CultureReviews

Bandersnatch chose the wrong option, fails to impress

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Or, an alternate title could be, Bandersnatch is a rough draft to a much bigger plot

Or, Bandersnatch takes entertainment to the next level

In the pure Bandersnatch fashion, choose your own title!

The point is Netflix has done it again. After breaking the norms of TV and theatre industry and being a disrupter, Netflix is now taking storytelling to the next level.

They have brought ‘choose your own adventure’ format to adults with Bandersnatch. You may have already experienced it with Minecraft on Netflix where you can choose the next course of action.

The way it works is that you have to use your TV remote to choose one of the two options that pop-up on the screen and the story will take a different course based on your choice. Interesting!

While the storyline of Bandersnatch was not unto the level of Black Mirror or what we have come to expect from Charlie Brooker. To me, it looks like a rough draft to a much better story.

Children might not mind rewatching the whole segments again (my sons have watched Big Hero 6 over a million times and that’s what they want to watch again) as they make different choices or get stuck in a loop. But the adult in me gets frustrated. I need the story to move forward, I want to know the unknown and not re-watch the known. It was a painful experience for me to watch the same segments over and over again.

If I were to write an episode, I would follow this format:

1) I would very much like the story to progress further when I make a choice, instead of re-repeating what happened.
2) Instead of actors pretending to be waiting for my 8 seconds of decision making, the screen can freeze; you could see chinks in acting as the actors were taking their time to wait for the decision making.
3) Please remove all unnecessary decision making that doesn’t have any impact on the actual storytelling.

I have watched a couple of endings so far – 3 to be precise – and every storyline has its own unique ending. I have kind of lost interest as the story itself isn’t mind-boggling as you would expect from the creator of Black Mirror.

BUT…and that’s a big but, I see it as an experiment — something Netflix is not shy of doing —  which could translate into a much better storytelling format in future.

Once again Netflix has shows how technology can be used to create newer formats to tell a story. Now, how are theatres and other channels going to use it will be interesting. I see a huge potential of it in VR and AR, where not only you can choose your own endings, you can also add new components to the storyline. It opens a new world of creativity and kudos to Netflix for doing that.

All said and done, I am a huge fan of Brooker and I am really excited to see more crisp and polished ‘choose your own adventure’ episodes of Black Mirror.

If you have seen the movie, what’s your experience?

Swapnil Bhartiya
I have more than 12 years of experience covering Enterprise Open Source, Cloud, Containers, IoT, Machine Learning and general tech. My stories cover a very broad spectrum - traditional Linux, data center and Free Software to contemporary emerging technologies like 'serverless'. Widely Read: My stories have appeared in a multitude of leading publications including CIO, InfoWorld, Network World, The New Stack, Linux Pro Magazine, ADMIN Magazine, HPE Insights, Raspberry Pi Geek Magazine, SweetCode, Linux For You, Electronics For You and more.