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Flashback Narrative Visual Examples and Stimulus

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On this page you can find a series of visual literacy resources that introduce you to the idea of a flashback narrative.

Storytellers often use flashbacks in their narrative. It is a way of telling the reader more about a particular character. It can also be used to communicate important information about the narrative to the reader or viewer.

Flashbacks have two lines of narrative – there is the ‘present’ narrative and ‘past’ narrative. Often, the story starts in the present before you are taken into the past via the flashback. During the flashback you find out more about characters and events before being returned to the present again. Flashbacks sometimes have a trigger or mechanism that takes your from the present into the past and back again. It could be a question that is asked or a moment where the character focusses on something that they see

This clip from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory shows how film makers use flashbacks to help you to find out more about a character. In this case, we find out all about the first time Willy Wonka tasted a sweet. What is the trigger for the flashback?

The Harry Potter films make extensive use of flashbacks to explain different parts of the story. In this scene, Hagrid explains to Harry how his parents died at the hands of Voldemort.

This film entitled, ‘The Eye of the Wolf’ tells two parallel stories through a series of flashbacks. The mechanism for each flashback invloves taking a journey through the eye of Africa and Bluecoat in order to find out about their life journeys.


This fabulous video by Rudimental  ft. Emeli Sandé called Free makes use of flashbacks to tell the story of the man climbing the mountain. What are the things from his past that motivate him? What is he thinking when he is lying in the meadow at the end of the video?

This short film called ‘The Piano’ uses a series of flashbacks to tell you more about the life of the man playing the piano. What can you deduce about the life of this man from the flashbacks?


While this final film is not a flashback narrative, it tells the story of one man’s life. We shall be using it as a stimulus for writing some of our own flashback narratives. It’s a touching story, so you may wish to get a box of hankies ready. If you were Lars sitting in the armchair looking into the painting at the end of the film, what moments would you ‘flashback’ to?

The Beauty of Life – Moritz Bunk Fede Ardanza. from Fede Ardanza on Vimeo.

 

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