Interrogation Flashback YKTTW Discussion

Interrogation Flashback
The story is told via a character being pumped for information.
(permanent link) added: 2011-06-14 18:41:39 sponsor: Ajardoor edited by: Koveras (last reply: 2015-07-20 03:47:31)

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When the 'here' in the Framing Device of How We Got Here is under a harsh light and an uncomfortable chair, or when the police are asking a few questions of a material witness and the viewers are treated to a scene from their perspective, that's an Interrogation Flashback.

Third Person Flashback usually goes with this. If several people are being interrogated and they tell conflicting stories, this results in The Rashomon.

A popular way to play with this trope is to have the interrogated character lie, so that the Flashback footage either conflicts with what the interrogated character is saying or turns out to not be what really happened.


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    Film — Animated 
  • In Hoodwinked, a series of police interrogations conducted at Granny's house segue to corresponding flashbacks. The one constant in every flashback points investigator Nicky Flippers to the mastermind behind the Goodie Recipe thefts.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • Big Trouble in Little China starts with Egg Shen being questioned by his (rather unfriendly) lawyer about what happened. Egg Shen starts explaining, which fades into the events that started off the whole situation.
  • Pierre Boulle's The Bridge Over The River Kwai is a story told in the form of a medic from the POW camp giving his report to his superiors about what happened there. The events have driven the medic insane.
  • In Following, the bulk of the film is the writer explaining his story to a police detective. It's soon revealed that he went to the police of his own accord. He made some very unsavory friends and got in over his head, so now he's coming clean before the situation can get any worse.
  • The Imitation Game begins with Alan Turing brought in for questioning about a then-illegal homosexual liaison, but he ends up telling his interrogator about the highly classified work he did during World War II instead.
  • The Korean film Joint Security Area is told largely in flashbacks, with a Framing Device of a UN officer interrogating soldiers involved in a fatal shooting incident at the DMZ.
  • In No Way Out, the Framing Device is Lt. Cmdr Tom Farrell being interrogated by his Soviet handlers.
  • Slumdog Millionaire. Basically, after torturing him didn't work, the police decided to let the hero tell his story to explain how he knew the answers on the Millionaire show.
  • The Usual Suspects is told through eyes of small-time criminal "Verbal" Kint, who is being questioned by the police as the sole English speaking survivor of a drug deal gone bad.
  • The lead of Who Am I turns himself in at the beginning of the movie. His story then unfolds in flashbacks while being interrogated.

  • The framing story of Borders of Infinity is that Miles Vorkosigan is interrogated (or questioned, depending on who you ask) by Simon Illyan, and tells the stories "The Mountains of Mourning", "Labyrinth", and "The Borders of Infinity".
  • The story in Rising Sun unfolds via the interrogation of detective Web, concerning his handling of the murder at the Nakamoto Corporation and his involvement with Connor. It is shown through a series of flashbacks from Web's POV.

    Live-Action TV 

  • Hawaii Five-0: In "Hana Lokomaika'i" note , Chin comes under investigation by Internal Affairs in relation to his knowledge of his brother-in-law's criminal activity. As the viewer learns from flashbacks during the interrogation of Chin, Kono, and McGarrett, Chin's brother-in-law's Start of Darkness was murdering Chin's father.
  • NCIS:
    • (Very) Special Agent Anthony DiNozzo was tortured by a terrorist leader in the S7 premiere of the show, as the man sought information about what NCIS was and how it was related to the death of several of the terrorist's agents. The terrorist's questions and a Truth Serum lead DiNozzo to explain about the different members of his group in flashbacks.
    • DiNozzo got hit with this again in the season nine premiere, this time from his own side after he was implicated in the shooting death of another NCIS agent. He was innocent.
  • The Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "Trials and Tribble-ations" uses an interrogation by Temporal Investigations as a framing device, where Sisko explains why it was absolutely necessary for them to travel back in time to the Star Trek: The Original Series episode "The Trouble with Tribbles."
  • The X-Files episode "The Unusual Suspects" opens with Detective Munch from Homicide Life On The Street interrogaing Byers as to what happened during a shoot-out at a Baltimore warehouse.

    Video Games 
  • In Alpha Protocol, about every third mission you flash forward to Mike Thorton being questioned by Halbech CEO Henry Leland on his actions during the mission.
  • Played with in Assassin's Creed I. Desmond is being interrogated not for his own memories, but for his ancestral ones, using the Animus system that gives him flashbacks of Altair's life.
  • Call of Duty: Black Ops begins with the main character, Alex Mason, waking up in an interrogation/torture chamber, strapped to a chair and hooked up to an electric shock device. Over an intercom (and behind a panel obscuring his details), the interrogator questions Mason's involvement in various CIA plots during the Cold War era. Each mission in the game is presented as a flashback, told by Mason to the interrogator.
  • The entire plot of Dragon Age II is one big flashback of Varric, who is being interrogated by Cassandra Pentaghast. Notably, he does lapse into the Tall Tale territory a few times, before being snapped back on track by Cassandra.
  • Andrew Plotkin's Interactive Fiction piece, Spider And Web, is told through interrogation flashbacks.
  • Splinter Cell: Conviction starts as a flashback of Victor Coste while being interrogated by armed Black Arrow contractors.

Zero Context Examples

Will go under Information Desk and Flashbacks and Chronology.
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