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Progressive Era Montage

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Dances and fashions come and go, but dancing and style are forever.note 

A Montage where a character or a scene shifts from one era to another. A "Mister Sandman" Sequence may or may not occur on a particular era, may it be a person, a place, or an item. The one thing that this montage is very prevalent of is that the atmosphere of the setting, architecture and art styles, technology, clothing and hairstyle, and occasional background music sequentially changes. One of the most common usage is a product or a subject going through each decade in the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries, due to these centuries undergoing rapid changes in all aspects of life.

Often employed to make the point that "X has been around a lot longer than you, so you'd best respect it, son."

Doesn't (necessarily) have to do with the actual Progressive Era, which was from about the 1890s to the 1920s.



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  • Pepsi:
    • The 2009 Pepsi Commercial "Pass" transcends from The Gay '90s to the present day focusing the said product consumed by young people as it is passed on through various generations.
    • Another Pepsi commercial from 2002 featuring Britney Spears shows Pepsi "commercials" from the 1950s through 2002, using actual Pepsi jingles from their respective eras.
  • The 2008 Hovis Bread Commercial, "Go On, Lad!" focuses on a boy who, in 122 seconds, walks down on history lane from the Victorian Era to the present day as he walks down through significant events on British history.
  • The Mercedes-Benz SL commercial "Timeless" focuses about the said car as it drives through the 1950s up to the present day while the style of the car, the music, and the fashion of the woman driving it all change with the times.
  • Frigidaire's "More than 90 Years of Innovation" commercial shows the company's innovations through the years.
  • This Super Bowl Special for the Audi A6 has Jason Statham stealing a succession of cars dating from The '70s up to the present day, presented in the manner of an action movie of each era. In a way it also illustrates the advancements in film camera technology over the years.
  • The "Pass It Along" promotional video for American Girl's BeForever revamp shows girls from the present passing things along to characters from the Historical lineup, the latter of them showing their new meet outfits.
  • Sony's "#4ThePlayers" video, in which a group of British teens grow up playing PlayStation consoles from 1995 to the present day. All the while, the artists whose posters adorn their walls and magazines change from Blur to Kasabian to Tinie Tempah, the fashion goes from "Fresh Prince" to '00s "chav" fashion and beyond, and the London Eye, the Gherkin, and the Shard emerge on the London skyline outside their window.
  • A 1992 Miller Lite ad directed by James Cameron (!) uses then cutting-edge morphing to transform a couple from late '60s hippies through '70s disco to '80s punks in one smooth dance. They revert to present day (early 90s) as they sit back down at the bar— and then hint at a cute Zeerust future when the girl is shown wearing a "necklace" of shiny stones that orbit her neck...
  • This Gilette body razor commercial does this with the changing facial hairstyles as the era progresses.
  • The Cherry Ripe "Feeding the Soul" ad does this in reverse, starting with a woman eating a Cherry Ripe in the modern day and gradually moving back through various eras to the 20s.
  • A 2015 advertisement for Lloyds Bank does this with the black horse from the bank's logo, being foaled in 1765, then being ridden or pulling a load throughout the next 250 years.
  • This Nike ad for the 2004 World Series, showing two brothers watching the Red Sox from 1918 to 2004.
  • A 2017 UK Ford advert about the new Ford Focus has a woman driving down the street while discussing how some things change but others remain constant. We see a hardware store turn into a video rental place and then a whole foods shop, a phone box disappear to be replaced by a guy on his mobile, and then a guy texting or IMing, and a glimpse into a classroom which goes from blackboard to overhead projector to interactive multimedia.
  • A Guinness commercial entitled "noitulovE" travels backward in time 500 million years in 60 seconds, as three men revert from modern humans to prehistoric mudskippers.
  • A Bank of America commercial "Portraits" shows an elderly couple and their whole family through various milestones in reverse (anniversaries, grandchildren born, second British invasion, new puppy, etc.), ending with the now young couple setting up a camera for a photo.
  • The Clorox commercial "Laundry Timeline" shows the ever-changing laundry room in which the great-grandmother, then the grandmother, then the mother has done the laundry.
  • The Snuggle commercial "Time" has a husband bring home a bottle of Snuggle Super Care Fabric Softener with the hope that it'll keep his family's laundry looking new for a long time. As the couple goes through several life changes including having a baby, adopting a few pets, and embracing several fads, their clothes stay colorful and bright.
  • A Tivo commercial titled "Fast Forward" shows a young couple about to watch Star Trek: The Next Generation, but the guy accidentally fast forwards 20 years into the future, where they now have Tivo Stream 4K and a daughter!

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The opening montage in Watchmen depicts the evolution of superheroes from The '40s up until The '80s, with important historical scenes shown in-between.
  • The opening credit sequence of the film The Jackal showed a montage of images from Russian history set to pounding Industrial music, starting with the Bolshevik Revolution, through Stalin's industrialization and The Great Patriotic War, and on up through the fall of the Soviet Union toward the present day.
  • The Title Sequence of Wing Commander does an audio version of Mankind's history of space exploration up until the declaration of war with the Kilrathi.
  • Detention does this in reverse to highlight Elliot's time warp from the present day (2011) back to 1992. In order, he stops in 2008 with the Pussycat Dolls playing and his classmates wearing Hip-Hop-inspired fashion, in '05 with The Bravery playing and his classmates dressed like Emo Teens, in '03 with 50 Cent playing and everyone in Von Dutch trucker caps, in '98 with the Backstreet Boys playing and everyone dressed like either a Boy Band member or Britney Spears, and in '94 with Hole playing and everyone wearing flannel and denim. When he finally arrives in '92, someone's listening to Public Enemy and the fashions of The '80s are still lingering, especially on the Valley Girl Sloan who looks like a dead ringer for Cher Horowitz. The only constant is Elliot with his gray hoodie.
  • In Cavalcade, the years between 1918 and 1933 are portrayed rather negatively in a single montage that shows drinking, dancing, strident political demagoguery, and—horrors!—gays and lesbians.
  • In The Time Machine (2002), the time travel through the 20th and 21st century is in effect portrayed in this form. At first it's from the viewpoint of the protagonist in the time machine, from where he witnesses the development of automobiles and via a nearby shop window also the changes in female fashion. Then the scene segues into an Astronomic Zoom, showcasing the development of airplane flight and finally space flight.
  • The opening titles in Soylent Green play under a photo montage showing technology advancing through the 20th century, getting bigger and more environmentally destructive, ending in the mess that is the movie's setting.
  • In Oldboy, a progressing series of TV news fragments is shown to present the duration of Oh Dae-su's captivity in a single hotel room with only a TV set as means of contact with the outside world.
  • The introduction to Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets shows the evolution of a human Space Station into the eponymous city in space, and its role as a diplomatic nexus first for human races, then alien ones.
  • The opening of Searching showcases the evolution of social media in the 21st century against the backdrop of Margot's childhood, with various incarnations of YouTube, AOL Instant Messenger, Facebook, Instagram, and even screamer videos and Flash games going by as Margot grows into a teenager.
  • X-Men: Apocalypse has just before the title a montage showing all the technology and events that happened between the Distant Prologue's ancient Egypt and the movie's 1983 setting.

  • Edward Rutherfurd's novels, such as Sarum, Russka and others, goes on like this, where every chapter goes to a new era and a new generation. Sometimes a single object or locale links the two sides of the transition, as when a medieval artisan completes a painting that he's proud to think will forever grace a chapel ... only for his Reformation-era iconoclast descendant to righteously smash it to bits in the next scene.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The episode "Fragments" of Torchwood has a montage of Capt. Jack's personnel file being copied into newer technology (first written with a pen, then typed on a typewriter, then copied onto progressively more advanced computers) through the entire 20th century.
  • The Big Bang Theory opens with a rapid-fire montage showing nothing less than the entire history of the universe, the lyrics to the theme describing a hot, dense globe of matter exploding and expanding, the planets forming and congealing, humans evolving and civilization developing. (The rarely heard second verse goes into more detail, describing prehistoric animals.) It ends with the sitcom's five main characters sitting on a couch and staring at their TV.
  • Star Trek: Enterprise's intro shows the history of human exploration starting with the Age of Sail and ending with the NX-01 Enterprise leaving orbit and warping out.
  • The original Cosmos includes a line animation depicting evolution from one-celled organisms to modern humanity. The second iteration uses it as well.

  • The Who:
    • During live performances of Quadrophenia, during the instrumental title track, footage is shown from World War II up to the early-mid 1960's, when the story takes place.
    • On their 2012-13 tour performing Quadrophenia, during the song, "The Rock", a montage of events that have happened from the era the story takes place in up to the present (including the Vietnam War, Nixon's resignation, the deaths of Elvis Presley, Keith Moon and John Lennon, Margaret Thatcher becoming Prime Minister of England, Prince Charles & Princess Diana's wedding, the Berlin Wall coming down, Waco, Princess Diana's funeral, Columbine, the new millennium, 9/11, John Entwistle's death, Hurricane Katrina and the Occupy Wall Street movement) is shown.
  • The Hold Steady’s song Positive Jam runs through the entire history of the 20th century, leading up to the founding of the band.
  • Billy Joel's oft-parodied "We Didn't Start the Fire" is this trope in song form, recounting famous (and infamous) events from Joel's birth in 1949 up until the present day of 1989. Because of the year it was released, it wound up becoming an inadvertent chronicle of most of the major events of the Cold War. The point of the song was to argue that people have always felt like the world was on the edge of chaos, with Joel having gotten the idea after hearing a young man talk about how it was "a terrible time to be 21" while waxing nostalgic over The '50s (a decade he didn't live through) as a time when "nothing happened", to which Joel responded by bringing up The Korean War and the Suez crisis.

    Music Videos 

    Video Games 
  • The launch trailer for Civilization VI starts with a man drawing a map and contemplates with his wife that they'll set sail to new places and adapt when they get there. When she asks that, the man, in procession, lights up the Colossus, arrives in China via the Silk Road, goes to war in Winged Hussar gear, tests out the Wright Brothers' flying machine, and then, facing an aerial dogfight. The last scene ends with wife embarking on exploring space with him saying that, to paraphrase it, the sky's the limit. Most other games in the series do the same.
  • Star Ocean: Till the End of Time does this for its intro sequence, showing spacecraft development, with ships from previous games in the Star Ocean series after running out of historical ones.

    Web Animation 
  • Sam & Mickey's The Real Housewives of Toys 'R' Us episode #2 flashes back to each time from the '60s to the New Tens that Barbie realized that she had become pregnant, with changing fashions and decor, and increasingly clearer video quality, illustrating the different decades.

    Web Comics 
  • In Darwin Carmichael Is Going to Hell, the angels visit Darwin a few decades too early, showing up in the 1950's instead of the 2000s. One strip has a different decade in each panel, as they become hippies, go to woodstock, do lots of coke in the 80's, etc.

    Web Videos 
  • This 2011 video of the East London Style does much, where the background music and the dancers' clothes changes over 100 years in just 100 seconds.
  • 100 Years of Fitness, a video progression showcasing 'fitness fads' from the 1910s stretching exercises up to 2010s Zumba.
  • Cut Video's 100 Years of Beauty series shows hair and make-up styles for each decade since the 1910s, from the point of view of a single country, except the United States, which is done five times (twice for White American fashion, twice for African American fashion, and once for Native American fashion).
  • Many YouTube channels, such as TR3X Productions, compile the history of Vanity Plates for particular companies, often arranged chronologically. These videos inevitably become Progressive Era Montages.

    Western Animation 
  • The Cartoon Network Groovies short "Musical Evolution" had Josie and the Pussycats performing in several different time periods (and costumes), including the 1970s disco era, 90s metal, the Wild West (country and western), 80s KISS style rock, and modern disc jockey style. Watch it here.
  • The Simpsons: This is done in a couple of the Couch Gags:
    • One has Homer starting as a unicellular organism, becomes a fish, climbs out of the ocean, evolves into a human, walks through parts of human history, and ends up at his sofa, and Marge asking "Where have you been?".
    • Another shows the Simpsons as the casts of Sitcoms from different eras.
  • The opening scene of Wreck-It Ralph progresses through 30 years as evidenced by the change of video game platforms.
  • When Fry gets frozen in the cryogenic tube in the first episode of Futurama, time starts slipping by, showing New York being destroyed by aliens, rebuilt, destroyed by aliens again, forests growing and humanity reverting back to the Middle Ages and rebuilding New York again with castles, get destroyed by aliens again, and then finally the New New York of the year 2999 springs up.
  • Phineas and Ferb, featuring Love Handel gives us a little history about rock. Anyone of you can tell where the colours came from...
  • Similar to The Simpsons example above, the opening title sequence of Dilbert starts with the Big Bang, then zooms in to Earth to show the title character as a single-celled organism, a succession of sea creatures, a land reptile, a caveman, and finally a modern office worker.


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