Over the Christmas Period, my husband and I managed to find time to sit and watch a few movies that I’d saved to ‘My-list’, on Netflix. Including Tomb Raider, which as a fan of the games, I enjoyed and also Bird Box. A really good film, which has inspired me to want to read the book, as is often the way.
I can be a bit slow on dscovering modern novels, and I often watch films first, which is sometimes a good way to go, I think. As often if I read a book and then watch the film, I find myself disappointed and then tell my husband in my ‘know all’ voice that the book’s much better and what happened was…whilst he stares blankly back.
(Note to all: My husbands isn’t much of a reader, due mainly to a shortage of time and let’s be honest he’d rather watch the footy highlights than read. He has an old John Grisham book in his drawer that he must have started about three times and never finished.)
So, after dinner on a saturday night, before New Year, we scoured my ‘to-watch-list’ and decided to watch the new Black Mirror movie ‘Bandersnatch.’ Or should I say more played.
The story is set in the U.K in the 80’s and is about a young man, who wants to create a computer game based on the book ‘Bandersnatch’. The book allows the reader to ‘Choose their own adventure’ as they read, whether that be on to the rest of the story or to an uncertain death. Which is how the M.C wants to create the game to and how we the viewer find ourselves involved in the story by interacting, and choosing how the film plays out.
I decided to let my husband make the choices, which start simply. Like what to have for breakfast and which tape to listen to on the M.C’s walkman. After that the decisions became more plot related and took us on very different paths.
One particular choice made was when the M.C is offered to try some new drug and we opted for ‘no’ and the drug gets slipped into his tea. I found that interesting as we didn’t want him to take the drug from a moral perspective and due to the fact it probably would only lead to something bad, as it did. But then if he didn’t take the drug would there be a story at all? For some reason even though the story was just a story, we’d become involved in such a way as that we cared what happened to the character and didn’t want him to make the wrong choice, even if it meant ruining the rest of the story for us to watch. A bit like if you had the choice of letting the lonely woman on the side of the road enter the car of the obvious serial killer or instead could have had her say no and walk on to nearby brightly lit lights of the city.
The story has multiple endings and we probably chose the stupidest. The M.C becomes convinced that he isn’t in control of his own fate and that he’s being ‘watched’. The choice we have is by who, and we chose Netflix. We then also decided to try and explain what Netflix is to the M.C, which results in him needing to go and see his Doctor.
I think the movie decides to turn the fun back on us here, as the doctor declares that if they were really being ‘controlled’ by this ‘streaming program’ from the future, wouldn’t we choose to see something a bit more action pack then him visiting his shrink, and they break into a silly fight which ends the story. I’ll admit I did feel silly choosing that option, but then, maybe if I’d had more ‘choice’ I would have decided to explain more about the future and given him the lottery results??
Some of the other endings lead to him killing his father with him being incarcerated after burying him unsuccessfully in the garden. Reviews I read after watching the program pointed out that in reality, despite the choices we had in the story, perhaps we were also being controlled and that ,we, like the story didn’t have a choice in the outcome of the film. Perhaps I didn’t see every ending, but I didn’t find a happy one for sure.
I hope I haven’t ruined the story for anyone who wants to give it a go and I feel that the Black Mirror team have again come up with an eerie, dark story that makes you think and I enjoyed the experience. But, I don’t feel that, for me at least, interactive tv is something I’d want to conquer the world. I actually felt quite stressed and tense playing the movie, and I prefer to sit back, relax and let the movie take me where it wants to go.
I think perhaps the idea of ‘choosing your own adventure’ should be left to the gaming world. Two of my favourite games have been ‘Heavy rain’ and ‘Beyond: two souls’. Both of which give you different choices in which way you want to play the game and how it’ll end. For me interactive t.v was good to try, but not necessarily repeatable.