Black Mirror: Bandersnatch (Netflix, 2018)
It was in the mid-80’s when I encountered the Choose Your Own Adventure book series. A classmate introduced me to this type of interactive reading.
It was also the decade when role playing games (RPG) like Dungeons and Dragons were starting to become popular.
Then a few years ago, while I was still working for a school, a student presented his thesis: an interactive YouTube video.
Just recently, I watched Black Mirror: Bandersnatch, a stand-alone film apart from the series. I haven’t watched the Black Mirror series but from what I gathered, it is something like The Twilight Zone. But seeing Bandersnatch reminds me of all the things I’ve mentioned.
The interactive film starts with an instruction to choose one from two options within ten seconds. The story follows the life of Stefan (Fionn Whitehead), a young game developer who is developing a game based from a choose your own adventure novel by Jerome F. Davies called Bandersnatch.
Viewers can choose what cereal he eats, music to listen to, and other actions. The decision will lead to a path of a storyline until you reach a perceived ending.
It’s been said that there are ten to twelve endings, some of them don’t seem to be an obvious ending as compared to the others. And there is no prescribed ending, either.
While watching, I’ve got the feeling of too many homages to iconic literary classics. Bandersnatch is from Lewis Caroll’s novel Through the Looking Glass. The year 1984, where the story is set, is a homage to George Orwell’s novel of the same title. Some critics say that there were also references to Black Mirror episodes.
If you get to a “wrong path” or quick ending, you end up going back from where it starts or left off and repeat. It goes on a loop, I guess, until you get to finish the story.
I think I went through 3 possible endings while watching it. I only stopped when I saw on the upper right side of the screen “Exit to Credits”. And unlike other Netflix films, this doesn’t have the film length indicator. So I wasn’t able to pause, rewind, or go forward like I used to.
I’m going to give it 4 out of 5 stars because I find the story intriguing but I felt that I’m going through an endless loop while watching.