Document Type


Publication Date

Fall 2007

Published In

Film Criticism


Rehak considers the ways in which the film "The Matrix" "branded" bullet time both as technical process and stylistic convention, and discusses bullet time's ancestry in image experimentation of the 1980s and 1990s. In his analysis, Rehak uses the conceptual framework of the microgenre to explore the cultural lifespan of bullet time, treating it less as a singular special effect than a package of photographic and digital techniques whose fortunes were shaped by a complex interplay of technology, narrative and style. Rehak's goal is to shed light not just on bullet time, but on the changing behavior of visual texts in contemporary media. He examines an overview of special effects scholarship to date, most notably the indication that the repetition of special effects dulls their effectiveness, in part due to the changing competencies of audiences. Rehak also looks at the struggle of the filmmakers of "The Matrix" to craft sequels that simultaneously preserved bullet time's appeal while varying it enough to ensure another breakthrough.


This work is freely available courtesy of Film Criticism and Allegheny College.