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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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  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • A British Burger King ad shows a man walking through every decade from The '60s forwards, passing Whopper ads like posters and billboards. When he finally reaches Burger King in The New '20s, he orders a Chicken Royale.
  • A Carmax commercial, "Instant Offer," sees a woman prop up a "For Sale" sign on the window of her car, and suddenly imagines the car sitting in the same spot for years; from surges in futuristic city development to what appears to be an alien apocalypse.
  • 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 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 Doritos commercial, "Nacho Cheese Forever", shows two young men shopping at a shoe store when the clothes, accessories, and even electronics they own begin to rapidly change as if they entered a time machine.
  • A 2017 UK Ford advert about the new Ford Focus has Keeley Hawes 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.
  • Frigidaire's "More than 90 Years of Innovation" commercial shows the company's innovations through the years.
  • This Gilette body razor commercial does this with the changing facial hairstyles as the era progresses.
  • FTX Bitcoin's "Don't Miss Out" ad features Larry David, throughout history, saying how various ideas and inventions will never be popular, even though everyone else disagrees. In other words, don't be like Larry.
  • A Guinness commercial entitled "noitulovE" travels backward in time 500 million years, as three men revert from modern humans each enjoying a glass of Guinness to prehistoric mudskippers drinking out of a disgusting waterhole.
  • The 2008 Hovis Bread Commercial, "Go On, Lad!" focuses on a boy who, in 122 seconds (referencing Hovis being 122 years old at the time of the advert), walks down on history lane from the Victorian Era to the present day as he walks down through significant events on British history.
  • The Hyundai Ioniq 5 commercial "History Of Evolution" sees Jason Bateman immersing himself through different time periods to show how the first vehicles weren't the fastest, the first maps weren't accurate, and the first electric vehicles weren't up to their potential.
  • An IHOP commercial, "The Future of Bacon," has a man standing on the rooftop of an IHOP building to announce the chain's Steakhouse Premium Bacon, which is said to be 5 times bigger than regular bacon and is so great that the culinary invention will last 100 years into the future.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 Nike ad for the 2004 World Series, showing two brothers watching the Red Sox from 1918 to 2004.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • The Sprint Galaxy Forever commercial has a Sprint employee inform two customers that when they lease a Samsung Galaxy S9, not only can they get another for a friend, but with Galaxy Forever, the two women can upgrade to the newest Galaxy every year, like pre-ordering for the future. Both women ask if it's really every year, eventually transporting to the far future where almost everyone, including spokesperson Paul, exist as holograms. When the two women ask once again, a futuristic robot clarifies that yes, it's every year, and asks why no one is getting this.
  • A Tivo commercial titled "Fast Forward" shows a young couple in The '90s about to watch Star Trek: The Next Generation, but the guy accidentally fast forwards into the present, where they now have Tivo Stream 4K and a daughter.
  • A 2024 Cadbury's ad commemorating 200 years of Dairy Milk, remakes a 2018 ad about a girl trying to buy a bar of chocolate for her mother, only this version starts in 1824, and then sees the fashions and technology (and, of course, the Dairy Milk wrapper) gradually move forward.

    Comic Books 
  • The Sandman (1989): In "Men of Good Fortune", Dream of the Endless has the medieval peasant Hob Gadling made immortal so they can meet once per century to discuss Hob's life experiences. The montage shows their meetings from 1389 to 1989 as the world changes around them.

    Films — Animated 
  • The end credits of WALL•E shows the evolution of art, starting with cave drawings and hieroglyphs and culminating with Vincent van Gogh-style art.
  • The opening scene of Wreck-It Ralph progresses through 30 years as evidenced by the change of video game platforms.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • 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.
  • 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 (but whose attempt to find service on her Cell Phone immediately marks her as a fellow time-traveler). The only constant is Elliot with his gray hoodie.
  • Gangs of New York famously ends on one of these, showing New York City as it grows from the 1860s to the modern day, set to U2's "The Hands That Built America." Despite the movie being released in 2002, the last shot shows the pre-9/11 NYC skyline, complete with Twin Towers. Martin Scorsese insisted on keeping them in because, as he put it, "the people in the film... were part of the creation of that skyline, not the destruction of it."
  • 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 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 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.
  • 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 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 fashion. Then the scene segues into an Astronomic Zoom, showcasing the development of airplane flight and finally space flight.
  • 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 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.
  • 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 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.
  • The original Cosmos has the famous "Some of the Things that Molecules Do" sequence, a line animation depicting evolution from one-celled organisms to modern humanity. The second iteration uses it as well.
  • 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 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.

  • 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.
  • The Hold Steady’s song "Positive Jam" runs through the entire history of the 20th century, leading up to the founding of the band.
  • 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.

    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.
  • A promotional trailer for Metroid Dread features Samus walking through settings from the first four games, complete with the appropriate graphics from each game, as the video explains the events leading up to Dread. It even features a Retraux rendition of Samus's Gunship from Metroid: Zero Mission, which was otherwise unrepresented in the video.
  • 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.
  • The anime cutscenes added to the PS1 port for Chrono Trigger begin with an opening Title Montage that shows a dial with hands rapidly rotating to indicate the party's Time Machine traveling through the different eras chronologically from prehistory onwards. Each era is denoted by a distinctive landmark overlooked by one (or more) of the party's main characters: Prehistory—Tyranno Lair (Ayla), Middle Ages—Magus' Keep (Frog), Present—Guardia Castle (Crono and Lucca), Future—Proto Dome (Robo). The exception is Antiquity, which shows the Kingdom of Zeal, something of a spoiler for the game, but with no overlooking character. Because that character, Janus/Magus, would be doubly a spoiler, both in revealing his true identity hailing from that era, and the fact he can become a bonus party member.

    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 
  • 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).
  • 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.
  • Many YouTube channels, such as TR3X PR0DÚCTÍ0NS, JontyMaster and DellFan Productions, compile the history of Vanity Plates for particular companies, often arranged chronologically. These videos inevitably become Progressive Era Montages.

    Western Animation