Black Mirror’s Bandersnatch – reaction to Charlie Brooker’s interactive film

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Bandersnatch

Black Mirror’s Bandersnatch caught the imagination of Netflix audiences and social media alike over Chistmas, but Getintothis’ Lewis Ridley has a different take.

Black Mirror, the Charlie Brooker creation that has proven so popular on Netflix over the past few years, veered off somewhat to an interactive episode released last week.

Bandersnatch sees the viewer take partial control over the storyline, by way of two answer questions during supposedly key moments of the narrative.

It has taken social media by storm, and for the first half hour the interactive film is fascinating. A choice between cereals and music, in an ordinary English city in 1984, turns to bleaker and more difficult decisions as protagonist Stefan Butler (Fionn Whitehead) aims to release his video game, based on the same choice concept the viewer faces.

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But the viewing experience becomes frustratingly cyclical, and the idea that there are endless narratives is soon quelled. In fact, the ‘wrong’ choice sends viewers back from whence they came, until they return to one of the 10 plots, leaving the multi layered concept entirely porous and this viewer bemused.

This is the first major interactive fiction, popular in the 1980s with turn to page books, to be attempted on Netflix. It’s set during that time, too, and as the protagonist makes his way through 1984, Thompson Twins and all.

It’s true that it has caught the attention of social media, Black Mirror is one of the platform’s most popular programmes, and its no surprise there’s been lots of reaction.

While one great scene with video game maverick Colin Ritman (Will Poulter) explores social theory, government control and alternate universes, Bandersnatch is far less gripping than it should be. Even more so after it was learned that its production supposedly delayed Black Mirror‘s fifth series.

Perhaps it will spark a new hunger for choose-your-own-destiny video games. It would be bingo for Netflix, any follow up would certainly hope to eclipse what is a disappointing end product.

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