Bandersnatch

This article was originally published on the front page of the March, 2019 edition of the East Brunswick High School newspaper “The Clarion”.

By Ian Clark

After nearly a year long hiatus, the popular British anthology sci-fi series Black Mirror has returned with an experience that is very different than previous seasons. Instead of a typical ‘anthology’ season containing several stand alone episodes, this time viewers were greeted to a movie called Bandersnatch. In typical Black Mirror fashion, they re-think the movie watching experience by making it an interactive movie, similar to a Choose Your Own Adventure (CYOA) video game.  As the story progresses, the viewer can make choices about which path the story takes, which in turn alters the overall story. Bandersnatch arrived on Netflix mostly as a surprise, as it was officially announced on December 27, 2018 with a trailer and was then released the following day.

Bandersnatch takes place in 1984, where we follow a video game programmer, Stefan, as he tries to adapt a choose your own adventure book titled “Bandersnatch” into a computer game.  Along the way, he encounters challenges that warp perception and reality. Throughout the film, a compelling and vast story unfolds that maintains the same dark Black Mirror charm along with subtle and obvious “easter eggs” referencing previous episodes.

Black Mirror fans are spread all around the country and the world, with several found here at EBHS. Sophomore Jordan Baker said that “as a huge fan of Black Mirror, this episode definitely didn’t disappoint. It was incredible how the littlest of choices affected the entire plot. I get that the … “I’m from Netflix” or … the action-like scenes were meant to be funny, but it took away … from the whole experience. The CYOA format was great, I really hope to see more like it.” When Jordan refers to the “I’m From Netflix” element, she is making reference to certain options where the viewer can break the fourth wall and actually tell the character Stefan that he’s being watched and controlled by the viewer through Netflix.  This results in scenes that have a campy or non serious tone to them, since many fourth wall breaks are usually used as a comedic gag. EBHS sophomore Hailey Schaffer explained that “Bandersnatch was an experience unlike any other on Netflix, and it was something that I thoroughly enjoyed. Making choices for the characters … made for a thrilling movie that will hopefully spark other young writers and filmmakers to make their own Choose Your Own Adventure stories. Although some of the choices were unsatisfactory and led the characters to imminent doom, it takes the viewer multiple tries to get the ‘good ending’. I will definitely be on the lookout for more CYOA films … on Netflix, and I am happy to be back in the tumultuous universe of Black Mirror.”  Fans here at EBHS and around the world are happy to be back in the universe of Black Mirror and are already looking forward to the next season, rumored to come out sometime this year.