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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. 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. 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).
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). However, Jean Renoir's 1939 The Rules of the Game first used a narrative structure based on multiple characters and predates Altman's Nashville by 36 years.
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." 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."
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 ?i?ek. 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.
^ abSoja, 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.
^Narine, Neil (2010). "Global Trauma and the Cinematic Network Society". Critical Studies in Media Communication. 27 (3): 209-234. doi:10.1080/15295030903583556.