A movie goes back and forth in time [expression?]

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Tenacious Learner

Senior Member
Spanish
Hi teachers,
Is there a expression in English to say when a movie goes back and forth in time meanwhile we watch it?

Thanks in advance.
 
  • Dretagoto

    Senior Member
    Inglés británico
    The expression that I would use is non-linear, but I don't know if you mean specifically travelling in time (i.e. sci-fi), or just that the events happen out of order.
     

    Tenacious Learner

    Senior Member
    Spanish
    The expression that I would use is non-linear, but I don't know if you mean specifically travelling in time (i.e. sci-fi), or just that the events happen out of order.
    I also appreciate your interest, Dretagoto. No, I don't mean specifically travelling in time (i.e. sci-fi). I meant "flashbacks".

    TL
     

    suzi br

    Senior Member
    English / England
    It depends on the film. The different times are not always "flashbacks". You might say the film has differnt time-lines. Do you have a specific film in mind?
     

    suzi br

    Senior Member
    English / England
    Ah, sadly I don't know that so I cannot comment precisely. I just think the notion of different time-lines is sometimes more relevant than a flash-back.
     

    Tenacious Learner

    Senior Member
    Spanish
    Ah, sadly I don't know that so I cannot comment precisely. I just think the notion of different time-lines is sometimes more relevant than a flash-back.
    No worries at all.
    Wikipedia happens to refer to them as 'flashbacks'.

    This Is Us (TV series) - Wikipedia

    Episodes weave through the stories of the past and present of the characters, with most scenes taking place in 1980, 1989–1990, and the present day (2016–2017). Flashback scenes take place in Pittsburgh, while current scenes are typically split between Los Angeles, New Jersey, and New York City.
    This article refers to them as 'timelines'.

    'This Is Us': Timeline Explained

    Heading into Tuesday’s midseason premiere, THR compiled a handy timeline of all the major story points so far and when they have taken place in a bid to serve as a mini refresher for the Dan Fogelman drama's return.
    Thanks a lot for the information, You little ripper!
    A couple of more questions:
    1. Can I say "in the present timeline this happens" to refer to the present?
    2. Can I say "in the past timeline that happened" to refer to the past?

    TL
     

    Packard

    Senior Member
    USA, English
    The Use of Flashbacks in Movies

    Flashbacks are a tool, a device, where the screenwriter provides the reader and audience with visual information that he or she cannot incorporate into the screenplay any other way. The purpose of the flashback is simple: it is a technique that bridges time, place and action to reveal information about the character, or move the story forward.
     

    Scott AM

    Senior Member
    English - Canada
    No worries at all.
    Thanks a lot for the information, You little ripper!
    A couple of more questions:
    1. Can I say "in the present timeline this happens" to refer to the present?
    2. Can I say "in the past timeline that happened" to refer to the past?
    TL
    I hope I'm not being too picky here, but this is something native English speakers also get incorrect when discussing shows with "nonlinear" storylines - storylines that involve flashbacks, flash-forwards, and so forth. The key thing to remember is this - there are not multiple timelines. There is only one timeline, and the story presents it in a nonlinear fashion. It doesn't start at the oldest scene and conclude at the most recent scene, but takes scenes from different parts of the timeline as the story requires.

    I don't know if you're familiar with the movie "Back to the Future"? That is a movie that does feature multiple timelines. There's a timeline at the beginning of the film, when Marty's life in 1985 is not too great. Then he goes back in time, and starts a different timeline, one where his parents never met, and he was never born. And so forth.

    In a case like this show, I don't think you need to get any more complicated than saying "in the character's past, this happened", or "in the current timeframe, this happens". Shows like this can be hard to follow, but when you think about, it's not all that different than how you might look at your own life. You're living in the present, and you can look back on what happened before.

    Hope this helps!
     

    Packard

    Senior Member
    USA, English
    I hope I'm not being too picky here, but this is something native English speakers also get incorrect when discussing shows with "nonlinear" storylines - storylines that involve flashbacks, flash-forwards, and so forth. The key thing to remember is this - there are not multiple timelines. There is only one timeline, and the story presents it in a nonlinear fashion. It doesn't start at the oldest scene and conclude at the most recent scene, but takes scenes from different parts of the timeline as the story requires.

    I don't know if you're familiar with the movie "Back to the Future"? That is a movie that does feature multiple timelines. There's a timeline at the beginning of the film, when Marty's life in 1985 is not too great. Then he goes back in time, and starts a different timeline, one where his parents never met, and he was never born. And so forth.

    In a case like this show, I don't think you need to get any more complicated than saying "in the character's past, this happened", or "in the current timeframe, this happens". Shows like this can be hard to follow, but when you think about, it's not all that different than how you might look at your own life. You're living in the present, and you can look back on what happened before.

    Hope this helps!

    To second your thoughts this is from the link I provided in post 14. The emboldening is mine:

    Flashbacks are really a function of character, not story. Waldo Salt, great screenwriter of Coming Home and Midnight Cowboy, told me that he thought a flashback should be thought of as a "flashpresent," because the visual image we're seeing is what the character is thinking and feeling at that present moment, whether a memory, or fantasy, or event; a flashpresent, he remarked, is anything that illuminates a character's point of view.
     

    Scott AM

    Senior Member
    English - Canada
    To second your thoughts this is from the link I provided in post 14. The emboldening is mine:

    Flashbacks are really a function of character, not story. Waldo Salt, great screenwriter of Coming Home and Midnight Cowboy, told me that he thought a flashback should be thought of as a "flashpresent," because the visual image we're seeing is what the character is thinking and feeling at that present moment, whether a memory, or fantasy, or event; a flashpresent, he remarked, is anything that illuminates a character's point of view.
    I like that!
     
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