Will Bandersnatch snatch your attention?

How the new Netflix film bends the definition of “film”


The Black Mirror logo for all episodes

Kelly Cookie and Maggie Chi

Recently, Netflix has come out with a revolutionary new movie, Bandersnatch. It is different from many other shows and movies on the platform. Bandersnatch’s uniqueness comes from the ability for viewers to make choices in the film to alter the plot. It is interactive, similar to video games with a storyline. This attracts viewers of all ages and demographics. On Twitter, it has become an extremely popular discussion topic, with users making memes from the movie.

The creator, Charlie Brooker, who is also the creator of Black Mirror, comments on the making of the film, “One of the things they sort of wanted us to do was test the limits of what they could do because it’s a good experimental test case.” He explains, “Quite often we’d say, ‘Is this possible?’ They’d never say no. They’d say, ‘Maybe, let’s try and find out.’ Nine times out of 10, they would then work out a way in which it could happen.” Although there is lots of criticism surrounding the film, it was clearly a difficult project for both the creator and the cast.

Fionn Whitehead, the film’s main character, confessed that it got confusing. “I’ve never been good at Rubik’s Cube, but it felt like the filming version of a Rubik’s Cube,” he says. Navigating which pathway was being filmed and where they currently were in the series events proved difficult, but was ultimately worthwhile.

The life of Stefan, who is trying to create a choose your own adventure game for a huge tech company, becomes the life of every viewer. The decisions range from insignificant cereal choices to tough choices, including murder. The spiral the show demonstrates was interesting to viewers, one being senior, Taylor Campbell. She commented on her viewing experience saying, “it was an interesting movie and it was totally different than anything I’ve seen.” Some viewers even speculated that the movie was not what it seemed to be, describing it to be more like a video game. As people played it over and over again, attempting to play all of the endings or to “win,” this comparison seemed to apply better than ever. Another point of interest within the film is the illusion of choice. At certain points, choices are being made, but they don’t really matter at all. For example, in one of the pathways, the viewer is given the choice to flush their pills or throw them away. A dilemma that leads to the same result no matter which path is taken by the viewer. This instance is not the only one in the film, there are multiple other places in the film that present the same illusion.

Overall the film is undoubtedly a hit, whether people like the actual plot or not. The concept is different and exciting to viewers. Some people watched it to simply make choices, while others just wanted to test out the new technology. This combination of a live action movie and a video game is definitely the doorway to some other different and advancing features, especially in the hands of Black Mirror.