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.
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