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Flashforward

A scene that temporarily takes the narrative forward in time from the current point of the story in literature, film, television and other media.

A flashforward (also spelled flash-forward, and more formally known as prolepsis) is a scene that temporarily takes the narrative forward in time from the current point of the story in literature, film, television, and other media. Flashforwards are often used to represent events expected, projected, or imagined to occur in the future. They may also reveal significant parts of the story that have not yet occurred, but soon will in greater detail. It is similar to foreshadowing, in which future events are not shown but rather implicitly hinted at. It is also similar to an ellipsis, however, an ellipsis takes the narrative forward and is intended to skim over boring or uninteresting details, for example, the aging of a character. It is primarily a postmodern narrative device, named by analogy to the more traditional flashback, which reveals events that occurred in the past.

Examples in film

Midway through the film They Shoot Horses, Don't They? there is an abrupt flashforward when Robert, the character played by Michael Sarrazin, is seen being thrust into a jail cell by a police officer, even though he has done nothing to provoke such treatment. The audience is notified, later in the story, that Sarrazin's character would have indeed made choices that warrant his arrest.

The film Arrival relies extensively on prolepsis throughout the movie, disguised as flashbacks (like the aforementioned episode of Lost). The main character gains a precognitive ability after learning the language of the aliens and proceeds to use it to prevent the outbreak of war. She uses information revealed to her in the future to convince a military leader not to attack the aliens in the present.

Key Terms

aliens
character
definition
ellipsis
events
film
future
prolepsis
story
usage

Additional Resources

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Acronymn

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Synonymns

Flashforward
Prolepsis

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Sources & Credits

Last modified on June 8 2020
Content adapted from Wikipedia
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