Black Mirror: Bandersnatch (2018) – An Awesome Experience

Black Mirror” is a series that’s able to immerse its audience into a difficult storyline. Full of satire and twist, this science fiction makes every episode always interesting. Charlie Brooker finally announced an interactive film from the latest episode of this series. This interactive film has a free plot in making its own choices. It’s like a video game but it’s a movie. More precisely, this film is like a meta-narrative such as visual novels or any Telltale Games. “Bandersnatch” turned to the past, showing something very complex.

Speaking of “Black Mirror”, fans acknowledged many extensive references to each episode presented. From one universe to another or one character to another, each episode has a connection between fragmentation and knot. “Bandersnatch” itself inspired by a game called “Brataccas” in 1986 for the Amiga, Atari ST, and Macintosh. The word “Bandersnatch” also taken from a literary work. “Through the Looking Glass” by Lewis Carroll, a sequel to “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland”. It’s a monster that Alice found when she waded through Wonderland. The film implies a strong close relationship from a literary work entitled “1984” by George Orwell. As well as the movie is in the 1984 setting. Both have satirical values about the lack of free will, control is an illusion, playing God, and monitoring.

The story followed the Dunkirk kid named Stefan Butler (Fionn Whitehead), a programmer. He is so obsessed with his idol Colin Ritman (Will Poulter), a popular game developer. He tried to make his own video game. Stefan is trying to adapt Bandersnatch, a choose-your-own-adventure fantasy thriller novel written by the psychopath. He came to a publishing company while had an idea of the game adaptation. However, Stefan began to become paranoid, drive insane, and get stuck in small choice frames. As if, he felt controlled by someone starting from how he chose the song he would hear or breakfast cereal. And that person is “you” who is playing as God or the person who controls Stefan.

The interactive feature of choosing-your-own-adventure was nothing new despite media differences. Even Telltale Games and visual novels have introduced this idea for a very long time. But as a gamer as well, Charlie Brooker introduces this film where the audience participates in the game. Unlike any Telltale Games or visual novels which rely more on the butterfly effect, “Bandersnatch” holds tightly in control. Control where the character breaks its meta-narrative. Instead of telling the audience to read a text, move, or open a new page, this film facilitates your choice. Just using a TV remote or mouse on a PC. An experiment that’s truly different than just sitting on the couch.

On the other hand, Netflix tries to limit its viewing experience of the audience. So, they didn’t pirate this interactive movie. The experience of watching this film on Netflix makes much more interesting. If you get an unsatisfactory ending, there is a checkpoint where you have to find another end to the storyline. You would still herd for five hours if you want to get the whole choice or ending. If you watch the story too much, you are forced to roll back if there is a dead end choice. Various choices sometimes use a meta-narrative was much funnier when you introduce yourself as Netflix from the future.

However, “Bandersnatch” tries to be a Telltale game where complex choices have different outcomes. If you choose the wrong path, you have to go back from the choices you’ve made. This is then more monotonous when you see the same dialogue over and over again. David Slade, who also directed “Metalhead“, made the audience forced to follow this piece of the paranoid story from Stefan. This interactive film has a lot of easter eggs from the previous episodes of “Black Mirror” besides “Metalhead”. There are also “Nosedive” and “White Bear’s” logo. Brooker also initially wanted to make “Playtest” as an interactive film.

The impression of the satire is not too strong from many episodes of “Black Mirror”. But, “Bandersnatch” puts Whitehead with Poulter as a video game living both of them. The acting and the visual is great especially when Colin explains the philosophical “Pac-Man” game. Apparently, both of these films have a strong and repetitive connection as in the “White Bear” episode. It’s not really that bad as one of the special episodes and introducing new ideas in a film. But, I want to see these features going forward.

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Salman Al Farisi

An Indonesian who loves to watch and read everything. A literary student who likes to write about reviews and essays on Crackdown Review. But, I just wannabe critics who love arthouse than anything.

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