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Non-Linear Storytelling

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There are lots of great examples of this in film: Christopher Nolan’s unfolding of the narrative in reverse in “Memento,” Quentin Tarantino’s interrelated three-story structure that all comes together in the end with “Pulp Fiction,” and Tom Tykwer’s use of the same story being told in three different timelines, each with different outcomes, in “Run Lola, Run,” his kinetic thriller from 1999.

Tykwer wrote the screenplay for his film, and its conceit is provocative: the protagonist, Lola, has 20 minutes to save her boyfriend from murder. She must reach him by running through the streets of Berlin; without spoiling it, I’ll just say that her journey explores how seemingly tiny decisions can lead to drastically different outcomes.

In all cases, telling the tale in a non-linear fashion enhances the story itself. No small trick, but when done right, it packs quite a punch.