To you remember those “Choose Your Adventure” books you used to read as a kid? You could decide what would happen to the main character by choosing what actions they take. While this has been the norm in gameplay for decades, it has now only catching on in movies. In the series Black Mirror, the creators latest offering is “Bandersnatch” which is quickly building its own devoted fan club because instead of passively watching, users navigate the many choices of Netflix’ first interactive film.
“Bandersnatch” has five different endings and over one trillion different storytelling combinations based on the choices each viewer (or game player) makes throughout the story. Fans have been obsessively mapping out different narratives. In fact, friends, co-workers and family members have been using flow charts to map out visually the different storylines.
In “Bandersnatch” viewers are asked to decide whether what the protagonist Stefan (Fionn Whitehead) should do. Some of the actions are: pick up a book, what type of music to play, or whether to throw a cup or not.
Bandersnatch is a basically a giant tribute to science fiction author Philip K. Dick. The Netflix interactive movie isn’t technically an adaptation of any of the famous author’s works – like Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, The Man in the High Castle or A Scanner Darkly, which were all adapted for the big screen –but for all practical purposes, it might be seen as a sequel of some kind.
There are the same themes that Philip K. Dick explored through out his writing including alternative universes, authoritarian governments, and other philosophical, political and social ideas. Stefan questioning the nature of his choices but it becomes more on the nose with Bandersnatch faux-fantasy author, Jerome F. Davies, one of the characters Stefan interacts with. In Bandersnatch Davies is painted as a brilliant fantasy author who went insane after he believed he was controlled by beings from beyond.
The movie was shot in only 35 days and featured a script from creator Charlie Brooker that was 157 pages long. The average “Black Mirror” script runs 65 pages, which makes “Bandersnatch” just under 100 pages longer than a normal episode.
Since it's an interactive movie, users need to have some sort of control over it, meaning you can't watch it simply on some speciality streaming apps like Chrome Cast or Screen Mirroring. Instead you have to watch on a smartphone, PC, console, or tablet. Some other users also reported having issues with watching it on their Smart TV's, despite Netflix's claims it would be accessible.
This episode, or film, or game – whatever you want to call it –feels very similar with everything Black Mirror creator Charlie Brooker seems to believe about storytelling. In countless episodes of Black Mirror— from “Fifteen Million Merits” to “San Junipero” and especially “USS Callister” — characters are all caught in larger system in which their own personal truth doesn’t matter. As much as anyone in a Black Mirror episode tries to control his or her fate, things are out of his or her control as bigger forces are at play.
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