The Beginning of Interactive Movies
(Writers: Doug Quimby/ Deanna Bushey)
Technology is advancing rapidly, and none of us know what is truly possible. Recently, Netflix released a Black Mirror film, Bandersnatch, which has gotten a lot of attention. What drew people to it was not only because it’s a Black Mirror movie, this is a Netflix Interactive Film. Suddenly, everyone was talking about it, or being told to watch. Between the level of genius it took to program the movie to be altered to reflect choices made by the viewer, the creativity of the using this film as Netflix’s first big interactive film, and the message this movie carries, Bandersnatch has made an immense impact.
The story is about a young man, Stefan Butler, trying to make a video game. Based on a book found in his late mother’s belongings, Bandersnatch, the video game allows the player to make decisions for the character. Throughout the movie, Stefan breaks the fourth wall and begins to slowly realize that he’s not in control of his actions. From small decisions like what to eat, to huge ones like deciding whether or not to work at the video game office, decisions will impact the likelihood of Stefan finishing the video game. However, you will be offered opportunities to go back and try certain actions until you have exhausted all possible outcomes. As the character begins to realize what is happening, so do you as the viewer. The release of Bandersnatch introduced not only a new format for watching movies but also a terrifying message. If it can happen to Stefan, could it be happening to us? The storyline was crucial in making this thought prominent as we enter an era of groundbreaking technology.
The root of the hype surrounding Bandersnatch is that it’s a different kind of movie. It’s fun and keeps you paying attention to it. Meanwhile, you’re starting to see the bigger picture and put pieces together. Bandersnatch captures you, you fall down “The Hole”. You want to see all the endings, the dead ends, and put the puzzle pieces together. It makes it more than a movie, it becomes an experience. The creators of the popular Netflix series, Black Mirror, make the viewers really think about life in a different way and it’s no different for Bandersnatch. Their concept reached a new level as an interactive film took their usual concept and presented it as reality. You experience the phenomenon as you watch it happen to Stefan. Technology is at a point where it can be used to do exactly what was shown in the movie and it is amazing how the creators of Bandersnatch showcased that truth.
As technology reaches shocking new levels, it isn’t a surprise that we can interact with a movie. It is the new thing, soon it will be accepted as normal. Thankfully, Bandersnatch has set a high bar for other films to reach. Luckily, it shows us that the possibility of seeing more films like it is increasingly high. With the advancements made in Virtual Reality as well as in video game quality in general, it is only a matter of time before we see widespread use of interactive VR games that could feel like living in another world. Bandersnatch is huge for making the public recognize the capabilities of our technology. At the rate we are advancing, who knows where we will be and what we will know twenty years from now?
Bandersnatch is a turning point for entertainment. It was well written to suit the platform on which it was presented, with both being groundbreaking concepts, it will be interesting to see what else is to come, and if we are ready for it. In the meantime, there are several ways to reach Bandersnatch’s many endings to keep everyone occupied.