Coffee & Contemplation

Alles was zu lang für Twitter ist

Review: Black Mirror – Bandersnatch (2018); Dir.: David Slade

I really love the idea of interactive television from a narrative point of view. It seems really intriguing to make the viewer complicit in the actions of the protagonist. And Bandersnatch discusses in some few moments this themes. It could lead to the integration of highly philosophical themes of free will and action theory in mainstream pop culture (in the same way The Good Place did with moral philosophy), but it quickly becomes obvious that was not the goal with Bandersnatch. In a twist of irony, it could be, that Charlie Brooker had this vision, when he wrote Bandersnatch, but it got diluted by Netflix’ goals of producing content for a mainstream audience. A more sober approach would be to interpret the things, I really liked in Bandersnatch as happy little accidents, while the whole thing just is smokes and mirrors from the beginning to the end. My biggest problem is, that the interface is way to clunky for this kind of interaction. It doesn’t feel intuitive or smooth and is barley innovative, more so considering the series of modern Telltale games, which work in more or less the exact same way. I could think of a couple of ways to smooth this out, for example don’t give some sort of text-clue, what could happen next. This always leads to disappointment, since every viewer (or player) interprets this differently. While this interpretation of outcomes of different paths can factor in in the gameplay, it would be way more interesting to keep it even more vague. Just let the player decide if the protagonist should act more passive or more active in different situations, if anger, fear, hope or else should guide him. Let the player decide if you want to see a brave or cowardly protagonist. This opens so much more possibilities for interesting story arcs. Bandersnatch, in it’s current form, is note more than a gimmick, and to end on a positive note: just watch Russian Doll, also streaming of Netflix. It has the same motives of unprocessed child trauma, multiple realities and action theory, but is way more interesting, has better (or any) female characters and does not hide behind supposed interactivity.