8 Films That Make Fascinating Use of Flashbacks

Alain Resnais’ Hiroshima mon amour, written by Marguerite Duras, pioneered the use of flashbacks to mimic flashes of memories. In the 1959 film, this device is used in telling the story of a French actress and Japanese architect as they share their perspectives on war. The flashback technique reminds us of the sometimes painful ways that memories persist within us, despite our best attempts to forget them. Duras, a prolific author, playwright, and filmmaker, is the subject of a current retrospective at the Film Society of Lincoln Center through October 22. In honor of her groundbreaking work, we’re revisiting other films we love that use flashbacks to tell their stories.

crispin

Wild at Heart

We can’t image that there’s an actor more perfectly suited to David Lynch’s weird world than Crispin Glover. The Rubin and Ed and Willard star makes a brief appearance in Wild at Heart as Lula’s disturbed cousin Dell (aka Jingle Dell, as he was obsessed with Christmas) in a flashback scene. “Dell was always fighting bad ideas,” Lulu narrates as we watch Glover’s crazed character shriek about sandwiches and aliens, while luxuriating in the cockroaches trapped in his underwear.