aware that they are watching a flashback as visually the images are fragmented like a corrupted data file with some of the data missing, creating an imperfect image that eventually breaks up and disappears. Identity and memory are called into question as Major narrates in the final scenes “My mind is human. My body is manufactured. I am the first of my kind, but I won’t be the last. We cling to memories as if they define us, but what we do defines us. My ghost survived to remind the next of us that humanity is our virtue. I know who I am, and what I’m here to do.” (Anon, 2017).

Bibliography

Anon (2017) Ghost in the Shell (2017) – Quotes – IMDb. Available at: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt1219827/quotes?ref_=tttrv_sa_3 (Accessed: 21 January 2020).
Bordwell, D., Thompson, K. and Smith, J. (2016) Film Art: Creativity, Technology, and Business, Film Art: An Introduction.
Hayward, S. (2018) Cinema Studies The Key Concepts. Fitth, Book. Fitth.
Landsberg, A. (2004) Prosthetic Memory : The Transformation of American Remembrance in the Age of Mass Culture. New York: Columbia University Press. Available at: http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=nlebk&AN=107227&site=ehost-live&authtype=ip,shib&user=s1523151.
Landsberg, A. (2009) ‘Memory, empathy, and the politics of identification’, International Journal of Politics, Culture and Society, 22(2), pp. 221–229. doi: 10.1007/s10767-009-9056-x.
Landsberg, A. (2016) ‘Prosthetic Memory: Total Recall and Blade Runner’, Body & society. SAGE Publications, 1(3–4), pp. 175–189. doi: 10.1177/1357034×95001003010.
Lury, C. (2013) Prosthetic Culture, Prosthetic Culture. doi: 10.4324/9780203425251.
Opam, K. (2017) Ghost in the Shell review: a solid film built on a broken foundation – The Verge. Available at: https://www.theverge.com/2017/3/29/15114902/ghost-in-the-shell-review-scarlett-johansson (Accessed: 21 January 2020).
Radstone, S. and Hodgkin, K. (2003) Regimes of memory, Regimes of Memory. doi: 10.4324/9780203391532.
replicant, n. : Oxford English Dictionary (no date). Available at: https://www.oed.com/view/Entry/162877?redirectedFrom=replicant#eid (Accessed: 22 April 2020).
Sloat, S. (2017) False Memories in ‘Blade Runner’ Could’ve Been Solved with Science. Available at: https://www.inverse.com/article/37496-blade-runner-2049-false-memories-ryan-gosling (Accessed: 16 March 2020).
Warner Brothers (2017) Blade Runner 2049 (2017) – IMDb. Available at: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt1856101/?ref_=nv_sr_srsg_0 (Accessed: 5 May 2020).

Prosthetic Memory – Chapter 2 draft 1.2

Prosthetic Memory – Chapter 2 draft 1.2

Blade Runner 2049

Prosthetic memory

Prosthetic Memory

What is Prosthetic Memory? Landsberg states “Prosthetic memories are adopted as the result of a person’s experience with a mass cultural technology of memory that dramatises or recreates a history he or she did not live”. (Landsberg, 2004: 28) and provides an early example of prosthetic memory in cinema by referencing the film, The Thieving Hand (1908).

The Thieving Hand (1908)

Literally a prosthetic arm with its own memories of past events, a life of thieving learned from its previous owner. The prosthetic arm upon attachment to a beggar controls the beggars’ actions. The prosthetic arm independently from the beggar’s control, steals from people, which ultimately leads to the incarceration of the beggar as a thief. However, as this example reveals prosthetic memory isn’t limited to advanced technology. This definition appears to be relevant to any form of technology and without this early example it would be too simple to assume that this limits the definition of prosthetic memory to current technology and for example the Science Fiction genre films. However, Science Fiction genre films are prevalent with excellent examples, including Blade Runner (1982), Blade Runner 2049 (2017), Total Recall (1990) and (2012), The Matrix (1999), Johnny Mnemonic (1995) and many others with the theme, prosthetic memory significant to the narrative. However, I would argue that in media there are many examples of prosthetic memory. Less advanced technology examples exist, for instance the reading of a book, by reading a novel you are experiencing the lives and memories of the characters in the novel, memories that you did not experience directly. Another example the consumption of History books describing events set in the past create prosthetic memories for the reader who could not have directly experienced these events. These events would also be open to manipulation by historians and government, with their own cultural viewpoint applying bias to these events in a similar fashion to the film editor choosing what to include, exclude using personal bias.
For the purposes of this analysis, I will concentrate on films from the latter half of the 20th century to date.

Science Fiction genre films – Prosthetic memory

Some science fiction films, like Blade Runner and Total Recall, explore the effects of technology on memory, literalizing prosthetic memory. In so doing, these films disrupt some basic postmodern assumptions about experience. (Landsberg, 2004)

Let us consider the above quotation with postmodernism used to identify a period of film production for science fiction genre films with artificial memory as a theme. For example Hayward states “ …some critics feel that postmodernism (also known as ‘the postmodern’) refers more to an age – particularly the 1980s and 1990s, although it is still ongoing…” (Hayward, 2018: 315). It is interesting to note the advancement of the prosthetic memory as a theme with films from the 1980’s such as Blade Runner (1982) and Total Recall (1990).
flashbacks blade runner 2049Consider Blade Runner 2049 (2017) and its prequel these two films are almost a definition for advanced technology and prosthetic memory. The film follows on from the original Blade Runner (1982) “Thirty years after the events of Blade Runner (1982), a new Blade Runner, L.A.P.D. Officer “K” (Ryan Gosling), unearths a long-buried secret that has the potential to plunge what’s left of society into chaos. K’s discovery leads him on a quest to find Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford), a former L.A.P.D. Blade Runner, who has been missing for thirty years”. (Warner Brothers, 2017) As the producer’s state, this sequel follows on from the original Blade Runner (1982) albeit with a 30-year gap from where in the final scenes of the extended version of the film (The Directors Cut, 1992) Deckard and Rachael are together in Deckard’s flying car escaping for a new life, somewhere outside of Los Angeles. The spectator is left to make their own conclusions as to what happens to them in the future, with the narrator suggesting that Rachael might not have the limited 4-year life span of a replicant, which is one of the key premises for the film, the replicants seeking an extension to their limited 4 year life span.
The sequel opens with “K” a replicant and a Bladerunner tracking down an escaped older model replicant (is this a plot hole, 4-year lifespan?). The definition of a replicant is stated as being, [r]eplicant, an artificial being in the form of a human or other creature; an android. (replicant, n. : Oxford English Dictionary, no date) replicants are banned from returning to Earth) The replicant, Morton is hiding out in a protein farm, farming what appear to be grubs that are rich in protein. “K” having retired the replicant Morton is about to leave when he is drawn to a dead tree where he discovers buried under the tree a box containing what appears to be human bones. In subsequent scenes these bones are identified as being from a replicant, with detailed investigation they find a serial number etched into the bones which identifies the bones as belonging to the replicant Rachael. Rachael is dead, she died in childbirth, which is supposed to be impossible for a replicant to reproduce, but nonetheless she appears to have had a living child according to the post-mortem examiner, with Deckard assumed to be the father. The original Bladerunner (1982) film created the possibility that Deckard was either human or also potentially a replicant, because he loses his empathy which a replicant does not have. In Bladerunner 2049 “K”, Bladerunner is aware from the outset that he is a replicant, that his memories are prosthetic. The prosthetic memories of his childhood have supposedly been created by a memory fabricator and implanted. Yet “K” is driven to investigate them as he becomes unsure whether these memories are prosthetic or real, which as Landsberg states “… people might no longer be able to distinguish cinematic memories from lived ones, the “prosthetic” from the “real” (Landsberg, 2004).

Blade Runner 2049
Blade Runner 2049

One of the key prosthetic memories are of events from his childhood, of a wooden toy horse. In the scene where K returns to the farm to continue his investigation around the dead tree, he finds a number cut into its trunk. This number 61021, a date cut into the base of the dead tree the location where he found Rachael’s bones, links him to the prosthetic memory of his childhood, the same date cut into one of the hooves of his wooden toy horse. The full prosthetic memory of him hiding the horse in the ashes of a furnace we visit in a flashback, where he is trying to escape a group of children who are trying to take the wooden horse away from him, they beat him to try and get him to tell them where he has hidden the horse. However, in the chronological timeline with “K” in the scene where he is investigating in the orphanage/workhouse he appears to remember this event. For while checking the old registers for children’s names, hoping to find the name of Rachael’s child “K” is drawn to search among the now abandoned and cold furnaces and while routing through the ashes he finds the wooden horse. His prosthetic memories now lead him to believe that his childhood memories are not prosthetic after all, that they are real, and that he is Rachael’s child. In subsequent scenes “K” learns that this memory is real and taken from a child, but in these later scenes with “Dr Ana Stelline, a memory fabricator” (Sloat, 2017), she hides from “K” that these are her own childhood memories that “K” is remembering as his own. She herself is unaware that she is the child of a replicant, these are her memories, she is the child that was running away from a group of boys and hiding her toy, the wooden horse (which was carved by Deckard). That it is her memories implanted into “K” now forming part of K’s prosthetic memories that has driven K’s investigation into his (fake) past, that ultimately led him search for and to find Deckard. Deckard who has been in hiding in a deserted and radioactive Las Vegas for nearly 30 years. This investigation that eventually drives Deckard to meet his daughter. But why is “K” angry after talking to the memory fabricator? “K” is once again certain that he is a replicant and his early memories are again all prosthetic, for a time he believed he was the child of Rachael and Deckard and his memories not prosthetic, that is he came to believe that his childhood memory of hiding the horse was his memory of events and real, not prosthetic. These memories reinforced by his investigation leading to the discovery of the real wooden horse from his memories this seemed to definitively prove that he was the child of the replicants Dekhard (there is still an ongoing debate that Dekhard is a replicant) and Rachael. Now K’s world has collapsed, he is unsure of all of his memory’s both prosthetic and real, for can he be certain that any of his memories are real, are his recent memories of actual events his own memories accrued over time since his activation or are these too fabricated? At their meeting Dr Ana Stelline the memory fabricator states that “people think the best memories are the most detailed, but memories are all about the feelings, memories should be a mist”. But all she reveals to “K” is that this memory is real, and that someone has lived it throwing him into this confused state.

Bibliography

Anon (2017) Ghost in the Shell (2017) – Quotes – IMDb. Available at: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt1219827/quotes?ref_=tttrv_sa_3 (Accessed: 21 January 2020).
Bordwell, D., Thompson, K. and Smith, J. (2016) Film Art: Creativity, Technology, and Business, Film Art: An Introduction.
Hayward, S. (2018) Cinema Studies The Key Concepts. Fitth, Book. Fitth.
Landsberg, A. (2004) Prosthetic Memory : The Transformation of American Remembrance in the Age of Mass Culture. New York: Columbia University Press. Available at: http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=nlebk&AN=107227&site=ehost-live&authtype=ip,shib&user=s1523151.
Landsberg, A. (2009) ‘Memory, empathy, and the politics of identification’, International Journal of Politics, Culture and Society, 22(2), pp. 221–229. doi: 10.1007/s10767-009-9056-x.
Landsberg, A. (2016) ‘Prosthetic Memory: Total Recall and Blade Runner’, Body & society. SAGE Publications, 1(3–4), pp. 175–189. doi: 10.1177/1357034×95001003010.
Lury, C. (2013) Prosthetic Culture, Prosthetic Culture. doi: 10.4324/9780203425251.
Opam, K. (2017) Ghost in the Shell review: a solid film built on a broken foundation – The Verge. Available at: https://www.theverge.com/2017/3/29/15114902/ghost-in-the-shell-review-scarlett-johansson (Accessed: 21 January 2020).
Radstone, S. and Hodgkin, K. (2003) Regimes of memory, Regimes of Memory. doi: 10.4324/9780203391532.
replicant, n. : Oxford English Dictionary (no date). Available at: https://www.oed.com/view/Entry/162877?redirectedFrom=replicant#eid (Accessed: 22 April 2020).
Sloat, S. (2017) False Memories in ‘Blade Runner’ Could’ve Been Solved with Science. Available at: https://www.inverse.com/article/37496-blade-runner-2049-false-memories-ryan-gosling (Accessed: 16 March 2020).
Warner Brothers (2017) Blade Runner 2049 (2017) – IMDb. Available at: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt1856101/?ref_=nv_sr_srsg_0 (Accessed: 5 May 2020).

 

In Which We Serve (1942) Films in flashback

Image - In Which We Serve Featured Image

In Which We Serve (1942) Flashback Notes:

In Which We Serve (1942)

The flashback structuration is a concealed compromise between two different mimetic aims on one hand and Hollywood conventions of storytelling and filmmaking on the other. (Turim, 2014: 274)

In Which We Serve

In Which We Serve (1942) Directed by Noel Coward and David Lean is a story of a British warship in World War 2. A patriotic/propaganda film sponsored by the British Government filmed in the war. A film told in Flashback by the Captain and other members of the crew. As the ship is damaged in an air attack by Nazi planes and with the ship sinking, the captain is revealed in the water sinking with his ship. As he floats to the bottom there is a slow dissolve using the imagery of the waves a rippling effect and a fade to black opening to a scene back to when the ship was being commissioned and before sailing. The rippling effects continue into this flashback scene to link the two scenes together. At the same time the music changes to something that invokes a memory of the movement of water. The rippling effect is used again just before the Captains wedding photo is found The flashback ends with a rippling effect and cross fade to the Captain who is still sinking to the depths of the ocean but again using the visual rippling effect and change in music the spectator is returned to the scene of the ships commissioning tied up at the docks and the Captain leaving for home in a chauffeured car. The homecoming scene a pleasant time revealed in flashback as the happy couple toast the scene begins to ripple and the flashback ends with a return to the sinking of the ship, as the Captain floats to the surface and re-joins the chronological timeline the ship appears upside down threatening the lives of the survivors as it begins to roll over with its propellors still turning, the sailors swim through the oily waters to the life raft as the Nazi planes continue to attack strafing the survivors with their machine guns. In Which We Serve Life RaftOne of the men in the life raft appears to be recalling a memory and calls out the name Kath, the visuals of the rippling water is once again deployed to flashback to a scene of home before the war. This time the flashback visuals are accompanied by the sound of the sea overlayed onto the music as the shot cross dissolves to a shot of two people one of them the sailor discussing the likelihood of coming of the war. The scene matching the one between the Captain and his wife, two households at each end of the social classes seemingly in agreement that war is coming and that despite the difference in social class they are all in this together. As the scene plays out the ripple effect visuals and the sound of the sea prepare the spectator for a return to the chronological time line but instead it flashbacks cross fading back in time returning to the scene of the commissioning of the ship and the address by the Captain to the ship’s crew before their first voyage. This would initially confuse the spectator until part of the scene plays out and the disorientation ends? The flashback is sequence provides essential information, the preparedness of the ship and its crew as war is declared. As Turim states “[t]his logic of time and space is ultimately what helps the viewer to distinguish a flashback from a purely imaginary sequence or an arbitrary narrative disruption”. (Turim, 2013: 11)
As war is declared the shot is of the crew on the ship, as the flashback ends with the rippling effect the spectator is returned to the chronological timeline and the crews survivor’s clinging onto and in the life raft with the Nazi planes still flying overhead strafing them. As the Captain looks to the still floating but overturned ship a voiceover from the past a memory of the blessing of the ship and all who sail in her, this precedes the visual of the rippling effect and sound of the waves into a flashback, to a shot of the ships company engaged in singing hymns, it’s Christmas on the ship. In Which We Serve ChristmasAs the flashback continues the scene joins each of the main protagonists as they celebrate Christmas at their respective homes, each separated by class but joined together in celebration, again promoting this feeling of they are all in this war together. As the scene comes to an end the Captains wife echo’s the words from the narration at the start of the flashback, and with the shot rippling, the music overlayed with the sound of the waves the shot crossfades back to the chronological timeline and re-joins the survivors in the life raft as they contemplate the loss of their ship as it begins to sink below the surface. The flashbacks in this film appear to be derived from the personal memories of each of the protagonists and as Turim suggests “If flashbacks give us images of memory, the personal archives of the past, they also give us images of history, the shared and recorded past.” (Turim, 2014: 2) The flashbacks occur with increasing regularity as the survivor’s each revisit memories of events of their home and relationships before the ship sailed, each a personal memory of their lives before the war. Triggered by events and linked through images and sounds, for example the tattoo on the injured sailors arm says ‘Freda’ which links back to a memory of the first meeting between the survivor and Freda on a train journey. This, his future wife, which through another flashback the spectator joins the scene of their marriage before returning back to the chronological timeline and the scene of the life raft.

Bibliography

  • Turim, M. (2013) Flashbacks in film: Memory & history, Flashbacks in Film: Memory & History. Taylor and Francis. doi: 10.4324/9781315851761.
  • Turim, M. C. (2014) Flashbacks in film : Memory & history. Routledge.

Flashbacks Chapter One draft continued part 6

Science Fiction, flashbacks and time travel

Flashbacks are a form of time travel, a jump into the past, in a flashback, or a leap into the future in a flashforward. Science fiction genre is the epitome for the use of flashbacks, in films where time travel is the central theme of the narrative the spectator is transported back into time either through the memory of a character in flashback or a telling flashback the past events revealed through a narrator or protagonist of the time and not from the future. In the science fiction film Interstellar (2014),

Flashbacks Interstellar
Interstellar movie poster

Cooper a former astronaut is coerced into piloting a space mission to save humans from a dying planet. Earth is experiencing a blight, its crops are failing, the soil blown across the land in an endless cloud of dust. Flashbacks are used to link Cooper back to his past and to his daughter while she was just a child and later as an adult on the family farm. What is interesting is that the flashbacks that Cooper and his daughter experience are triggered by Coopers actions in the future and in travelling back in time to events in his past from his current time and place in interstellar space. This may be a rare example of flashbacks and time travel it could be argued that all flashbacks are forms of time travel as Maria Lopes, visual artist and researcher states … the techniques of flashback to depict a relationship between present and past or between mental associations and psychological meaning or significance of past events…” (Lopes, Ncc and Bastos, 2019: 2). For example a flashback links Cooper back to a past event which simultaneously reminds the spectator of a key element into the film, Cooper, his faceplate cracked in the attempt on his life, struggles to breathe, his faceplate begins to fog, which precedes a jump into a flashback to an event in the past to the scene where Cooper presents his daughter with an identical watch to his own that he is taking with him on his mission into space. The flashback ends as his daughter flings the watch away from her. The shot cutting back to the scene of Cooper back on the planet still struggling to breathe. The reason for this flashback is to remind the spectator of the significance of the watch for when in another flashback sequence, the importance of the watch becomes apparent. In another flashback Cooper enters the Black Holes event horizon. He sees his daughter and himself repeated in infinity. Each iteration a flashback, back to memories of and events between Cooper and his daughter.

Flashbacks time travel
Inside the Tesseract BTS

These memories are of the messages sent back into the past by a time travelling Cooper that are manifested within her bedroom. The books fallen from the bookshelves attributed to a poltergeist, the altered gravity revealed by the tracks in the floors dust. In the flashback we see Cooper from a relative position in time and space but also seemingly behind the bookcase. strumming the strings of gravity to create the gravity lines in the dust on the bedroom floor. Flashback to the memory of Cooper slamming shut his daughter’s bedroom window as the dust storm rages around the house revealing the gravity tracks in the dusty floor, we see Cooper of the future viewing himself in the flashback closing the window while looking through the back of the bookcase while still in a distant future and interstellar space. A shared past between Cooper and his daughter, as Turim suggests “If flashbacks give us images of memory, the personal archives of the past, they also give us images of history, the shared and recorded past.” (Turim, 2014: 15). Most of the flashbacks are centred around Coopers memories of his daughter and her, as its turned-out well-founded belief that someone was trying to send her a message. But as some of the flashbacks are to a time where Coopers daughter is an adult and from a time after Cooper had left the Earth and therefore Cooper could not have been present at these points in time and therefore these flashbacks would be external or telling and could not be derived from his own memory. Turim argues that “[t]he telling or remembering of the past within a film can be self-conscious, contradictory, or ironic. Some
flashback narratives actually take as their project the questioning of the reconstruction of the historical.” (Turim, 2014: 15). Interstellar (2014) is a confusing film for the spectator in many ways with the use of flashbacks and the concept of time travel manipulating the films timeline transporting the past into the future and the future into the past. This is made apparent in the flashback sequence where Cooper who has time travelled back into the past reaches out and into the spaceships hull as it travels through the wormhole. This scene towards the end of the film links back to the earlier scene where it is revealed in flashback that It is Coopers hand that reached through to the ship to as the Endurance entered the Black hole. Turim states…”the flashback in film is a cinematic device that fully exploits the
properties of successive moving images.” (Turim, 2014: 35). This is an important observation, the timeline of a film progresses in successive moving images, but the flashback allows the filmmaker to break into this linear sequence of images and to insert another successive sequence of images but from another time, from the future or past. flashbacks blade runner 2049In the film Blade Runner 2049 (2017) one of K’s memories from his childhood is of a wooden toy horse. In the scene where K returns to the farm to continue his investigation at the dead tree, he finds a number, 61031 cut into its base, this triggers a flashback to a memory of a toy he once owned, a wooden horse which had the same number cut into one of the hooves. But “K” is a replicant a bio robot and his original memories before activation are all prosthetic, given to him by his creators.
Prosthetic memories are adopted as the result of a person’s experience with a mass cultural technology of memory that dramatizes or recreates a history he or she did not live. (Landsberg, 2004: 28)
Memory is central to the narrative of Blade Runner 2049 (2017), this will be further explored in chapter 2 on prosthetic memory.

Bibliography

Alexander Pope – The British Library (no date). Available at: https://www.bl.uk/people/alexander-pope (Accessed: 21 June 2020).
Ansell-Pearson, K. (1994) An Introduction to Nietzsche as Political Thinker, An Introduction to Nietzsche as Political Thinker. Cambridge University Press. doi: 10.1017/cbo9780511606144.
Bordwell, D. (1979) ‘The Art Cinema as a Mode of Film Practice.’, Film Criticism, 4(1), pp. 56–64. Available at: https://www.jstor.org/stable/44018650?seq=1#metadata_info_tab_contents (Accessed: 8 May 2020).
Bordwell, D. (2009) Observations on film art : Grandmaster flashback. Available at: http://www.davidbordwell.net/blog/2009/01/27/grandmaster-flashback/ (Accessed: 12 March 2020).
Bordwell, D. (2017) Reinventing Hollywood: How 1940s Filmmakers Changed Movie Storytelling.
Bordwell, D., Staiger, J. and Thompson, K. (2002) The classical Hollywood Cinema Film Style & Mode of Production to 1960.
Bordwell, D., Thompson, K. and Smith, J. (2016) Film Art: Creativity, Technology, and Business, Film Art: An Introduction.
Boucher, G. (2019) ‘The Limey’ At 20: Steven Soderbergh Revisits His “Vortex Of Terror” – Deadline. Available at: https://deadline.com/2019/12/steven-soderbergh-looks-back-the-limey-his-personal-vortex-of-terror-1202792732/ (Accessed: 10 February 2020).
Colman, F. (2012) Film, theory and philosophy: The key thinkers, Film, Theory and Philosophy: The Key Thinkers. doi: 10.5860/choice.48-0157.
Fear, D. (2019) Steven Soderbergh on the 20th Anniversary of ‘The Limey’ – Rolling Stone. Available at: https://www.rollingstone.com/movies/movie-features/steven-soderbergh-interview-20th-anniversary-limey-921006/ (Accessed: 5 February 2020).
Geiger, J. and Rutsky, R. . (2005) Film Analysis. A Norton Reader. First. Edited by J. Geiger and R. . Rutsky. W. W. Norton & Company: Inc.
King, G. (2013) What Else Is Lost with Memory Loss? Memory and Identity in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind – Bright Lights Film Journal. Available at: https://brightlightsfilm.com/what-else-is-lost-with-memory-loss-memory-and-identity-in-eternal-sunshine-of-the-spotless-mind/#.XiA2t-LANp9 (Accessed: 16 January 2020).
Landsberg, A. (2004) Prosthetic Memory : The Transformation of American Remembrance in the Age of Mass Culture. New York: Columbia University Press. Available at: http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=nlebk&AN=107227&site=ehost-live&authtype=ip,shib&user=s1523151.
Lopes, M. M., Ncc, I. and Bastos, P. B. (2019) ‘Memory ( Enhancement ) and Cinema : an exploratory creative overview’.
Musgrove, M. (2013) ‘Nestor ’ s Centauromachy and the Deceptive Voice of Poetic Memory ( Ovid Met . 12 . 182-535 ) Author ( s ): Margaret W . Musgrove Reviewed work ( s ): Published by : The University of Chicago Press Stable URL : http://www.jstor.org/stable/270542 . War and’, 93(3), pp. 223–231.
Pramaggiore, M. (2008) Film : a critical introduction. 2nd ed. Edited by T. Wallis. London: Laurence King.
Radstone, S. (2007) ‘Trauma theory: Contexts, politics, ethics’, Paragraph. Edinburgh University Press, 30(1), pp. 9–29. doi: 10.3366/prg.2007.0015.
Radstone, S. (2010) ‘Cinema and memory’, in Memory: Histories, Theories, Debates. Fordham University Press, pp. 325–342.
Rodriguez, E. (2016) Flashback | cinematography and literature | Britannica, Encyclopaedia Britannica. Available at: https://www.britannica.com/art/flashback (Accessed: 3 June 2020).
Salt, B. (1992) Film style and technology : history and analysis. 2nd ed. London: Starword.
Turim, M. (2013) Flashbacks in film: Memory & history, Flashbacks in Film: Memory & History. Taylor and Francis. doi: 10.4324/9781315851761.
Turim, M. C. (2014) Flashbacks in film : Memory & history. Routledge.

 

Flashbacks Chapter One Draft continued part 5

The Limey Wilson on plane screenshot

Flashbacks

Flashbacks exploring their use in The Limey (1999)

Flashbacks and The Limey (1999) Wilson in car scene
The Limey (1999) Wilson in Los Angeles

What this means is that through flashbacks the spectator can experience the past and memories of a character even if they have forgotten them, as in the case studies taken from Still Alice (2014) and The Notebook (2004). However, Caruth the literary theorist argues, for instance, that “[w]hat returns in the flashback is not simply an overwhelming experience that has been obstructed by a later repression or amnesia, but an event that is itself constituted, in part, by its lack of integration into consciousness.” (Radstone, 2007 :9). While these case studies may not be considered directly drawn from trauma, I would argue that the effects are similar, that the loss of memory and identity must be traumatic.

The Limey movie poster smallIn the case study of the film The Limey (1999) the narrative has multiple examples of using flashbacks. Through these flashbacks and the creative use of the editing process appears to make it seem as if the film is always looking backwards as the Director intended, the fragmented editing process represents the fragmentation of the main protagonist’s, Wilson’s memory. In an interview for Rolling Stone magazine the director Soderbergh states that “[g]iven its premise, it seemed there was some possibility to recraft it into a memory piece”. (Fear, 2019) There are flashbacks within flashbacks and flashbacks looking back to a past that Wilson could not have participated. For example, the flashback to a past with appears to be a young Wilson and Jenny, this what we would call a meta-flashback with footage sourced from another film, by the Director Ken Loach, Poor Cow (1967). This meta-flashback integrates so well into The Limey’s linear timeline so that the spectator doesn’t

Flashback to Poor Cow 1967 Dir. Ken Loach
Poor Cow (1967) Dir. Ken Loach

need to imagine a younger Wilson or Jenny they can relate directly through to the characters past through this flashback. The fragmentation of Wilsons memory represented in a montage of flashbacks as Turim argues “…the “flashback” is outside of a narrative frame though it bears within it its own narrative elements and a notion of being of the past, a past not regained, but reframed in montage with other found footage in rapid fragmentation. (Turim, 2014: 275). I have identified (see Oldboy 2003) that flashbacks can be triggered by a personal experience, an image, sound, a smell from the senses, that can be used to trigger these memories of past events. While in some films these triggers are not always evident however the spectator can infer that they are there, in this case they are experienced by Wilson, for example the contents of a letter triggering flashback memories, a visual montage of his fragmented past with his daughter, Jenny, while Wilson was in and out of prison. In addition, Wilson also experiences a flashforward, a prolepsis, triggered visually by a solitary photograph of Wilson’s daughter, Jenny, during his wandering around the protagonist Valentines home.

The Limey shooting Valentine in flashbacks
Wilson imagines various scenarios of him killing Valentine

The flashforwards appear as alternative futures and all are violent. In this scene Wilson visualises the alternative outcomes/possibilities of killing Valentine, futures that do not come to fruition as he is stopped before execution. As I have argued previously not all flashbacks are character memory derived, Robert Sinnerbrink a philosopher and film theorist argues that the theories of Hugo Münsterberg a pioneer of applied psychology and the strength of the relationship between memory and flashbacks in film. He states “[w]hile it is certainly true that flashbacks are often connected with a particular character, it is not clear that we should simply assume that these “belong” to the character in question or, more bizarrely, that they are an “objectification” of his or her mental processes (most flashbacks are about rather than of a character).” (Colman, 2012: 24). This seems to appropriately explain some of the editing decisions made in The Limey (1999) with the defragmentation of the film sequences and montage of the flashbacks. The use of montage the joining of sequences in non linear order and out of sequence shots, these sequence of flashbacks which are of events that Wilson could and could not have been present, the mixture of those derived and not derived from his memories and therefore external or telling flashbacks. Bordwell argues “[r]evelation flashbacks and reminder flashbacks can blend to create the replay flashback. Here we revisit incidents we have already seen or heard (so it’s a reminder), but we also learn about aspects of the action that weren’t previously shown (so it’s a revelation too)”. (Bordwell, 2017: 77).

Wilsons fragmented memory represented through the use on montage, the fragmented editing process is intended to confuse the spectator and represent the fragmented state of Wilsons memory. However, using reminder flashbacks and returning to a scene or a shot reminds the spectator of key elements of the narrative, for example the shots of Wilson seated on the plane is revisited several times, asking the spectator to decide if Wilson is arriving or departing or possibly just a shot of Wilson recalling a memory? As I mentioned in my opening statement and it is worth mentioning again the interview between Geoff Boucher editor of the online magazine Hollywood Deadline in an interview with the director, where Soderbergh is reported to have said that “[w]e created or tried to create, meaning and emotion through repetition and juxtaposition, which again, is something that’s unique to movies. The ability to mould something and then change the meaning or alter the meaning just by reordering and repeating things, that’s unique in film.” (Boucher, 2019).

Bibliography

Alexander Pope – The British Library (no date). Available at: https://www.bl.uk/people/alexander-pope (Accessed: 21 June 2020).
Ansell-Pearson, K. (1994) An Introduction to Nietzsche as Political Thinker, An Introduction to Nietzsche as Political Thinker. Cambridge University Press. doi: 10.1017/cbo9780511606144.
Bordwell, D. (1979) ‘The Art Cinema as a Mode of Film Practice.’, Film Criticism, 4(1), pp. 56–64. Available at: https://www.jstor.org/stable/44018650?seq=1#metadata_info_tab_contents (Accessed: 8 May 2020).
Bordwell, D. (2009) Observations on film art : Grandmaster flashback. Available at: http://www.davidbordwell.net/blog/2009/01/27/grandmaster-flashback/ (Accessed: 12 March 2020).
Bordwell, D. (2017) Reinventing Hollywood: How 1940s Filmmakers Changed Movie Storytelling.
Bordwell, D., Staiger, J. and Thompson, K. (2002) The classical Hollywood Cinema Film Style & Mode of Production to 1960.
Bordwell, D., Thompson, K. and Smith, J. (2016) Film Art: Creativity, Technology, and Business, Film Art: An Introduction.
Boucher, G. (2019) ‘The Limey’ At 20: Steven Soderbergh Revisits His “Vortex Of Terror” – Deadline. Available at: https://deadline.com/2019/12/steven-soderbergh-looks-back-the-limey-his-personal-vortex-of-terror-1202792732/ (Accessed: 10 February 2020).
Colman, F. (2012) Film, theory and philosophy: The key thinkers, Film, Theory and Philosophy: The Key Thinkers. doi: 10.5860/choice.48-0157.
Fear, D. (2019) Steven Soderbergh on the 20th Anniversary of ‘The Limey’ – Rolling Stone. Available at: https://www.rollingstone.com/movies/movie-features/steven-soderbergh-interview-20th-anniversary-limey-921006/ (Accessed: 5 February 2020).
Geiger, J. and Rutsky, R. . (2005) Film Analysis. A Norton Reader. First. Edited by J. Geiger and R. . Rutsky. W. W. Norton & Company: Inc.
King, G. (2013) What Else Is Lost with Memory Loss? Memory and Identity in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind – Bright Lights Film Journal. Available at: https://brightlightsfilm.com/what-else-is-lost-with-memory-loss-memory-and-identity-in-eternal-sunshine-of-the-spotless-mind/#.XiA2t-LANp9 (Accessed: 16 January 2020).
Landsberg, A. (2004) Prosthetic Memory : The Transformation of American Remembrance in the Age of Mass Culture. New York: Columbia University Press. Available at: http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=nlebk&AN=107227&site=ehost-live&authtype=ip,shib&user=s1523151.
Lopes, M. M., Ncc, I. and Bastos, P. B. (2019) ‘Memory ( Enhancement ) and Cinema : an exploratory creative overview’.
Musgrove, M. (2013) ‘Nestor ’ s Centauromachy and the Deceptive Voice of Poetic Memory ( Ovid Met . 12 . 182-535 ) Author ( s ): Margaret W . Musgrove Reviewed work ( s ): Published by : The University of Chicago Press Stable URL : http://www.jstor.org/stable/270542 . War and’, 93(3), pp. 223–231.
Pramaggiore, M. (2008) Film : a critical introduction. 2nd ed. Edited by T. Wallis. London: Laurence King.
Radstone, S. (2007) ‘Trauma theory: Contexts, politics, ethics’, Paragraph. Edinburgh University Press, 30(1), pp. 9–29. doi: 10.3366/prg.2007.0015.
Radstone, S. (2010) ‘Cinema and memory’, in Memory: Histories, Theories, Debates. Fordham University Press, pp. 325–342.
Rodriguez, E. (2016) Flashback | cinematography and literature | Britannica, Encyclopaedia Britannica. Available at: https://www.britannica.com/art/flashback (Accessed: 3 June 2020).
Salt, B. (1992) Film style and technology : history and analysis. 2nd ed. London: Starword.
Turim, M. (2013) Flashbacks in film: Memory & history, Flashbacks in Film: Memory & History. Taylor and Francis. doi: 10.4324/9781315851761.
Turim, M. C. (2014) Flashbacks in film : Memory & history. Routledge.

 

Flashbacks Chapter One Draft part 4

Flashbacks

Anna Fashion Shoot
Anna Fashion Shoot turns violent

Flashbacks reveal character information

Anna Movie Poster Small
Anna (2019) by Luc Besson Movie Poster

Anna (2019) a film where the linear timeline is proliferated with flashbacks and flashbacks within flashbacks, each of which is essential to the scene, for the spectators understanding of the main protagonist’s actions and the film’s progression. The flashbacks are extended so much so that the flashbacks within the flashbacks are also extensive as Bordwell states “[e]xtended flashback sequences usually include material that the remembering character could not have witnessed or known. Character memory is simply a convenient immediate motivation for a shift in chronology; once the shift is accomplished, there are no constant cues to remind us that we are supposedly in someone’s mind. (Bordwell, Staiger and Thompson, 2002: 43).

Casablanca (1942) Movie Poster
Casablanca (1942) Movie Poster

This statement appears to be particularly relevant to the flashback sequence in Casablanca (1942) which I mention elsewhere in this chapter. In the case of Anna (2019) each of the flashbacks revisiting memories from Anna’s past and expanding upon her character’s origins with details essential to understanding through these flashbacks how and what is happening in the chronological timeline. The flashback sequences are clearly identified, each preceded by an intertitle with date information indicating how many years in the past for each event that is revealed in flashback. Without these flashback sequences the spectator would be left uncomprehending as without the character information revealed in the flashbacks, the linear timeline and the narrative would be proliferated with holes/gaps in the narrative. Referring back to my opening statement on the director Soderbergh and as Bordwell states “The story is the chain of events in chronological order. But as we’ve seen, that story may be presented in various ways. If we use flashbacks instead of linear time, or if we decide to organize events around one character rather than another, or if we make other choices about presentation, we will be creating a different plot. (Bordwell, Thompson and Smith, 2016: 75). For an example of what Bordwell is referring to regarding flashbacks changing the plot in the above quotation, see my paragraph on the film The Limey (1999). How manipulating the narrative through the editing process, the timeline and the sequences of the flashbacks creates a totally different narrative from the original screenplay when compared with what a completely linear timeline would have looked like.

In Anna (2019) the flashbacks use classical conventions for entering and exiting for example, flashes to white, fades a cross dissolve combined with the sounds of a camera’s shutter operation. A lengthy flashback with flashbacks within it, provides some of the origins of Anna’s character to inform the spectator through these flashback sequences details of her background and her training as a spy. The flashbacks inform the spectator who now has some understanding as to how in one scene a market stall seller in Russia makes the jump into a modelling job in the Paris fashion industry. Then in a later scene from fashion model to an International assassin. This fits in perfectly with a quotation by Bordwell who states “Most obviously, a flashback can explain why one character acts as she or he does.” (Bordwell, 2009). The use of intertitles at the beginning and the end of the sequence clearly indicates the start and ending of the flashback and where in the past that the events occur, although the much earlier childhood flashbacks are not so indicated, instead these use the classical conventions of fades, sound and flashes to white to enter and exit the flashback sequences. As Bordwell states “If your flashbacks skip around a lot, you might worry about viewers’ losing their bearings. So to help out, you might add superimposed titles identifying the time and place of the scene.” (Bordwell, Thompson and Smith, 2016: 75). The concept of using intertitles to indicate changes in the linear timeline, harks back to early silent cinema and classical Hollywood cinema, but as I have already discussed this has also been used in contemporary films for example Anna (2019) and Iron Man (2008).

The Notebook movie poster smallIn another case study the film The Notebook (2004), the flashbacks are used to link to past events, the memories of a past forgotten in its entirety by the central character, Allie. Duke, Allie’s husband uses the notebook, from which the film’s title is derived, as a means of misdirection, to be not seen as drawing upon his own memories in the retelling of what is their story that is revealed in the flashbacks. Duke appears to read from his notebook in the hope that Allie will regain her memory of their past life together. In many respects this misdirection works, as Allie believes the story is of a couple unknown to her, an interesting story of young love. That is true until she has a lucid moment and she remembers that Duke is her husband and the story he has been telling her from the notebook, is their own. One of the possible reasons for this filmmaking approach and the use of the flashbacks is to also keep the spectator in suspense of the identity of the young couple in the flashbacks to create a mystery. That is until a point in the film where it becomes clear that they and the young couple from the flashbacks are one and the same. A useful analogy could be derived from Theatre as Hugo Münsterberg the psychologist argues “[u]nderstanding a theatrical performance, for example, relies on our remembering the sequence of scenes that preceded the one that is before us. A character can draw attention to an earlier scene, stage props, lighting and music can also suggest these to us, but the scene itself cannot be directly “replayed” before our eyes. With film, however, things are different. The act of remembering can be screened, so to speak, before our very eyes thanks to the use of flashbacks. (Colman, 2012: 34).

Bibliography

Alexander Pope – The British Library (no date). Available at: https://www.bl.uk/people/alexander-pope (Accessed: 21 June 2020).
Ansell-Pearson, K. (1994) An Introduction to Nietzsche as Political Thinker, An Introduction to Nietzsche as Political Thinker. Cambridge University Press. doi: 10.1017/cbo9780511606144.
Bordwell, D. (1979) ‘The Art Cinema as a Mode of Film Practice.’, Film Criticism, 4(1), pp. 56–64. Available at: https://www.jstor.org/stable/44018650?seq=1#metadata_info_tab_contents (Accessed: 8 May 2020).
Bordwell, D. (2009) Observations on film art : Grandmaster flashback. Available at: http://www.davidbordwell.net/blog/2009/01/27/grandmaster-flashback/ (Accessed: 12 March 2020).
Bordwell, D. (2017) Reinventing Hollywood: How 1940s Filmmakers Changed Movie Storytelling.
Bordwell, D., Staiger, J. and Thompson, K. (2002) The classical Hollywood Cinema Film Style & Mode of Production to 1960.
Bordwell, D., Thompson, K. and Smith, J. (2016) Film Art: Creativity, Technology, and Business, Film Art: An Introduction.
Boucher, G. (2019) ‘The Limey’ At 20: Steven Soderbergh Revisits His “Vortex Of Terror” – Deadline. Available at: https://deadline.com/2019/12/steven-soderbergh-looks-back-the-limey-his-personal-vortex-of-terror-1202792732/ (Accessed: 10 February 2020).
Colman, F. (2012) Film, theory and philosophy: The key thinkers, Film, Theory and Philosophy: The Key Thinkers. doi: 10.5860/choice.48-0157.
Fear, D. (2019) Steven Soderbergh on the 20th Anniversary of ‘The Limey’ – Rolling Stone. Available at: https://www.rollingstone.com/movies/movie-features/steven-soderbergh-interview-20th-anniversary-limey-921006/ (Accessed: 5 February 2020).
Geiger, J. and Rutsky, R. . (2005) Film Analysis. A Norton Reader. First. Edited by J. Geiger and R. . Rutsky. W. W. Norton & Company: Inc.
King, G. (2013) What Else Is Lost with Memory Loss? Memory and Identity in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind – Bright Lights Film Journal. Available at: https://brightlightsfilm.com/what-else-is-lost-with-memory-loss-memory-and-identity-in-eternal-sunshine-of-the-spotless-mind/#.XiA2t-LANp9 (Accessed: 16 January 2020).
Landsberg, A. (2004) Prosthetic Memory : The Transformation of American Remembrance in the Age of Mass Culture. New York: Columbia University Press. Available at: http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=nlebk&AN=107227&site=ehost-live&authtype=ip,shib&user=s1523151.
Lopes, M. M., Ncc, I. and Bastos, P. B. (2019) ‘Memory ( Enhancement ) and Cinema : an exploratory creative overview’.
Musgrove, M. (2013) ‘Nestor ’ s Centauromachy and the Deceptive Voice of Poetic Memory ( Ovid Met . 12 . 182-535 ) Author ( s ): Margaret W . Musgrove Reviewed work ( s ): Published by : The University of Chicago Press Stable URL : http://www.jstor.org/stable/270542 . War and’, 93(3), pp. 223–231.
Pramaggiore, M. (2008) Film : a critical introduction. 2nd ed. Edited by T. Wallis. London: Laurence King.
Radstone, S. (2007) ‘Trauma theory: Contexts, politics, ethics’, Paragraph. Edinburgh University Press, 30(1), pp. 9–29. doi: 10.3366/prg.2007.0015.
Radstone, S. (2010) ‘Cinema and memory’, in Memory: Histories, Theories, Debates. Fordham University Press, pp. 325–342.
Rodriguez, E. (2016) Flashback | cinematography and literature | Britannica, Encyclopaedia Britannica. Available at: https://www.britannica.com/art/flashback (Accessed: 3 June 2020).
Salt, B. (1992) Film style and technology : history and analysis. 2nd ed. London: Starword.
Turim, M. (2013) Flashbacks in film: Memory & history, Flashbacks in Film: Memory & History. Taylor and Francis. doi: 10.4324/9781315851761.
Turim, M. C. (2014) Flashbacks in film : Memory & history. Routledge.