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I have been really enjoying JJ Murphy’s book thus far, however there was one thing that he said that I disagree with, and I’m not sure we are going to have the opportunity to cover it in class, so I thought I would bring it up here. When he discusses Quentin Tarantino’s 1992 film Reservoir Dogs Murphy says that the temporal shifts in the film are basically flashbacks. I’m not so sure that we can simply throw a term at the way that a film like Reservoir Dogs operates. I guess I have always thought that flashbacks were really looking back at the past from the point of view of a single character. I think that Tarantino’s tactic is a little more complicated because his look back at the past is just as objective as any other part of the film. When the film flashes back to show Mr. White’s back story we’re not seeing the flashback from his point of view (neither figurative, nor literal). It is just the objective replaying of Mr. White’s past. It isn’t really important that the flashbacks fall where the do, either. Mr. White’s flashback and Mr. Blonde’s could easily be switched in the film and the film would still make sense, and not have its quality diminished.

I am curious what Murphy would make of the films written by Guillermo Arriaga (Amores Perros, 21 Grams, and Babel). Those films don’t have a particular flashback structure, nor are they puzzle films. In a way they work like Elephant but are less deliberate with it’s choices of when to flashback. At that point do they even count as flashbacks? If not, do we need to come up with a new vocabulary for how these films opporate beyond saying that they are temporally complex? 

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