By Bella Zafer
Have you ever watched a movie and wished you could control the plot?
“Black Mirror” has been known for pushing the boundaries and expanding the minds of its fans with stunning episodes, but recently the creators have released something particularly out of the ordinary. Netflix came out on December 28 with their interactive film "Bandersnatch," marketed as the “Black Mirror” movie, and many people have mixed feelings about it. “Bandersnatch” follows the story of a young video-game creator in 1984 and the process he goes through in creating a "choose your own adventure" game. The film mirrors this idea by giving the viewer choices that impact the plot throughout the movie.
Many people disliked this new format for movie-watching, believing that it is not the job of the viewer to impact the plot. Further, the choices can make the film confusing, seeing as though many times the viewer is brought back to the last choice and forced to choose the other option. Audiences want to be entertained and feel as if they are being taken through a storyline, completely removed from the plot. Arabella McGowan even admitted, “I was kind of confused the entire time.” For all that we know, when it comes to “Black Mirror,” this could have been the creators’ intention.
Others may enjoy the interactive aspect of this film, considering the whole idea revolutionary. However, regardless of one's personal cinematic preference, the message the “Bandersnatch” creators intended to convey is indeed communicated. Basically, the movie makes it apparent that there are actually correct choices because you are taken back to the options if you choose the "wrong" choice. This reveals the message that is being relayed to the main character, Stefan, that there is no such thing as true free will. (Spoiler alert) During one of the possible endings, Stefan says, “I realized I just had to give the player the illusion of free choice. I decide how the story ends.” We can see this same idea in subliminal messages, social media, and preemptive advertising in our world today.
Karsen Springfield (12) said, “Overall, the movie forced me to question the way I think just like the ‘Black Mirror’ episodes, which is definitely an accomplishment on their part.”
One must concede that the “Black Mirror” creators once again technically accomplished their mission to exemplify today's society using extreme thematic realities. However, perhaps the quality of the plot itself was pushed aside to a certain extent, the interactive component distracting the viewers. Many people, including Langston Myers, found the plot itself to be boring and the characters uninteresting.
Myers (12) said, “They were just continuously stating this fact that fate controls you and not backing it up. I was not convinced like I normally am in “Black Mirror” episodes.”
(Spoiler alert) At one point in the film, Stefan receives a message from a mysterious futuristic concept called “Netflix” before he finds himself in a production studio very confused (not unlike the viewers) because he is in a film. Even creator Charlie Brooker admitted he was embarrassed while pitching the idea to Netflix, and in my opinion he should have trusted his instincts. While humorous because of the ridiculousness of it all, this small bit of the movie exemplifies how out of hand the plot gets at times. In some ways, the movie’s partial failures demonstrate the message of the movie itself. Maybe people should not or can not be in control of their own adventures after all.
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