Netflix releases special feature of Black Mirror: ‘Bandersnatch’

William Sikich

While Netflix occasionally releases  fluff-filled feel-good films such as ‘The Holiday Calendar’ and ‘A Christmas Prince,’ however, one of their most entertaining and successful productions is the dark anthology series, Black Mirror.

On December 28, 2018, Netflix placed a feature-length cap on the show by releasing their original film, ‘Bandersnatch,’ which I can confidently say has become one of my all-time favorite Black Mirror stories.

Following the theme of the show as a whole, ‘Bandersnatch’ tells – and even lets you control – the story of a young programmer named Stefan who learns that his world might not be all he thinks it is.

That’s right, ‘Bandersnatch’ is a choose-your-own-adventure live action film, and watching it is exactly as entertaining as it sounds. From simple, relatively insignificant decisions to intense, life and death deliberations, the viewer must choose Stefan’s actions and guide him on his journey of discovery about his tragic life.

I had a blast making an impressive number of decisions, most of which with a profound impact on the story. In terms of plot, the twists, revelations, and ending that I got were some of the best I’ve seen out of Black Mirror yet, though I suppose I can’t speak for everyone’s experience.

After all, the movie does change entirely depending on the decisions made by the viewer. Still, my version of “Bandersnatch” certainly did not fail to deliver the doomed, sci-fi atmosphere that so enraptured me about the original series.

In addition to the stories and worlds for which Black Mirror is famous, another aspect of the show that always captures my attention is its musical score. The song choice always adds a lot to the events happening on-screen.

The music completes the stories, in a way. I feel as though the creators of Black Mirror seem to have a keen sense of exactly which song will bring forth what emotion in a scene, and they really have a way of turning a typical audio/visual display into a true experience of the soul. Not an exception to the trend, ‘Bandersnatch’ features some really enriching song choices. One song in particular, “O Superman,” by Laurie Anderson, stuck with me emotionally as the music to which I watched the film’s final moments of beautiful sorrow.

I’ve discovered a lot of my favorite songs just by looking up the music I liked on the show, making Black Mirror a powerful cultural influence for me.

I understand that ‘Bandersnatch’ might not be everybody’s idea of a good time, but that is largely true of Black Mirror in general. What’s potentially more unappealing to some is that ‘Bandersnatch’ contains the additional aspect of choice.

However, the viewer’s power to choose does not rob him/her of the mystery of the storyline. Rather, ‘Bandersnatch’ operates more like a really high budget video game.

The viewer’s emotions and thoughts become aligned with those of the protagonist, giving him/her the sense of controlling his/her own Black Mirror experience, much like an avatar in any good video game.

So, if you’re a fan of Black Mirror, dark anthologies, sci-fi, or even story-driven video games, you really should give ‘Bandersnatch’ a run-through.