Netflix always wants to be special and first. At the time, when HBO finally shows the final season of Game of Thrones, when Amedia finishes showing the historic Vikings series, and Marvel will show Avengers: Endgame, Netflix in advance released its interactive BANDERSNATCH in the concept of the Black Mirror series. The film is interesting primarily because it is an interactive film - we all who watch it make decisions for the main hero.
The special show of the famous social series proposes the viewer to decide how events will develop in the life of the young programmer Stefan. Watching a movie without Netflix means losing the essence of the release.
I was mad, shook, excited, disappointed, yet fulfilled at the same damn time while watching Bandersnatch.
Every day we have to make a choice, even many times: what to eat for breakfast, how to get to work or go to guests, what film to watch in the evening, etc., etc. In fact, we seldom attach importance to this, and if we have made an unfortunate choice, then we calm ourselves with the thought that these are little things in life and what has been done is done. So, Netflix presented a film on the topic what would have happened if?
I watched this film with an interactive choice for the first time. Before that, I had read one fantastic book about a few years ago with variations for the main character. The Black Mirror retained its spirit of rebellion against modern technology, showed how everything can be.
IMDb added BLACK MIRROR: BANDERSNATCH to its list of 50 best movies of 2018.
BLACK MIRROR: BANDERSNATCH, official trailer - Video credit: youtube.com
The Short Story Of The Movie
The very story of BANDERSNATCH in one form or another is still in the style of a black mirror, depressing, utopian, and gloomy.
A young talent with the name Stefan in the distant 1984 wants to make an adaptation of the thick fantasy novel Bandersnatch in a computer game. According to the main character, the game should be a real breakthrough in the field of computer entertainment. He goes to bed for the sleep with this book and with this book he gets up, and we can say he is into his work for one hundred percent.
In the future, he expects the edition of this game, and the glory is just around the corner. Or it may be a complete failure. Or something else. Whether the young man succeeds in realizing his dream and not depends on the choice that the viewer makes? In a word, the choice of a dry breakfast, a cassette in a player, a neighbor's dog and, in general, everything, everything, everything can affect the result and the very life of Stefan. Watch yourself, and you will see.
Netflix film BLACK MIRROR: BANDERSNATCH - Photo credit: imdb.com
The Content Of The Movie
The trick is that the fully interactive version of the movie Netflix offers to look through an account on your website when you influence the choice of the main character. And this linear version of the events' development is available in a duration of ninety-five minutes and in five hours long. This review is about the short version.
Thanks to Netflix’s interactive technology, Stefan’s fate is in your hands, so you’ll want to keep your hands near your mouse or trackpad at all times. Each decision has to be made in seconds, and those decisions could mean the difference between life or death for those on-screen.
In general, I liked the film because I like the theme of choice in the cinema itself. I will not discuss how harmful or useful it is to allow the very possibility of such a choice, but it is always interesting to watch such films. In this film, such key moments are proposed, after which, depending on the choice, the events' development is somewhat different, if not entirely fantastic.
Of course, it is impossible to take into account how each passing car will affect your mood and costume when it rains, and you walk along the fence on a narrow sidewalk. Even Netflix cannot do this, but it was extremely interesting to watch.
Interactive film BLACK MIRROR: BANDERSNATCH - Photo credit: blog.public.gr
In order to fully understand the concept of the film, you definitely need to watch it on the Netflix platform. There, the viewer from time to time is given 10 seconds to choose between two options. If you miss choosing, the decision is made by default. And what happens on the screen will depend on the accepted choice.
Decisions can be insignificant, such as, which cereal to eat for breakfast or which cassette to include during a trip on the bus, and can be serious when the choice made leads to irreversible consequences. What will happens depends on your choice, but there is always an opportunity to replay.
In the film sounds very entertaining idea that your choice does not affect anything. That at the same time there are several parallel realities. When in one you make some decision, in the other you make the opposite choice. In the end, nothing matters.
Sci-Fi drama BLACK MIRROR: BANDERSNATCH - Photo credit: tanhispano.com
And how gracefully it is shown! Besides the fact that the viewer himself is watching an interactive movie with a choice, the main character writes a game where you need to make decisions, and according to the book, which is built on different endings! Nowhere is there just one possible finale.
The development of the film will be unpredictable. For example, I was delighted when the fourth wall was suddenly broken. This allowed us to develop the story in a completely different way.
There are some brutal moments, breaking the brain and psyche. Events of the picture develop in several parallel realities, and time does not always go in the usual sequence. In fact, we watched the same time period with different scenarios. There was no such development.
The main issues that the authors put forward for reflection of the audience:
- Many destinies and potential realities, and we cannot control our fate.
- We exist simultaneously in several parallel realities.
- Free will is limited, which means it is useless. Our fate is decided for us; it is not in our hands (to influence the outcome of events).
BLACK MIRROR: BANDERSNATCH review - Photo credit: blog.naver.com
Generally, I welcome the very concept of interactive cinema: it seemed to take the interaction with the film to a new level. But the implementation of this concept in the case of BANDERSNATCH raises questions. So, in my opinion, the creators clearly over created the plot, especiallstefeny those branches that unfolded as if in a dream of the main character, but at the same time further directly influenced the plot - in some moments you simply lose understanding of what is happening on the screen in reality, and what is happening only in the imagination of the hero. You start thinking as if you do not go mad, trying to understand all these intricacies.
The Personages Of The Movie
The main character is a teenager. He creates a computer game, which he called BANDERSNATCH. And I would say that his mental problems already begin with the name of this game because adequate people are unlikely to call the game that way. Since in those days computer games were only born and looked very primitive, the main thing in this game is to make a choice on different parts of the hero's passage through the mazes.
BLACK MIRROR: BANDERSNATCH review - Photo credit: imdb.com
Every day, he is more and more immersed in the programming process and is no longer able to stop. He constantly rewrites various choices, and in the end, it is reflected in his already weak mind.
I think that many people know that such fanatical computer scientists, in general, are people not from this world. And in this case, Stefan also has personal psychological trauma.
The story of Stefan is not about how to achieve success and recognition through programming. He is a complex, deeply injured character who in childhood experienced a terrible tragedy. And the most important work in life brings the main character to a nervous breakdown and paranoia. The final will be different, but it is difficult to call at least one of them happy.
Since this film is made in the fantasy genre, our hero constantly moves in time. But the primitiveness, in my opinion, of this film, is that, despite these movements, the same events happen all the time with a teenager. That is, the film's action is repeated, repeated over and over.
50 best movies of 2018, BLACK MIRROR: BANDERSNATCH - Photo credit: imdb.com
The Technical Side Of The Movie
There is not much to say about camera work, soundtrack, editing, and other technical aspects either - even if they are made at a high level, the viewer still cannot fully appreciate this, being fully involved in the development of an interactive storyline.
The film does not accidentally have a connection with the TV series Black Mirror, it has exactly the same gloomy atmosphere of despair.
Sci-Fi drama BLACK MIRROR: BANDERSNATCH - Photo credit: famousfix.com
In the first part of the film, there is not much such as entertainment. The whole charm begins in the second half after the hero takes the capsules and the reality becomes a game, and only he knows if he can cope with it or not. What the fascinating scene when Stefan finds the power to go through the mirror, everything looked so natural, so cinematographic that we all watching the film kept a deathly silence, only surprised sighs were heard.
As for the musical accompaniment, there are no questions for it because everything sounds harmonious, atmospheric, and memorable. I especially remember the soundtrack that sounded during the final credits, and it easily got into the playlist of atmospheric movie singles.
10 Hidden Secrets You Missed In BLACK MIRROR: BANDERSNATCH - Video credit: youtube.com
The Collective Work Of The Actors
The cast is not known to me since I have little knowledge of interactive films, especially British. But this did not prevent them from surprising me as a spectator with their acting.
In particular, I want to mention the main character, whose role was played by Finn Whitehead. From the first appearance in the frame, you believe him: in his emotions, in feelings, in experiences, in fears, and of course in words and actions, and this is worth a lot.
Another possessed geek is played by Will Poulter, who is already familiar to me (The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader).
Supporting characters were also on the high level, but they all somehow lost to Finn in charisma; Finn draws all the attention to himself.
Finn Whitehead in Netflix film BLACK MIRROR: BANDERSNATCH - Photo credit: twitter.com
On The Final Note
In general, I really liked the idea of the film. It is interesting to observe the different development of the plot, and it’s doubly interesting to influence it yourself. However, all this makes the film more of a game-entertainment, rather than a solid piece of art. Because of this, my impressions are mixed.
The film leaves a rather strange aftertaste. Painful and sad. If you want to see something eternal, kind, bright - just pass it. If you want to plunge into dark thoughts about the nature of human life - you are welcome.
Those who have an account on Netflix - be sure to take a look at this movie and join the game that the company offers to viewers.
Most of all, I liked the idea of the project itself and how the protagonist finally acts in its own way, ignoring the audience choice. Thus, the creators ironize over the media, creating the illusion of choice for the viewer, but actually keeping them within the dictated format.
The ideology of the film is such that someone controls us all the time, that in fact neither the film characters nor we have any choice. There is always some puppeteer who is controlled by another puppeteer, etc.
Movie Review: BLACK MIRROR: BANDERSNATCH - Photo credit: twitter.com
I recommend the movie. And what version for viewing you prefer - choose for yourself. I hope you will get a lot of emotions in various aspects and a pleasant aftertaste after watching, so it makes you think about many things.
The illusion of control — on screen and in life — is the big issue underlying this deliciously meta interactive experience.
My rating: 6.5/10
Rotten Tomatoes: 71/100
Critics average: 6.7/100
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