Hyperlink cinema

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Hyperlink cinema is a term coined by author Alissa Quart, who used the term in her review of the film Happy Endings (2005) for the film journal Film Comment in 2005.[1] Film critic Roger Ebert popularized the term when reviewing the film Syriana in 2005.[2] These films are not hypermedia and do not have actual hyperlinks, but are multilinear in a more metaphorical sense.

In describing Happy Endings, Quart considers captions acting as footnotes and split screen as elements of hyperlink cinema and notes the influence of the World Wide Web and multitasking.[1] Playing with time and characters' personal history, plot twists, interwoven storylines between multiple characters, jumping between the beginning and end (flashback and flashforward) are also elements.[1] Ebert further described hyperlink cinema as films where the characters or action reside in separate stories, but a connection or influence between those disparate stories is slowly revealed to the audience; illustrated in Mexican director Alejandro González Iñárritu's films Amores perros (2000), 21 Grams (2003), and Babel (2006).[2][3]

Quart suggests that director Robert Altman created the structure for the genre and demonstrated its usefulness for combining interlocking stories in his films Nashville (1975) and Short Cuts (1993).[4] However, Satyajit Ray's 1962 classic Kanchenjunga has a narrative structure similar to hyperlink cinema and predates Altman's Nashville by 13 years.[5] Ray's contemporaries Mrinal Sen and Ritwik Ghatak employed the structure in their films Calcutta 71 and Titash Ekti Nadir Naam respectively, both predating Altman's Nashville.[6]

Quart also mentions the television series 24 and discusses Alan Rudolph’s film Welcome to L.A. (1976) as an early prototype.[1] Crash (2004) is an example of the genre, as are Steven Soderbergh's Traffic (2000), City of God (2002), Syriana (2005), and Nine Lives (2005).[4]


The hyperlink cinema narrative and story structure can be compared to social science's spatial analysis. As described by Edward Soja and Costis Hadjimichalis spatial analysis examines the "'horizontal experience' of human life, the spatial dimension of individual behavior and social relations, as opposed to the 'vertical experience' of history, tradition, and biography."[7] English critic John Berger notes for the novel that "it is scarcely any longer possible to tell a straight story sequentially unfolding in time" for "we are too aware of what is continually traversing the story line laterally."[7] An academic analysis of hyperlink cinema appeared in the journal Critical Studies in Media Communication, and referred to the films as Global Network Films. Narine's study examines the films Traffic (2000), Amores perros (2000), 21 Grams (2003), Beyond Borders (2003), Crash (2004; released 2005), Syriana (2005), Babel (2006) and others, citing network theorist Manuel Castells and philosophers Michel Foucault and Slavoj Žižek. The study suggests that the films are network narratives that map the network society and the new connections citizens experience in the age of globalization.[8]

Hyperlink films[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i Quart, Alissa (Jul–Aug 2005). "Networked". Film Comment 41 (4): 48–5. Retrieved Jan 28, 2014. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f Ebert, Roger (2005-12-09). "Syriana". Reviews (rogerebert.com). Retrieved 2007-07-25. 
  3. ^ a b c d Ebert, Roger (2007-09-22). "Babel". Reviews (rogerebert.com). Retrieved 2008-02-08. 
  4. ^ a b Ebert, Roger (2006). Roger Ebert's Movie Yearbook 2007. Andrews McMeel Publishing. p. 100. ISBN 0-7407-6157-9
  5. ^ http://www.amc.com/movie/1962/Kanchenjungha
  6. ^ http://www.hindustantimes.com/photos/entertainment/iwantedtoliveritwikghatak/article4-1181084.aspx
  7. ^ a b Soja, Edward W.; Hadjimichalis, Costis (1979). "Between Geographical Materialism and Spatial Fetishism: Some Observations on the Development of Marxist Spatial Analysis". Antipode 17 (2–3): 59–67. doi:10.1111/j.1467-8330.1985.tb00334.x. 
  8. ^ Narine, Neil (2010). "Global Trauma and the Cinematic Network Society". Critical Studies in Media Communication 27 (3): 209–234. doi:10.1080/15295030903583556. 
  9. ^ http://www.amc.com/movie/1962/Kanchenjungha
  10. ^ Ghatak, Ritwik (2000). Rows and Rows of Fences: Ritwik Ghatak on Cinema. Ritwik Memorial & Trust Seagull Books. pp. ix & 134–36. ISBN 81-7046-178-2. 
  11. ^ a b Bütün Filmleriyle Yilmaz Güney by Agah Özguc
  12. ^ Ebert, Roger (2009-01-14). "After Hours". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 2009-01-17. 
  13. ^ Kipp, Jeremiah (12 August 2008). "Before the Rain | Film Review | Slant Magazine". Retrieved on March 3, 2010.
  14. ^ Exotica Roger Ebert Great Movies
  15. ^ Booker, M. Keith. (2007). In Postmodern Hollywood. Greenwood Publishing Group. pp. 12–21. ISBN 0-275-99900-9. Google Book Search. Retrieved on October 18, 2008.
  16. ^ a b http://books.google.com.co/books?id=QluEtNUBblUC&pg=PA13&lpg=PA13&dq=SNATCH+HYPERLINK+CINEMA&source=bl&ots=aS4Y81oAZD&sig=VupYLNvqPUf2b1r-B1kdEf6bQGg&hl=es&sa=X&ei=NSzkUd39DJDQywGB24GQCw&ved=0CFAQ6AEwBQ#v=onepage&q=SNATCH%20HYPERLINK%20CINEMA&f=false
  17. ^ Holden, Stephen (22 January 1999). "Movie Review – Playing By Heart – FILM REVIEW; In a Cocktail of Romance, Different Flavors of Love – NYTimes.com". Retrieved on March 3, 2010.
  18. ^ http://www.festival-cannes.com/en/archives/ficheFilm/id/5141/year/2000.html
  19. ^ a b c Ebert, Roger (2006-01-06). "Cape of Good Hope". Reviews (rogerebert.com). Retrieved 2008-02-08. 
  20. ^ Ebert, Roger (2002-01-18). "Lantana". Reviews (rogerebert.com). Retrieved 2009-02-14. 
  21. ^ http://www.devon-cornwall-film.co.uk/2012/04/12/1114-an-obscure-gem-of-a-movie-review/
  22. ^ "Look Both Ways". Chicago Sun-Times. 
  23. ^ Skinner, Marjorie. (4 September 2008). "The Celestial Prophecy :: Living on The Edge of Heaven". Portland Mercury. Retrieved on September 5, 2008.
  24. ^ Gandert, Sean. (18 October 2007). "Paste Magazine  :: Review :: Rendition". Paste. Retrieved on February 8, 2008.
  25. ^ "The Air I Breathe – Movie – Review – The New York Times". The New York Times. Retrieved on May 13, 2008.
  26. ^ van Hoeij, Boyd. (19 May 2008). "European Films – review: Gomorra (Gomorrah) (Cannes 2008)". Retrieved on October 30, 2008.
  27. ^ Gupta, Shubra (23 August 2008). "Mumbai Meri Jaan (Hindi)". Retrieved on August 8, 2009.
  28. ^ Snider, Eric D. (16 February 2010). "Portland Film Fest Review: Ajami – Cinematical". Retrieved on March 3, 2010.
  29. ^ Anderson, Melissa. (8 May 2009). "Powder Blue Review – Read Variety's Analysis Of The Movie Powder Blue". Retrieved on July 21, 2010.
  30. ^ "REVIEW: Hereafter « Marshall and the Movies". Marshall and the Movies. 
  31. ^ Akhilesh. (8 May 2009). "[1]". Retrieved on January 11, 2011.
  32. ^ http://www.nowrunning.com/movie/8593/malayalam/bombay-march-12/3185/review.htm
  33. ^ Wickman, Forrest (September 9, 2011). "Steven Soderbergh's Contagion". Slate.com. 
  34. ^ LaSalle, Mick (25 October 2012). "'Cloud Atlas' review: Baring your soul - SFGate". SFGate. Retrieved on June 8, 2013.

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