Why 'Black Mirror: Bandersnatch' is not a cinematic masterpiece

When I started seeing posts all over social media about Black Mirror: Bandersnatch, I couldn't help but ask myself whether this is actually revolutionizing the art of film-making, or is it a Netflix gimmick to keep its audiences entertained.

The idea of making an interactive film is not new to Netflix. They have been using it on several children's shows on the platform and had started talks with the producers of Black Mirror about making an interactive film in 2017. After much speculation, the film was finally released on December 28, 2018.

Set in the year 1984 in England, the movie follows a young programmer named Stefan Butler, who sets out to design a game based on a fantasy novel named Bandersnatch for a company called Tuckersoft. While working on perfecting the game, Butler tumbles into paranoia and psychosis which strains his relationship with his father and he begins to question his reality.

As you begin your journey into the life of Stefan, you come across choices you have to make for him. These lead to a series of consequences that eventually produce a variety of endings depending on the path you take. There are a total of five different endings, each varying in length of viewing time.

The film takes inspiration from Lewis Carroll's depiction of the creature bandersnatch, and also from a 1984 game under the same name that was unreleased as the company went bankrupt. It is also littered with references to previous episodes of Black Mirror, much like some of the episodes of the show itself.

While the production quality was excellent, the film was very poorly edited. The abrupt scene transitions, which I assume was made to depict the volatility of Stefan's mind, failed to be coherent. It looked as if the director shot hundreds of different scenes and pieced it all together through permutations to provide for the various endings through unique pathways.

The arbitrary nature of storytelling also made it difficult to form connections with the characters. This is a shame because actors like Fionn Whitehead, from the Oscar-winning film Dunkirk and BAFTA award-winning actor Will Poulter did their best at playing their respective roles.

The subject matter of the film dabbled in a meaningful exploration of existentialism, but it was far more focused on giving the audience an interactive experience rather than a well-planned out film, through cinematic experimentation.

Overall, the film did not deliver to my expectations of a mind-bending story that will leave me unsettled and doubtful about the modern world. But if you're simply interested in a unique experience, Black Mirror: Bandersnatch could be worth a watch.


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