Black Mirror Bandersnatch Review: A conceptual interactive game made to look like an interactive film. Works great if not watched on Netflix.
An interactive film/TV show might sound like a new attempt for people who don’t play a lot of video games but for me it is nothing more than a game with live action scenes replacing the animated ones. In these interactive games/films/TV Shows there is always an illusionary choice given to the audience to choose one of the options presented on the screen and the story proceeds basing on your decisions leading to different endings. This makes the viewer feel like he/she is in control but eventually we just follow one of the many paths already decided by the makers.
I’m writing this after watching the film twice – once online, on Netflix in an interactive way and once offline, on my computer in a normal way. Why did I watch twice? Because I wanted to see how good the interactive choices were and that is how the makers wanted us to see their creation. And the second time out of extreme curiosity to see what exactly happens when an interactive film is ripped from the web and uploaded to torrents.
What is Bandersnatch all about?
The plot of Bandersnatch is very intriguing. It revolves around the longstanding questions many of us face- Are we in control of our life? Do we really have control over the decisions we make? Or is there someone above controlling us and making the decisions for us?
The hypothetical answers to these questions could range anywhere between philosophy to impractical theory. Whatever the answer may be there is no proof supporting either side of the arguments. We could be beings of absolute freewill or beings under illusion of freewill, either ways these questions make the plot very intense and intriguing and all it takes is a perfect narration to wow the viewer.
To make the viewers more engaged than just passing through the scenes, Netflix has chosen interactive narration to give you illusionary control of the choices made by the lead character and thus keeping you consciously engaged. But the choices you think you are making are actually choices someone has already made for you and you are actually just pressing buttons to go through a predefined path. Sounds intriguing, confusing and mind boggling eh? That is what the lead character exactly feel like.
So, now to the actual question many like me might be facing – which version should I watch? The interactive version on Netflix or the non-interactive version on torrents?
Netflix’s Interactive Version:
A must watch version for the experimental narrative and the unique experience. But it has its own problems, every choice you make leads to an ending and you have to go back to a branch of choices to get to know the alternate ending which might make the whole experience tiresome. And the whole concept of the screen pausing whenever you have to make a decision is pretty frustrating as the experience isn’t seamless. I felt like I am neither watching a show nor playing a game, thus spoiling my experience of the show.
This version is just insane and the only version I would suggest anybody to watch. All the possible choices and endings shot by the makers are laid flat on a linear scale in a non-linear screenplay. This version makes you interact more with your mind than your hands. You are forced to make sense of what decision led to what and analyzing the scenes happening on the screen. Though the makers didn’t want this version, for me this is the best way to experience Bandersnatch. Watching this version makes you feel like you are watching a masterpiece while the Netflix version is frustrating.
On the whole Bandersnatch seems a little bland when watched on Netflix but it is suddenly lit on fire in the non-interactive version. Whatever version you choose you will be definitely entertained but my strong suggestion is to not watch it on Netflix.
This is all I have for now about Bandersnatch, Stay tuned here for info on “Black Mirror Anthology”.