Homework #6: The Flashback in Film

Classic example of deep focus in childhood scene from Orson Welles, Citizen Kane (1941).
Classic example of deep focus in childhood scene from Orson Welles, Citizen Kane (1941).

In Orson Welles’ Citizen Kane (1941), most of the narrative structure relies of flashbacks. Viewers see Kane’s death at the start of the film and the “March of Time” newsreel provides an overview of the life and death of Charles Foster Kane. The life of Kane is communicated through the flashbacks of various sources, including his close friends and ex-wife. Orson Welles lets the audience know at the very beginning of the film what happens to Kane and tells Kane’s story through a succession of flashbacks. What other films to you know make use of the flashback device? In an earlier homework, Brygetee discussed the big-budget film, Titanic (1997) by James Cameron. You may recall that the audience learns what happens in the beginning of Titanic, and the first 20 minutes are devoted to exploring the sunken ship, ending with an older Rose who takes the audience on her flashback to that fateful voyage. Explore your textbook, the internet, or your own collection of films and share with your classmates a memorable flashback scene.

Click here to watch a flashback to Kane’s childhood as recalled in the diary of his legal guardian Thatcher in Citizen Kane (take note of the deep focus technique).

Watch Old Rose in Titanic begin her flashback.

Homework #6 is DUE by Friday October 30th (ONE DAY AFTER THE MIDTERM). Diamonds and Spades Post, Clubs and Hearts Comment, note your blog group! Email me if you forget.

10 thoughts on “Homework #6: The Flashback in Film”

  1. https://youtu.be/Z4HUydk0kII
    This movie is called Ciudad De Deus (City of God) (2002) directed by Fernando Meirelles and Kátia Lund. This movie also starts with a flashback as a beginning. Although it takes longer than Citizen Kane and not showing exactly the death of the main character this flashback shows the beginning of a great career for a young teenage boy that lives in one of the most violent neighborhood of Rio De Janeiro in the 1970s.
    I recommend this movie for those who have not seen it. It is based on a true story and it also has great cinematography.

  2. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind starring Jim Carey and Kate Winslet is one of my favorite movies. The story surrounds a man and a woman who fell in deep, passionate love. However, their love was so poisonous to each other that Clementine (Kate Winslet) decides to “erase their love”. In the movie, there is an office that allows you to make an appointment to completely erase all memories of someone from your life. The movie centers around flashbacks from their days in love. The interesting part is that the flashbacks are not necessarily in chronological order. At times, they do not make sense at all. It is up to viewer to piece together the flashbacks to understand the story. I believe a lot of the movie is up for interpretation due to the fact that each viewer understand the movie differently. I highly enjoy watching movies like this because they play with the mind and allow creativity. I definitely recommend this movie to anyone interested in movies that evoke thought.

    1. I was waiting for someone to use this example. I love this movie, it’s literally all over the place and that’s what I love! Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet have a great chemistry together and the writing by Charlie Kaufmann is phenomenal. Really good example!

  3. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0lq1JIWQSlc

    In the scene above, I have a provided a scene from the Grinch who stole Christmas. (In the spirit of Christmas) So we all know the story about the Grinch (played by Jim Carrey) who grew up in Hooville hating Christmas. The scene you are watching is his flashback on why he hates Christmas. For the first time in his life, the Grinch was excited about Christmas and hand makes a jeweled doll for his crush Martha May. As well as giving her a lovely gift, he wants to give her a presentable appearance and decided to shave his hairy face. The day he goes to school he puts a bag over his head where he eventually takes off and is made fun of by his class. He becomes outraged and throws the Christmas tree in the classroom. He eventually climbs away up the enormous snowy mountain, screaming to himself about how he hates Christmas, before eventually standing alone on the mountain. Now we can call this for sure a traumatic experience.

  4. I really enjoyed “It’s a Wonderful Life,” directory by Frank Capra. I love it because of Christmas season and family. This was about George Bailey and family. George had his whole life giving to the citizens of Bedford Falls. He always wanted to travel but never had a chance. George mess up with his family, but prayers of family came to him. George had an angel that walk him through his life story where he wasn’t their. It felt like a nightmare to him. He recognized that he had touch a good amount of peoples lifes. He was worth something. It was an eye opener. George was happy to be alive. This was a good Flashback.

  5. One movie with flashback would be, “Titanic” (1997) by James Cameron. This movie started out with a expedition on finding the Titanic and the treasures within. Then later on it became a flashback story of telling her experience on the ship from getting on to the sinking of the ship. At the end of telling her experience, it goes back to present day. I felt like that this movie was well put together. This movie is one of those movies that is old, but gold. This whole movie is basically a flashback.

  6. There are many movies made throughout the years. They’re are films that use flashbacks, it use is to tell a better story for the film. A film that we have watch in class is Citizen kane, that entire film is pretty much a flash back of kane entire life from child hood to the end. There a many films that I have watched but I can’t really recall many films that have use flash back. I see the use of flashback more in videos or T.V shows. But there are some films that I do remember that have used flashbacks. Films that have used flashbacks are “ Iam legend “ by Francis Lawrence and the other film is “UP” by Pete Docter. In I ‘am legend the use of flash back Is to show the past of what was before everything thing in the world became an outbreak. The flashbacks of the main character and it show his loves ones and how the NYC became what it is a wasteland. Some of those flashbacks reminds the main character on what he has to do. The other movie “up” does use it around the beginning of the movie. Its show the life of Carl from young to old, in which it shows his wife in to her death. That flashback is very emotional you just get the feels.
    Late post
    Diamond

    1. I love the movie “Up”. The use of flashbacks isn’t too frequent but when it was used in the film it stirred emotion amongst the audience. We see the technique of flashbacks used when one of the main characters named Carl reminisce on the times he had with his late wife. In the flashback we see the first time they met, how they became closer and through this we get a better sense of what kind of person his late wife was. From the flashback you begin to understand just what Carl lost and you begin to feel sorry for him. This is a great example of how a flashback can be important.

      1. I loved the movie up! It was so sad and touching but was so inspiring too. This was such a great example! The beginning of the movie is all one giant flashback throughout his life.

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