TV & Film

Examples of Fragmented Narrative: Part II

  • Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind flips back and forth a bit, changing scenes as you go, and for part of the film you’re confused about which part of the relationship is being portrayed, Pay attention to Clementine’s hair colour if you’re confused.
  • The opening scene of Trick ‘r Treat is, chronologically, the very last event in the film. After this scene, it tells three stories that are more or less set simultaneously, before backing up to the beginning with another story, set during a time skip. It ends just before the opening scene.
  • Man of Steel starts out with the destruction of Krypton, then jumps ahead to Clark in his thirties, followed by various flashbakcs of his life. Of course, the Superman mythos have become so ingrained in pop culture that audience members will probably understand the flashbacks easily. The flashbacks also help the film’s overall pacing since the audience isn’t treated to a big info dump at the beginning of the movie.
  • The Doctor Who episode “Blink”, written by Steven Moffat. Most of the episode was told in the present, alongside events that happened in the twenties (Kathy Nightingale), sixties (the Doctor, Martha and DI Shipton) and (offscreen) eighties (Kathy again), warning about things in the present, all inside of a Stable Time Loop. From the viewpoint of the main character (the Tenth Doctor), he doesn’t meet the episode’s guest lead (Sally) until a year after the main action, despite relaying a message from the late 1960s.
  • Another Moffat episode, “The Big Bang” features the Doctor travelling back in time through his personal timeline three times. The Cold Opening is also set several minutes (from the audience’s perspective, really it’s 1900 years after the opening titles. Similar cold openings occurred in “The Girl in the Fireplace”, “Love & Monsters” and “Silence in the Library”.
  • We see River Song as a month-old baby in her fifth appearance, “A Good Man Goes to War” (2011), and dying in her first appearance “Silence in the Library”/“Forest of the Dead” (2008). In simple terms, her timeline is opposite to the Doctor’s. Except when it isn’t. In fact, “The Impossible Astronaut” has three Rivers at once, with one of them witnessing the other’s actions, which is seen from the other River’s POV in “The Wedding of River Song”.
  • A less heavily timey-wimey example: “A Town Called Mercy” (2012) is implied to take place right at the end of the seven-week-anniversary vacation the Doctor took Amy and Rory on at one point in “The Power of Three” (2012).
  • Used with great success in several of Quentin Tarantino’s films.
  • Pulp Fiction begins and ends in the same scene, and we see one character die in a scene before he plays his role in the climax. Pulp Fiction’s proper chronological order of events: The prologue to the Gold Watch, the prologue to Vincent Vega and Marcellus Wallace’s Wife, The Bonnie Incident, the Restaurant, Vincent Vega and Marcellus Wallace’s Wife, the Gold Watch.
  • Reservoir Dogs jumps back and forth between before the robbery and after it.
  • Kill Bill helps us track the timeline by the Bride’s list of people to kill. Notably, we see one name crossed off her list in the beginning of the first film who doesn’t die until the climax.
  • Jackie Brown is told in a linear fashion, except for the sequence with the money drop, which is told from three perspectives in a manner similar to Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction.

Bam is a self discribed spooky bitch who loves punk music, deathmatches & Edgar Allen Poe. She is a lover of books, words & old movies. She has been described by few as an Inebriate Facilitation Specialist but loyal & fiercely independent by most.

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