Black Mirror’s Bandersnatch is an "event" in itself, giving us an interactive episode where we can choose what happens – and it took inspiration from an unreleased game.
The new film/episode is part of the main universe of Black Mirror, though it’s standalone.
The film follows Stefan, played by Fionn Whitehead, who designs a game called Bandersnatch, which is based on a novel of the same name by Jerome F. Williams.
Stefan’s game is different to what’s come before, it lets you choose where it takes you, but rather than clicking ‘get lamp’ it asks you to make choices.
When Stefan goes to meet a developer and his idol Colin (Will Poulter) they discuss the author and Bandersnatch.
They comment: “Is he the guy that went cuckoo and cut his wife’s head off?”
Later we see Stefan buy a book on Jerome, and we see a disturbing and dark documentary looking at his life and descent into madness.
The book The Lives of Jerome F. Davies draws parallels with Stefan’s situation, but is the author real?
Is Jerome F. Davies real?
He doesn’t appear to be, his book also appears to be a fabrication for the Black Mirror film.
The word Bandersnatch actually comes from Alice and Wonderland, and is the creation of Lewis Carroll in Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There.
Is the game real?
There was a game called Bandersnatch, but it was never released. It was the creation of a Liverpool-based company called Imagine Software that folded after 18 months. The unreleased game was touted as something new, a different style of game.
It looks like Charlie Brooker was inspired by this in creating the interactive episode.
There’s another link too. When Stefan wakes up it has 9th July, 1984 as the date, the magazine Crash says: "On Monday 9th July at the High Court of Justice (Chancery Division) a further petition to wind-up Imagine on behalf of VNU Business Press (publishers of Personal Computer Games among others) went unopposed. Imagine was finished."
It’s the same date.
Lewis Carroll’s Jabberwocky poem
Bandersnatch was coined by Lewis Caroll in Alice and Wonderland. The dictionary says it means a "wildly grotesque or bizarre individual."
It was used to describe a "wonderful animal" in the 1872 book Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There .
The Jabberwocky poem says: "Beware the Jabberwock, my son!/The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!/Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun/The frumious Bandersnatch!"
Netflix’s interactive episode
Bandersnatch pulls on the 80s style of game and books that give you option as to how the story progresses.
The "morally-compromising adventure" puts you in charge of what happens.
There are choices to be made, challenges to overcome, dangers to encounter and, as always in life (and Black Mirror), consequences to be had.
If you end the experience with a choice, you can go back and choose again.
Black Mirror’s Bandersnatch is on Netflix now.
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