“A MIND-BENDING CHOOSE-YOUR-OWN-ADVENTURE STORY!”
“BEWARE THE BANDERSNATCH, MY SON! THE JAWS THAT BITE, THE CLAWS THAT CATCH! BEWARE THE FRUMIOUS BANDERSNATCH!”
“WHAT IT ADDS UP TO IS TRULY REMARKABLE – A SYNAPSE-FLENSING CAPER THAT QUERIES THE NATURE OF REALITY, THE EXISTENCE OF FREE WILL AND WHETHER VIDEO GAMES HAVE GOT ANY BETTER SINCE THE GLORY DAYS OF LORD OF MIDNIGHT AND KNIGHT LORE…” – Ed Power, The Telegraph
“In giving the viewer a smattering of choice, Black Mirror’s most disturbing episode yet argues forcefully that none of us are really in control of anything.”
“Black Mirror: Bandersnatch” is a 2018 interactive film in the science fiction anthology series “Black Mirror”.
Written by series creator Charlie Brooker and directed by David Slade, Netflix released it on 28 December 2018 as a standalone film.
In “Bandersnatch”, viewers make decisions for the main character, young programmer Stefan Butler (Fionn Whitehead) who adapts a fantasy novel into a video game in 1984.
The film is based on a planned Imagine Software video game of the same name which went unreleased after the company filed for bankruptcy. A piece of science fiction and horror, “Bandersnatch” incorporates meta-commentary and rumination on free will.
“Bandersnatch is presented as an interactive film.
A brief tutorial, specific to the device being streamed on, explains to the viewer how to make choices. They have ten seconds to make choices, or a default decision is made. Once a playthrough ends, the viewer is given an option of going back and making a different choice.
The average viewing is 90 minutes, though the quickest path ends after 40 minutes. There are 150 minutes of unique footage divided into 250 segments.
IGN reports that according to Netflix, there are five “main” endings, with variants within each ending. When the viewer reaches such an ending, the interactive film gives the player the option to redo a last critical choice as to be able to explore these endings. In some cases, the viewer can reach the same segment in multiple different ways, but be given different choices based on the way they reached the segment. In other cases, certain loops guide viewers to a specific narrative regardless of the choices they make.
“FORTUNATELY, IT WORKS. BANDERSNATCH IS A MASTERPIECE OF SOPHISTICATION. FROM A USER VIEWPOINT, IT IS SEAMLESS… AS AN EXPERIENCE, IT’S REMARKABLE. EVEN MORE REMARKABLE, THOUGH, IS THE AMBITION OF STORYTELLING ON DISPLAY.
“BY THE TIME I’D FINISHED EXPLORING I WAS LEFT WITH A PROFOUND FEELING OF SATISFACTION, AS IF BLACK MIRROR HAD PRODDED ME TOWARDS THE ENDING IT FELT WAS BEST. WHICH MAKES SENSE BECAUSE, AFTER ALL, FREE WILL IS AN ILLUSION.” – Stuart Heritage, The Guardian
The term “bandersnatch” originates from a fictional creature created by Lewis Carroll, which appear in his 1870s poems “Jabberwocky” and “The Hunting of the Snark”.
The film makes several allusions to Carroll’s works. Part of Butler’s motivation is to find his stuffed rabbit toy which leads him to discover deeper secrets, comparable to Alice’s quest to find the White Rabbit in “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland”. Main character Butler is lead into a psychedelic experience, correlating to the Mad Hatter’s tea party from the same story. At one point, Butler travels through a mirror, or literally going Through the Looking-Glass. The design of the Pax (the creature that must be avoided during the video game session) is similar to Carroll’s own drawing of the Bandersnatch
“Black Mirror” is a British anthology science fiction television series created by Charlie Brooker, with Brooker and Annabel Jones serving as the programme showrunners. It was launched on the 4h December 2011.
It examines modern society, particularly with regard to the unanticipated consequences of new technologies.
Episodes are standalone, usually set in an alternative present or the near future, often with a dark and satirical tone, though some are more experimental and lighter.
Brooker developed “Black Mirror” to highlight topics related to humanity’s relationship to technology, creating stories that feature “the way we live now – and the way we might be living in 10 minutes’ time if we’re clumsy.”
The series premiered for two series on the British television channel Channel 4 in December 2011 and February 2013, respectively.
After its addition to the catalogue in December 2014, Netflix purchased the programme in September 2015. It commissioned a series of 12 episodes later divided into the third and fourth series, each six episodes; the former was released on 21 October 2016 and the latter on 29 December 2017. A fifth series was announced on 5 March 2018. A standalone interactive film was released on December 28, 2018.
The series has garnered positive reception from critics, and received many awards and nominations, and seen an increase in interest internationally, particularly in the United States after its addition to Netflix.
TWO EPISODES, “SAN JUNIPERO” (FROM THE THIRD SERIES) AND “USS CALLISTER” (FOURTH SERIES), WON A TOTAL OF SIX EMMY AWARDS, WITH BOTH EPISODES WINNING OUTSTANDING TELEVISION MOVIE.
Regarding the programme’s content and structure, Charlie Brooker noted, “each episode has a different cast, a different setting, and even a different reality.”
In September 2015, Netflix commissioned a series of 12 episodes, which was later divided into two separate series, the third and fourth, each comprising six episodes.
As of 28 December 2018, 19 episodes of “Black Mirror” have been released, including one special.
There has also been a standalone film, “Bandersnatch”.
Attempting to watch the film on an unsupported platform will result in a short video message using clips from earlier episodes of “Black Mirror” informing the viewer that their platform does not currently support interactive content on Netflix.
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