For months Netflix’s web series Black Mirror has been preparing us for a post apocalyptic world where technology takes over human dynamics. But what it did not prepare us for was Bandersnatch. The streaming website, notoriously dropped the feature film without a single warning or notification.
The “interactive” film, takes one back down the memory lane of “build your own adventure” books from the 90s, where the reader could chose the ending they wanted to read. Similarly, you control Bandersnatch and it’s 19-year-old protagonist, Stefan. The quiet, introvert Stefan wants to programme video games, with his dream project being Bandersnatch — based on “crazy” writer Jerome F. Davies’ book. The hyper-active, typical business tycoon, Mohan Thakur gives him that one golden opportunity and the legendary Colin Rhitman mentors young Stefan. But does Bandersnatch get made? That depends on how the viewer takes the story forward.
Best watched on your cell phone or hand-held device, Bandersnatch requires the viewers’ instructions by tapping on the two options present on screen. Even if it receives no instruction, the series makes multiple decisions for you, and brings you to about 10 to 12 different, very vague endings. Now this will either leave you asking for more or extremely confused. While director David Slade picked a brilliant story-telling medium, with even more brilliant actors to play the layered characters, what he definitely missed out on was the storyline. However, the story-telling medium is absolute genius. The film, unlike its web series, dabbles in a technological concept of the past that has been tailored to satiate the obsession of consuming technological advances.
Bandersnatch will definitely suck you into this horrifying never-ending feeling of being trapped in the video game that you are supposed to be playing, though after an hour or so, it becomes a drag. A game is all that is left of the film, and alternate realities in the storyline become difficult to connect to. Bandersnatch also touches upon a couple of important, albeit dated, political issues in true Black Mirror style — ranging from how the government controls and harvests our data to mental health.
The excitement of the “interaction” format between the viewer and the film, will get you as far as two very vague alternate endings. But unless you are a Black Mirror superfan, trying to break down all the fan theories, you will mostly opt out with the “skip to end credits” tab that appears in the middle of the film.
Bandersnatch is definitely a one-time watch to honour the evolution of film-making, but if it is an engaging storyline you are looking for, on a Saturday evening’s movie-marathon... it can certainly be given a miss.