I love the series Black Mirror! The directly at the beginning. The Netflix series (formerly Channel 4) draws over now four seasons a partly very dark, disturbing picture of the near future. You may know that I personally am not quite as dystopian on the road and look forward with anticipation of what technology will enable us in the future.
In the series, however, you consciously pick out the topics, in which technology can already be threatening today. If you think about it just a little further, you end up at the Black Mirror dystopias and you have to admit that you can imagine a lot of things exactly like that or at least similar.
When the rumors started to deepen of a fifth season a Black Mirror movie would appear, of course, I was completely over the moon. When it was then announced that it was supposed to be an interactive strip with various options, I was curious, but directly a little less euphoric. Here is the trailer for the first Black Mirror Event Bandersnatch:
The prerequisites were perfect for me personally: Black Mirror, a plot made in the eighties and plays the gaming industry, plus the eighties soundtrack. Even my heroes Depeche Mode are represented with “New Life”, plus the Thompson Twins, XTC, Frankie goes to Hollywood and more.
What exactly is the movie about? Can I tell you: The programmer Stefan designed in 1984 on the basis of a fantasy novel, a video game. The novel is called “Bandersnatch” and is by Jerome F. Davies. He went crazy writing and this craze was expressed, inter alia, that he cut off his wife’s head. So far, so bloody.
All so beautiful meta here
This brings us to the really interesting point of the whole bandersnatch number: the meta levels! Stefan is fascinated by the novel, which is why he also wants to try to program this actually impossible-to-implement book as a game. This should just get as many options as the template. After all, we Netflix-People sit on the couch and have all that cornucopia of options too, because many times in the movie we’re asked to choose one of two options and thus determine the way forward.
The game is completely turned off when the protagonist Stefan slowly suspects that he too is just a small cog in the bandersnatch structure and he is controlled from somewhere. What is Netflix actually?
While I was thinking before the show that one Just to make serious decisions, the fun starts right after a few minutes with the choice of cereal at breakfast. Sugar Puffs or rather Frosties? Impossible to judge where the choice in the story can lead you. By the way, you only have a few seconds left to make your decision. Depending on your choice, the fun can be over after just under three quarters of an hour or last 90 minutes net. Overall, it should be about five hours of footage. I will not say much more about the plot now. It’s just about whether Stefan gets this deal at the computer games company Tuckersoft or not. More info on the story would ruin your enjoyment of this interactive adventure, especially as there are countless ways in which history evolves. Difficult, this interactivity Do I do this or that now – the principle works so well in games. It’s also not the first time people try to do that in book or movie form. Nevertheless, the principle does not convince me completely. At one point in the story, I had the opportunity to go back to a specific starting point. Let’s say how it is: I had previously chosen the wrong option and thus directly shackled. So again from the beginning, short summary of what has happened so far, make better decisions, observe different course of action. I have been playing the game for quite a while, seeing different versions of my own story (which is not that own then) and also different ends. It takes much longer to work with Bandersnatch than with a normal movie. Sometimes you do not open completely new doors, but the actual story varies only minimally. The important thing is that you are really attentive to the film. By the way, daddling or chatting on the smartphone is not in it, because otherwise you could miss important hint or branching. All in all, this is an interesting attempt, but you do not catch me off with this interactivity. Too often, though, it tears one out of the story, so this full-in-a-story immersion does not happen here somehow. My Conclusion: Nice idea, but please do not do it again, Netflix. The theme was almost tangible on the hand that you could do it with a tried interactive gimmick. I can understand the idea absolutely and it is also indeed a nice opportunity for Netflix to present here, which is technically feasible in this regard. Unfortunately, it’s not more than a gimmick. Bandersnatch could have been an okay series, but for an “event” with an interactive touch, it all seems too thin. It is precisely this interactivity that is the real (at least intentional) star of the story and that is exactly what hurts the plot. I do not feel part of the action, do not really dive into the dystopian world, and instead wish that they would rather tell me a sensible story. I know some who are enthusiastic about Black Mirror Bandersnatch, but I’m afraid it’s not my world. I consider myself quite imaginative, so I can think up my own stories. Still, I prefer it when I’m told a story in the movie or in the book the way the author thought it was. I want to sit back and be inspired, scared, entertained. In addition, you do not make your own story through your film choices. Rather, you just work different paths. I find that tiring in the long term rather than entertaining. In this way, a lot of potential is lost for me. Again: Given this storyline, I can understand why exactly this is where an interactive approach was chosen. But Netflix and the Black Mirror makers around author Charlie Brooker. PS: Have not you seen the series yet and you’ve almost come to Black Mirror via Bandersnatch: Do not shy away from this interactive attempt on the series episodes. For the most part, they are much better off, and if you’re interested in tech dystopias, you really need to check out Black Mirror – but maybe not Bandersnatch.