Reverse chronology

Reverse chronology is a method of story-telling whereby the pad is Revealed in reverse order.

In a story employing this technique, the first scene shown is actually the conclusion to the plot. Once the scene ends, the scene is shown, and so on, so that the final scene is the first chronologically.

Many stories employing flashback , showing prior events, but against the scene order of the majority of ABC’s film-etc is a movie in reverse chronology goes ZYX-etc.

As a hypothetical example, if the fairy tale Jack and the Beanstalk was told using reverse chronology, the opening scene would be broken down. The next scene would feature Jack being discovered by the giant and climbing down the beanstalk in fear of his life. Later, we would see Jack running into the man with the infamous magic beans, then, at the end of the movie, being put off by his mother to the cow.


The unusual nature of this method is only used in a specific nature. For example, Memento features a man with anterograde amnesia , meaning he is unable to form new memories. The film parallels the protagonist’s perspective by unfolding in reverse chronological order, leaving the audience as ignorant of the events that occurred prior to each scene (which, played in reverse chronological order, will not be revealed until later) as the protagonist is.

In the film Irreversible , an act of homicidal violence takes place at the beginning of the movie (ie it is the final event to take place). During the remainder of the film we learn not only that violence is an act of revenge, but what exactly is being avenged. The film was highly controversial for its graphic nature; had the scenes been shown in chronological order, this violent content would make it a simple, and pointlessly brutal, revenge movie. However, as told in reverse, the audience is made to consider the exact consequences of each action, and there is often “more than meets the eye.”

Examples of use


The epic poem Aeneid , written by Virgil in the 1st century BC, uses reverse chronology within scenes. [1] In ” The Three Apples “, a murder mystery in the One Thousand and One Nights , the middle part of the story shows a flashback of events leading up to the discovery of a dead body at the beginning of the story. [2] The action of WR Burnett’s novel, Goodbye to the Past (1934), moves continually from 1929 to 1873. [3] Edward Lewis Wallant uses flashbacks in reverse chronology in The Human Season (1960). [4]The pessimistic masterpiece Christopher Homm (1965), a novel by CH Sisson , is also told in reverse chronology. [5]

Philip K. Dick , in his 1967 novel Counter-Clock World , describing a future in which time has begun to move in reverse, resulting in the dead reviving in their own grave (“old-birth”), living their lives in reverse, eventually ending in returning to the womb, and splitting into an egg and sperm during copulation between a female recipient and a man. The novel is expanded from your short story Your Appointment Will Be Yesterday , first published in the August 1966 edition of Amazing Stories .

Martin Amis ‘s 1991 novel ” Time ‘ s Arrow ” tells the story of a man who, it seems, dead people to life. Eventually it is revealed that the story is being seen back, and he was a doctor at Auschwitz who brought death to live people. He escaped to the United States, and the novel starts with his death and ends with his birth. Friends writes in the Afterword that he had a “certain paragraph” from Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse Five(1969), in mind. Tralfamadore, the protagonist, Billy Pilgrim, watches a war movie backwards. American planes full of holes fly backwards German planes suck bullets from them; bombers take their bombs back to base where they are returned to the States, reduced to The American fliers became high school again and again, Billy guesses, Hitler ultimately returns to babyhood.

Iain Banks ‘ novel Use of Weapons interweaves two parallel stories, one told in standard chronology and one in reverse.

Julia Alvarez’s novel How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents Native Dominican Republic. The story of why the family and their attempts to succeed in New York are told in reverse chronological order, with the last events happening in 1956. [6]


A number of plays have used this technique. George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart’s 1934 play, Merrily We Roll Along , is told in reverse order, as Harold Pinter play Betrayal (1978). Kaufman and Hart’s play was adapted to a musical comedy by Stephen Sondheim in 1981, and Pinter’s play was made into a film in 1983.


In 1927, Jean Epstein ‘s ice three-sided ( The Three Sided Mirror ) features a sequence Where the events happen in reverse, Beginning with the protagonist’s exit from a room up to the viewer Sees the entrance. The Czech comedy Happy End (1966) is a farce which begins with a guillotined man finding his head on his shoulders and ends with a newborn being born back into his mother’s womb. [7] Atom Egoyan , influenced by Pinter’s plays, tells the story of The Sweet Hereafter (1997) in reverse chronology, with the first scene of the film set in 1977 and the last in 1968. [8] The technique was later employedPeppermint Candy (2000), by South Korean director Lee Chang-dong ; in Memento (2000), a mystery directed by Christopher Nolan about short term memory loss; and in Jean-Luc Godard’s short film From the Origin of the 21st Century for Me (2000). [9] In Irreversible (2002), the technique is used so much that the end credits are not only shown at the beginning of the movie, but they roll down the screen, rather than upwards as is familiar.

Donnie Darko ( Donnie Darko , 2001) is shown traveling back in time from a parallel universe à son own world, though Briefly.

The first several scenes in 2003’s film Identity , starring John Cusack , occur in reverse order.

The 2004 film 5×2 , directed by François Ozon , tells the story of a relationship between two people in five episodes using reverse chronology. [10]

In Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004), a hand substory is told in reverse.

Shot of Blood , by Jean Marboeuf (2006) uses limited reverse chronology. The film begins with the revelation that it will not be revealed who will be killed or why.

In the movie PS I Love You , the scenes in which Gerry Kennedy ( Gerard Butler ) meets Holly and Holly ( Hilary Swank ) are shown in reverse. [11]

In the 2010 Tamil movie, Manmadan Ambu , the song “Neela Vaanam” (visuals inspired by Coldplay ‘s ” The Scientist “) is shown in a reverse sequence.


See also: The Backwards Episode

The made-for-television drama Two Friends (1986), by Jane Campion , and the 1997 episode, ” The Betrayal “, of the hit sitcom Seinfeld , employs the technique. The Seinfeld episode is a take-off of the Harold Pinter play “Betrayal” and has a character named “Pinter.” [9] The 2000 X-Files episode Redrum (in qui a character experiences the events in reverse along with the audience) and the 2002 ER episode, “Hindsight”, does as well. A 1997 ” Star Trek: Voyager ” episode, ” Before and After “,Time’s Arrow “, also features a character experiencing the events in reverse along with the audience.Sealab 2021 episode” Shrabster “is also in reverse order.For a few seasons, the revived” Doctor Who “had an extensive storyline focusing on a relationship between the doctor and his companions’ daughter (River Song) from the future based on “opposite timelines” (ie, as the doctor was traveling through the world) .


The story “The Time Eater” from issue 40 of the comic ” Vampirella “, scripted by Jack Butterworth and published in 1975, included the concept of human lives running backwards. People were shown to be exhumed, reunited with families, separated from their spouses in order to attend school, and finally returned to the womb. Dialogue was reversed too. Alan Moore’s 1983 short story “The Reversible Man” from issue 308 of the comic ” 2000AD ” told an ordinary man’s life backwards, using the same concept as Butterworth but recasting it as a first-person narrative. Brian K. Vaughan wrote an issue of the ongoing Midnighterseries told in reverse chronology. The issue explored the fact that the character Midnighter has the ability to calculate millions of possible scenarios for any given situation. The issue does not have the scenes in reverse order, but rather the individual pages run backwards.

Issue 43 of Bongo’s ” Simpsons Comics ” is told in reverse order: the story opens with a depiction of a crane facelift a crashed out of a lake; each subsequent scene (which lasts for one page) carries a caption informing the reader that it took place, for instance, “20 minutes earlier”. The penultimate page jumps back thirty years and shows Homer Simpson as a child


The 2007 anime television series Touka Gettan is working entirely this narrative method. All 26 episodes were aired in chronologically reverse order, with the first episode being the ending of the story while the last episode being the beginning.


The lyrics to ” All Along the Watchtower “, written by Bob Dylan , are, he says, “in a rather reverse order”; Indeed, the final verse begins with the words “All along the Watchtower”, and if reversed, the verses Would tell the story in the right order.

The lyrics to “Apparition, Apparitions.” by Trophy Scars describe the events leading up to a woman’s suicide in reverse order, beginning with her death and ending with her initial romance with her boyfriend.

The song “One Thing Leads to Another” by the Pet Shop Boys (we limited release of Their 1993 album Very ) Describes the events leading up to a man’s death in reverse order.

Multiple music videos, including Coldplay ‘s ” The Scientist ” will be used in many places. This is done by filming the video chronologically but getting the actor to sing the lyrics backwards. The music video for Enigma’s “Return to Innocence” uses a man’s life, with his death as an old man and ending with his baptism as an infant. The music video for Linkin Park ‘s “Bleed It Out” also uses the same method. In 2016, Malaysian Singer-Songwriter Yuna uses reverse chronology in her music video “Lanes”.

The events of the song “Reverse” by SomeKindaWonderful , are said in the title itself, are told in reverse chronology.

The lyrics in “Rewind” by NaS also tell a story in reverse chronology, with some of the dialogue being in reverse order.

“Good Mistake” Album by Bahram Nouraei is the first Iranian concept album ever made and inspired by reverse chronology as the storytelling method. [12]

There have also been several discussions as to how to pictorize Neela Vaanam’s “Manmadan Ambu” (sung by Kamal Haasan himself). The whole song has been portrayed in such a way that it has been brought to life by Mannar’s (Kamal’s character) French wife Juliet, in reverse.

See also

  • In medias res
  • Nonlinear narrative


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