Bandersnatch stands for a book that allows you to choose your own adventure while you read. Written by Jerome F. Davis, an author that gradually descended to madness while was writing it, and a videogame based on it. That is just the tip of the iceberg for the homonymous movie, part of the famous Black Mirror Netflix series. In the movie, the viewer has to participate actively by affecting the developing story of Stefan Butler (Fionn Whitehead), a young boy who is trying to make a new videogame. Throughout the movie we will enjoy a walk alongside Stefan while we either remember or learn how things were during the 1980’s, giving the film a nostalgic atmosphere to ones and an interesting look at the past to others.
The performances of the actors are great, the movie is detailed and carefully drawn, the locations create the perfect atmosphere, the shots are clean, the soundtrack is what we would expect from Black Mirror, and if you are a fan, you will enjoy finding many Easter eggs. Other great characteristic is the time-playing you can experience while watching the film, since it can be twisted or altered, making the plot something plastic and dynamic instead of static.
Therefore, giving the opportunity of playing a role in the story by having an influence on the decisions that Stefan will make throughout the whole movie.
Adding to this the possibility of seeing our main character doubting whether there is an invisible hand changing his destiny and the way how he does things or not, giving us not the sensation that we are masters of the universe of Bandersnatch but an intrusive force in an existing reality.
Consequently, the movie is not something as simple as just a matrix where the audience make decisions on the screen about what the protagonist should do next and then automatically having the desired action executed as if we were the puppet master who controls every single action involving Stefan, thus, having a completely predictable sequence of events.
Instead, we will find ourselves as strange second entity inside the movie, gaining interest on the subsequent actions as we see the main character adapting and even resisting the commands we send to him.
Audience will become an uncomfortable intruder for the characters of the movie as our will can change how things develop, but facing the strange awareness of the Bandersnatch environment by feeling that something is out of place, as if an invisible hand or voice tried to pull certain strings or whisper undesired commands.
Once we started our journey, we realize that there is no such thing as a no decision or no intervention from the audience, even the inactivity means a decision made. When you retrospectively analyze Bandersnatch, you feel not only as if you watched a movie but a universe inside a box who is moving independently from you but affected by your decisions.
One natural setback of Bandersnatch is the own limit of the story, more than been an open universe of possibilities it is a maze were different paths will lead to different doors and desired or undesired, expected or unexpected new places where new elections have to be made.
On one side it is a box of uncertainty of what is occurring next and on the other is precisely, a sandbox where we can only play with the toys the makers put for us to play with.
Thus, the story is limited (or not) to the protagonist and his objective and therefore the movie has to conclude (many times) when Stefan reaches his objective (or not). For this reason, for some people the ending they get could not be as exciting or overwhelming as to others, depending on the elected choices. Bandersnatch then becomes a movie that in order to be fully appreciated and understood in its beauty needs to be unraveled, rewound and walked differently and freely each new time.
However, this may result tiring, and sometimes even disappointing for many, especially if having completely different result from every new election, which was not taken in the past instead of just a nuanced one, is the expectation.
Hence, making the audience wander which are the limits of the Bandersnatch movie maze.
For me it was a great journey when I went through the movie, but I give you a piece of useful advice: be prepared for the unexpected, watch it calmly and with an open mind otherwise you might not enjoy it. If you have an adventurous spirit and desires for unraveling the secrets of a plot that allows you to define the movie you are watching instead of expecting a complete moving masterpiece regardless of the possible choices you make then Bandersnatch is definitely for you.
Written by: Clinton Nateras Tello