The Power of Flashbacks in Julien Duvivier’s Lydia

In the 1940s, the nonlinear narrative began to enter the mainstream, as films like Citizen Kane and Double Indemnity boldly did away with the chronological mode that had dominated the cinematic storytelling of decades prior. While the visionary Orson Welles and masters of noir like Billy Wilder are routinely recognized for their envelope-pushing use of the flashback, the tool was in fact employed by many types of movies from the era, including woman’s pictures like Julien Duvivier’s 1941 Lydia, the subject of the new installment of Observations on Film Art.

The series, which has given viewers a monthly dose of film school by focusing on specific styles and formal devices in cinema history, is one of the highlights of our original programming on the Criterion Channel on FilmStruck, which you may have already heard is shutting down tomorrow. But you still have a full day to catch this latest Observations episode, in which scholar David Bordwell situates Duvivier’s graceful melodrama as an unsung exemplar of the emotional power that can derive from nonlinear storytelling. Check out the preview above, then head on over to the Channel to check out the full analysis alongside the film itself.

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