Random Films that have Flashbacks

John Wick (2014) Flashforward. The opening scene of John Wick crashing his SUV into a loading dock, he’s injured, his hands  are bloody,  he crawls to the edge of the loading dock and pulls his phone from his jacket pocket and starts to watch a video of his wife on the beach. He appears to be dying, the shot then fade to black, the main title sequence overlays the scene, JOHN WICK with the sound of an alarm clock. The film is now being revealed in flashback.

In the closing sequence the events that lead to the opening sequence at the docks are played out, the spectator is returned to the opening sequence  Johns wife’s voice can be heard from the phone video, “Time to go home John” with this sound cue the sequence returns to chronological time. John breaks into a vets, self medicates and chooses to take a dog home, closing credits.

The flashforward sequence creates a dramatic opening, without this the start of the film would have been John waking up to an alarm clock. While this would have been an acceptable start to the film, the use of the flashforward brings the action that is to follow right to the beginning of the film.

See The Lives of Others (2006) and Oldboy (2003) for other examples of the use of the flashforward.

Flashbacks in Film: The Lives of Others (2006)

Flashbacks Chapter One Draft continued…


Week 20, 16th March to 20th Coronavirus

NEWS Coronavirus NEWS

It’s been a difficult week with cancellations and closures.

I’d already decided to cancel all my face to face meetings with vulnerable people and groups that form a significant part of my film practice. It means that I will most likely not be able to begin any filming in the current year as hoped.

I had hoped to film some of the flashback sequences but with the closure of buildings and the closure of the kit room that now also seems to be unlikely as is the film society filming for the time being.

The LICA Building is expected to be closed from Monday 23rd until further notice.

On a very minor positive note this will be a good opportunity to continue the literary review and research  as long as access to resources like the library continues to be available. Also I expect with the social restrictions and gatherings I will be able to stay indoors and catch up on some of the many films I wanted to view.

Week 19, 9th March to 13th Coronavirus

NEWS Coronavirus effects classes and face to face meetings NEWS

Continuing working on the chapter notes for flashbacks in films.

Film analysis on the science fiction film Interstellar (2014)  and the drama The Lives of Others (2003). Both have flashbacks but they are used differently. links can be found here:-

The Lives of Others (2006) Movie Poster
Interstellar movie poster








Film Production

Arranged to meet with a professional dancer to work on one of my experimental film projects.

I discussed filming one half day in the Installation Studio and a second half day in an external location to be decided. The studio dance sequence is expected to have no music only a voiceover of the poem Remember and a special final frame to represent nothingness.

Coronavirus or Covid-19

This virus outbreak, the pandemic is starting to effect normal routines and methods of working, with face to face meetings and courses cancelled. Other restrictions are expected to be applied and therefore I will need to cancel all meetings and visits to vunerable people for the time being.

Week 18. 2nd March to 6th


Supervisor meeting 03/03/2020

Key points about my last submission and todo.

• Discussed having a role model for my writing style.

• My sentences are possibly too long, make them shorter, think of two lines as a good guide to work to, for example one of my sentences was over 80 words long.

• Direct quotes should ideally be linked into the discussion, have a conversation with your quotes, but at this stage they are just notes and they may not even be in your final work. So, carry on with this for now but you may well not use them later.

• For example, you say flashbacks represent history and memory and so you would back this up by referencing say 12 scholars who basically say the same thing. Common practice to list a large number of references but later when you make your own arguments you may only reference a few scholars.

• Don’t worry about giving the plot away when analysing a film, you should describe what the film is trying to do, in film analysis by starting basically from the end of the film and approach the analysis backwards. Your role isn’t to just give a film synopsis, try to find a balance between the review and the analysis. Give spoilers, in my Oldboy analysis it would have been OK to explain the 15 years in the cell and the connection to the opening scene.

• The final section in my analysis of Oldboy was a good example of what a film analysis should look like, so there aren’t many corrections in that section. Best part of the film’s analysis.

• Generalising I should try to do this more often rather than making definitive statements without backing them up, for example I stated that flashforwards are rarely used in comparison to flashbacks.

• Look at how to select films for analysis, at the moment they are films containing flashbacks and usually by Independents (Auteur Directors) rather than Hollywood productions. Have a plan to confine the selection of films, the case studies in the final versions of the chapter. Best case studies?

• Check out Little Women (New version) which has flashbacks and flashforwards that do not use the conventions in entering or leaving a flashback other than by a colour grading change.

• Use my personal experience of cinematography to explain the shot, through choice of lens etc. in the match cuts in Oldboy are they all done in camera or are they digital? Prime Lens or Zoom Lens?

• To say, I think, is OK but do not use it too often, need to back up my personal statements with references, to be more scholarly.

• Word count think about the next stage, for example if you are aiming for an academic route you should think about a 50:50 balance.

• Film Festivals and Conferences, no funding for going to Film Festivals or Exhibitions but attending conferences for example, Film Philosophy, Screen Studies Conference in Glasgow and BAFTSS at St Andrews. So, I usually attend BCS (British Cinematographers Society) and BVE shows, these maybe still relevant for my research.

• Look at and sign up for some relevant mailing lists? Setup specific folders before adding them otherwise my inbox will fill up.


Six monthly review is due soon. Provisionally with both Supervisors in April.

1. Look again at my original proposal and see what has changed and update this.
2. Create a provisional chapter list.
3. Speculative timeline for each stage, work backwards from year 3, leaving plenty of time for the practice element.
4. Agree a word count, a balance between the practice and the written element based on what you are planning to do next with the PhD. Based on my MA I submitted a 50:50 written Vs practical. That’s about 40,000 words, I was thinking about writing c50,000 words?
5. Look at some example PhD thesis online.
6. Write about the reasons, choices and how you planned your current filming as this will feed into your thesis.
7. Possibly set, agree a word count limit with a +/- 10% for future submissions? I was thinking 2,000 words is a good size, 4K to 5K per month?

Writing for submission

Completed writing up the films Anna (2019) and Casablanca (1942) film analysis for the chapter on flashbacks and then uploading as new Journal Entries on my phsjournal.co.uk blog.


Panasonic GH4

Started filming the Horror short film REM (2020) with a group from the Lancaster University Film Production Society. First time using the Panasonic Lumix GH4. Took an age to setup the camera as to how I like to film. Hidden menus and a few camera faults had to be overcome but the footage looks great.

Week 17, February 24th to 28th

More Flashback Research (Classical Hollywood)

Classical Hollywood. Watched several films that have Flashbacks in them and selected 2 to include in the example chapter on memory and flashbacks in Cinema.

Classical Hollywood CinemaAt my last supervisor meeting the book ‘The Classical Hollywood Cinema Film Style & Mode Production to 1960’ by David Bordwell, Janet Staiger, and Kristin Thompson. was suggested, which I promptly searched through for examples of flashbacks, finding 5 relevant passages to include in my next writings.

My Supervisor also mentioned that of course, Casablanca had a good example of early use of a flashback in a Hollywood-produced movie. I’ve added this to my list of movies to analyse for flashbacks.

I’ve updated my blog with the journal and diary entries.

Film Production

I’ve contacted a professional classical dancer who is interested in appearing in my film in one of the flashbacks or what might become a more experimental film – we shall see.

Remember Project Titles

Update “Remember” (2020) is experimental through both its lighting and visuals, the nonlinear editing to represent the memory concepts of flashbacks as explored in chapter one.

Remember Project

Using the poem “Remember” as a creative influence I decided to film a short dance sequence for the visuals with a voice-over. The concept is to represent the loss of memory and integrate this into the much larger practice on the conceptualisation of memory in cinema.

Remember (1849)

Remember me when I am gone away,
Gone far away into the silent land;
When you can no more hold me by the hand,
Nor I half turn to go yet turning stay.
Remember me when no more day by day
You tell me of our future that you planned:
Only remember me; you understand
It will be late to counsel then or pray.

Yet if you should forget me for a while
And afterwards remember, do not grieve:
For if the darkness and corruption leave
A vestige of the thoughts that once I had,
Better by far you should forget and smile
Than that you should remember and be sad.

By Christina Rossetti

Studio session (Monday 17th August 2020)

Two camera setup Canon C300 and Canon 5D MK3.

Concept One. The studio is dark, very dimly lit. Using the 2 light panels. The aim is for the dancer to move in and out of the light and the lens. Visually a silhouette backlighted dancing in front of a static camera. Rim Lighting setup.

Concept Two. The studio is brightly lighted using the house lights. The dancer interacts with the moving camera. No lighting rig was not available so used 4 led lightpanels, setup to cover the performance area. Canon C300 used handheld.

Additional Visuals: Capture close and extreme close movements for both concepts. Hand and foot movements. Face and head movement.


For the performance (performer to supply) Post-production: anything with a regular beat to use as a background to cut to.

Week 16, February 17th and 21st

Mi-do on subway train

Supervisor Meeting 17/02/2020

Attending: Ian Hunt , Bruce Bennett

Feedback on my essay notes –  Films in Flashback.

  • Wrong to state that the films have nothing in common, when they have so much in common.
  • Auteur directors’ films make good case studies and what is interesting about these films is that they are good examples of film form and playing with film form. You should use them to make your argument.
  • Not narrated entirely in Flashback – Yes, I corrected this statement on my blog page.
  • Flashback devices – must be much more detailed, you could easily make a 10,000-word chapter using these film examples. Lots of ways a flashback can be motivated – obvious is a problematic term. Explain in detail these devices.
  • Look in detail at the Limey as the flashbacks are not always memory related?
  • The question is what is a flashback showing us?
  • American film is realist, doesn’t risk itself with a narrative from a single character’s point of view. God like perspective, but in a flashback, we are brought into a single character’s point of view.
  • Flashbacks can be confusing, clarifying and disruptive, look in detail at this aspect, shot by shot, consider audio, visuals.
  • In the Limey the flashbacks try to emulate memory – faded, out of focus.


  1. Ongoing project – Write a chapter about the use of flashbacks in film. Use the same films and look in detail at some of the key sequences maybe the first 3 minutes or in detail of any flashback sequence. 10K+
  2. Ongoing project – Research and write a chapter about film as a memory piece.
  3. For the next supervisor meetings writing piece, write a detailed piece about one of these films in preference The Notebook or The Limey rather than then The Grand Budapest Hotel.
  4. OK to use flashbacks in my film practice (as I had originally planned). What about experimental use of flashbacks – investigate and experiment their uses in documentary.
  5. Check out the book from the library ‘The Classical Hollywood Cinema – done, read chapter 4.
  6. Watch Rashomon – it’s a good example of what we see in flashbacks cannot be real.
  7. I suggested watch Meet Joe Black (1999) as an example of causality.
  8. Watch Casablanca for examples of a classic films use of flashbacks.
  9. Writing Style – find a style that I like for example. Richard Dyer check out his books. He moves from close analysis of film, film theory and film history, simple writing style that is clear to read. But pick a style that engages me.
  10. I suggested going on the academic writing course if it is PhD level.

Flashbacks in film

Oldboy (2003) Movie PosterStarted writing an example chapter for my thesis on Flashbacks in films. I decided to use the South Korean Film Oldboy (2003) as one of the films to analyse along with a greater, more in depth analysis of The Limey (1999) and possibly The Notebook (2004). There are several other possibilities to consider primarily those films created by Auteur Directors, Independent films rather than mainstream Hollywood studio films.


Flashbacks in film

The Notebook Duke reading to Allie

FLASHBACK : A narrative device used in Film (as in literature) to go back in time to an earlier moment in a character’s life and/or history, and to narrate that moment. Flashbacks, then, are most clearly marked as subjective moments within that narrative. Flashbacks are a cinematic representation of memory and of history and, ultimately, of subjective truth. (Hayward, 1996)

The flashback is a privileged moment in unfolding that juxtaposes different moments of temporal reference. A juncture is wrought between present and past and two concepts are implied in this juncture: memory and history. (Turim, 2013)


Hayward, S. (1996) Key concepts in cinema studies. London ; New York: Routledge.

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

Week 15, February 10th to 14th.


After the previous weeks meetings I had a list of people and organisations to contact as possible participants and future collaborations in the films production.

  • Contacted the Palace Cinema in Preston – they have cinema screenings for people living with dementia.
  • Contacted a small company that runs training courses and provides entertainment services in care homes using vintage objects from the 1940s.
  • Contacted a musician and songwriter to discuss future collaboration on the film.


My research into the conceptualisation of their use in film has prompted my interest in incorporating them into my own film. I’m currently creating small sequences where these could be used as flashbacks in my own films.

One idea I’ve had is to set a poem about death, memory and loss to a dance sequence, after some research I’ve decided to use the poem Remember by Christina Rossetti. Although the poem appears to be more about death I believe it is also relevant to people living with dementia and their partners/carers who lose a bit of them each day as the memory loss increases.

Remember me when I am gone away,
Gone far away into the silent land;
When you can no more hold me by the hand,
Nor I half turn to go yet turning stay.
Remember me when no more day by day
You tell me of our future that you planned:
Only remember me; you understand
It will be late to counsel then or pray.

Yet if you should forget me for a while
And afterwards remember, do not grieve:
For if the darkness and corruption leave
A vestige of the thoughts that once I had,
Better by far you should forget and smile
Than that you should remember and be sad.

Christina Rossetti



Week 14, Feb 3rd to 7th Feb

The Limey

Film meetings

Lyrics and Lunch

Arranged to meet with the person running Lyrics and Lunch events at St Thomas’s Church this Friday. They run meeting for people and their carers living with dementia. Group singing and a meal. I’m hoping that there are interesting people with a story to tell and maybe some music for the film.

The Bay Information Hub

Met with Penny Foulds to discuss the next steps in making the film. Added a couple of new contacts who might be interested in a collaboration and participation in the film.Supervisor meeting on the Monday:

Supervisor Meeting

  • Supervisory meeting 03/02/2020
  • Attended by Dr Bruce Bennett and Dr Maryam Ghorbankarimi
  • Key points

1. Continue with my research into the use of flashbacks in films.
2. Research the history of flashbacks.
3. Research the function of the flashback.
4. Have another look at the film The Limey as an example of a film told entirely in flashback. I’ve seen it many years ago on TV but not looking for meaning in the flashbacks.
5. Revisit the experimental filmmaker Jonas Mekas films.

Look again at my writing style which can be interpreted as film review, rather than a scholarly analysis of a film.

Mulholland Drive






Are some filmmakers trying to confuse the audience in their use of flashbacks or just confusing generally? Dark City for example, a guy wakes up in a hotel room with no memory in a world with no sun and controlled by strange beings. Mulholland Drive, has been said to be like a series of short films with no connection to each other, a collage that in the end delivers no answers. Twelve Monkeys where to start? Bruce Willis is sent back in time to find out who created the virus which has devastated the future, which seems reasonable, but the film is wonderfully chaotic and confusing as hell to watch.

Continued writing an essay on films told seemingly in flashback, my film examples include:- The Notebook (2004), The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014) and The Limey (1999). On the face of it there seems to be little to connect these films other than they are a representation of memory but they are linked through there use of flashbacks to narrate the extensive parts of the film and 2 of these films use a book as a device for the flashbacks, while The Limey uses a letter and a collection of photographs.


Week 13, Jan 27th to 31st Jan

Emailed The Bay Information Hub formerly the Dementia Hub to arrange a meeting at the next session, which is on the 7th of February.

Researched other organisations, which may offer the opportunity to develop interest in my film. Including the Lyrics and Lunch sessions at St Thomas’s, which looks interesting in many ways.

Started a new analysis on the use of flashbacks in film. This time films told entirely in flashback.

The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014) Wes Anderson
The Notebook (2004) Nick Cassavetes








These films have very little in common other than that they are narrated entirely in flashback.