Black Mirror Bandersnatch or the endless labyrinth

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After many months of rumors and waiting, Netflix premiered the Black Mirror movie at the end of the year. Here we present a criticism

Black Mirror Bandersnatch or the endless labyrinth

To end the year, Netflix released the long-awaited movie of the series Black Mirror. This series already has four seasons. The first two were produced by the British chain Zeppotron. Then, Netflix bought the rights for the next two, both with more episodes than the first and, of course, more budget. Now, on December 28, 2018, they released the interactive film Black Mirror: Bandersnatch.

Leer en español: Black Mirror Bandersnatch o el laberinto sin salida

The film revolves around a young man who must design a videogame based on the book Bandersnatch, in which the reader (or in the case of the video game, the player) chooses different paths through which the main character will go. And so do we, the Netflix audience, we must, about every ten minutes, make a decision regarding the plot of the movie.

The future and the 80s

The first thing that is evident in the film is the eighties aesthetic that is so characteristic of Netflix productions. The great first season of Stranger Things, Netflix original, revived a nostalgia for film and aesthetics of the 80s that is now being overexploited by the producer of the streaming service.

The first symptom was the second season of this same series, in which the context and aesthetics, which paid tribute to Spielberg and company, was only a prop and a backdrop, did not contribute anything to the plot. Different from the first season, in which the context of the silent war between the United States and Russia was fundamental in the course of events.

The same is true in this, the new delivery of Black Mirror: it would not matter whether it was set in the present or in the 80s. The same thing happened already in the chapters "San Junípero" and "USS Callister", in which the nostalgia and aesthetics of the eighties are absolutely unnecessary and exaggerated to visually compensate it for the poverty of history.


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The interactive format and the closed streets

The first decisions we must make in the film are what cereal the character will take at breakfast and what music he will listen to on public transport. These small decisions, however, do not change the course of the story at all, so its only function is to start boasting from the beginning of the interactive format.

The viewer begins to have relative control over the story when he or she must make the first important decision: will the main character accept the work they offer him or not? If you reject it, the story will run its course; if accepted, the film takes us to a hasty end and back again at the beginning to make us, again, take the decision and manipulate the viewer to take the other way: to reject the work.

Like this, there are many setbacks that are arbitrary, they are not the will of the spectator nor are they credible in the universe of the film. In this way, in addition to making us see the same scenes over and over again, the film makes us believe that we have control over the story but the truth is that it is manipulating us to choose one option or another. It opens roads that are actually closed streets and not complete narrative lines.

In the end, the labyrinth that pretends to be the film is not more than an avenue with closed streets that are detached from it.

Read also: We did not see it coming! 6 amazing plot twists of our favorite series

The history

The narrative threads, however, do end up separating near the end of the film. So the tape has several endings. All poorly written and forced. The relationship between the video game and the film is obvious, there is nothing subtle or insinuated. The intentions of the writers are clear in each dialogue and in each narrative line, they leave no room for interpretation. Again: gives the illusion that the viewer is in control but really the film is manipulative.

In all the endings, the protagonist or another character recites a monologue about the construction of time and the illusion of free will. So, although they look different, all the endings are actually the same thing: listen to what the writers have to say, but listen to it in the mouths of the characters.

These different presentations of the same monologue seem to be excusing the film from its failure because, in all, the same thing is said: there is a "something" (that something is different in each of the endings) that controls us, and that the free will it is an illusion. So everything goes in Black Mirror: Bandersnatch. And as everything goes, there is no credible atmosphere that feels credible, because when we least think about it, something happens that we never thought could happen, even when supposedly we have control of the story.

As if that were not enough, the monologue to which all roads lead us does not reflect on anything. The first two seasons of the series made the viewer uncomfortable. Contrary to what many say, its central axis was not technological advances but rather they were an excuse to question the realities and certainties that we take for granted in our daily lives.

For the next two seasons, the series has turned on itself and, again and again, takes us to the very end of the road, a kind of conspiracy theory that has nothing to do with questioning reality itself, but with unfounded paranoia: do we control what we do or does someone else control us?

This question, which, like the aesthetics of the eighties, at first seemed interesting, is now overexploited and told again and again, but by different actors with different costumes in different chapters. Bandersnatch is nothing more than a sample that the writers of Black Mirror were left without much more to say.


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LatinAmerican Post | Juliana Rodríguez Pabón

Translated from "Black Mirror Bandersnatch o el laberinto sin salida"