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Black Mirror: Bandersnatch is a 2018 interactive film in the science fiction anthology series Black Mirror. It was written by series creator Charlie Brooker and directed by David Slade. Netflix released it on 28 December 2018 as a standalone film.
In England in July 1984, young programmer Stefan Butler (Fionn Whitehead) dreams of adapting a “choose your own adventure” book called Bandersnatch by tragic writer Jerome F. Davies (Jeff Minter) into what he hopes will be a revolutionary adventure video game. The game involves traversing a graphical maze of corridors while avoiding a creature called the Pax, and at times making choices by an on-screen instruction. Butler produces the game for video game company Tuckersoft, which is run by Mohan Thakur (Asim Chaudhry) and employs the famous game creator Colin Ritman (Will Poulter). Butler is given the choice of accepting or rejecting help from the company in developing the game. If Butler accepts the offer, Ritman says he chose the “wrong path” and Butler lives the day again, being given the same choice.
Otherwise, Butler begins to work on the game on his own, given a September deadline by Thakur so Tuckersoft can publish it for Christmas sales. Fighting through the game’s software bugs, Butler gets increasingly stressed out and hostile to his father Peter (Craig Parkinson). Throughout this period, Butler visits Dr. R. Haynes’ (Alice Lowe) clinic for depression therapy. The viewer may have Butler explain to Dr. Haynes about his mother’s death when he was five; Peter had taken his stuffed rabbit toy, believing boys his age should not be playing with dolls, and Butler’s stubbornness to refuse to leave without it forced his mother to take a later train, which derailed and killed several passengers including her. Butler since feels responsible for her death, and sees completing the adaption of Bandersnatch, one of the books she owned, as a means to atone to her. Dr. Haynes prescribes Butler antidepressant medicines, which the viewer can choose to either have Butler take or flush down the toilet. The viewer may have the option to have Butler take an invitation to visit Ritman’s flat, where he lives with his girlfriend Kitty and child Pearl. There, the pair take hallucinogens, and Ritman then talks about alternate timelines and different paths. To demonstrate his theories on alternate realities, Ritman demands Butler, via the viewer, to determine which one of them should jump off the balcony. In future scenes, Ritman will be mysteriously absent if he was the one that jumped.
As the deadline to deliver the game to Thakur looms, with strange errors still present in the game, Butler begins to feel he is being controlled by outside forces, putting into question how much he trusts his father and Dr. Haynes. Butler finds his life mirroring that of Davies, seeing recurring imagery of a “branching pathway” symbol, which seemingly led to Davies beheading his own wife. As he begins to mentally break down and tries to fight against an unseen agent controlling his actions, the viewer has multiple options to explain to Butler, from his 1984 computer screen, who has been controlling him, one of which being that they are making these decisions for him via Netflix service in the 21st century. The viewer may discover a locked safe that either contains Butler’s old toy rabbit, or documents about him being monitored as part of an experiment.
Original titleBlack Mirror: Bandersnatch
TMDb Rating7.8 votes