16 Complicated Movie Plots Explained With Infographic Timelines

by Drew Skau 1 year ago Filed Under: Design

Movies often have complex plots, tell their story out of order, or involve time travel. Those things create loops in the storyline that can be difficult to follow at first viewing. Watching a movie a second time (and third, fourth, and so on) can help — and so can infographics. Here are 16 infographics that break down the timelines of some popular movies, organized by genre or storytelling type.

Time Travel Movies

Movies with time travel can be hard to understand completely. Sometimes the relative time differences are hard to grasp, and the relative duration spent in each time can be hard to measure. These infographics put those wibbly wobbly timey wimey timelines into a visual format to make them easier to grasp.

Looper

Looper: The Timelines

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12 Monkeys

12 Monkeys

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Back to the Future

Back To The Future Timeline

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Non Linear Storytelling

Even if a plot doesn’t involve time travel, some movies tell their story out of order. This helps to create suspense and keep the viewer engaged, but can be confusing. These infographics put movies back in chronological order.

21 Grams

21 Grams Timeline

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Memento

Memento Scene Timeline

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Pulp Fiction

Pulp Fiction Timeline

by Dehahs.
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Coded Information

Sometimes directors and script writers include information at the beginning of a movie, but the viewer doesn’t know that info was important until the end of the movie. This technique can add a lot of depth to the plot, and certainly adds to repeated viewing — but it also confounds the viewer. These infographics help you figure things out.

Saw

Saw Timeline Infographic

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Inception

Inception Timeline

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The Big Lebowski

The Big Lebowski Time Line

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Complex Character Interaction

Some movies just have a large roster of characters with parallel timelines and different scene settings. This leads to a complex set of interactions between characters that can be diagrammed well.

Harry Potter

JK Rowling analysed (English)

by accurat.
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The Lord of the Rings

Timeline of the One Ring

by ejoh.
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Lord Of The Rings

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The Hobbit

O Hobbit - Guia de Uma Jornada Inesperada

by mayra.artes.
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Timeline of the Elves in Tolkien

by ejoh.
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Timeline of the dwarves in the Hobbit

by ejoh.
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Lord of the Rings, Jurassic Park, 12 Angry Men, Star Wars, Primer

Character Interaction

by xkcd.
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Movies use lots of interesting techniques to engage their audience, make the plot work, increase suspense, and enhance the story. Sometimes these techniques can get confusing, but in most cases, a visual diagram can clarify everything.

 
Drew Skau is Visualization Architect at Visual.ly and a PhD Computer Science Visualization student at UNCC with an undergraduate degree in Architecture. You can follow him on twitter @SeeingStructure