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15 Movies That Were Shot in Chronological Order

Updated 16 Jul 2020 157.4k views15 items

Here’s something you maybe never thought of before: movies are not shot in chronological order. From a sheer logistics standpoint, it’s not cost effective or efficient to shoot a film in order. For example, let’s say that a film has 10 scenes to shoot on location at a beach house on the Jersey shore. Those ten scenes appear throughout the entire film, however, all those scenes would be shot together. A production team needs to set up lighting, electricians need to run wires, and a set designer basically takes over someone’s house to turn it into whatever is needed for the movie. However, every once in a while, a director opts to shoot a script in order. Here are 15 films shot in chronological order.

If it’s not efficient to produce movies shot in chronological order, then why does it sometimes occur? Most often, it’s to get the best performances out of actors. In E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, director Steven Spielberg wanted the children actors to be as emotional as possible when E.T. finally gets the opportunity to go home. The kids knew that the film was about to wrap, so when they were saying farewell to their extra-terrestrial friend on camera, they knew that they were going to be saying goodbye to all the people they met while making the movie.

Some directors almost seem to prefer to make movies shot in order. Spanish auteur Alejandro Iñárritu shot his first English speaking film 21 Grams and his Oscar winning The Revenant in chronological order. Spielberg also shot the legendary 30-minute Omaha Beach scene of Saving Private Ryan in order.

For whatever their reasons, some filmmakers don’t mind the possible logistics nightmare of a chronological shoot. Some production decisions are made not with ease in mind but rather with art. Not every movie on this list was a critical or box office hit. However, there are several iconic movies featured that perhaps would not be the same if not for a visionary director who wasn’t scared to break the rules.
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