Black Mirror: Bandersnatch offers viewers a new way to consume entertainment that seemingly puts them in the narrative driving seat.
Offering several pathways of storytelling the feature-length episodes weaves an intricate web of possible plot points and outcomes for lead protagonist Stefan (Fionn Whitehead) and the people he interacts with like fellow computer programmer Colin Ritman (Poulter).
Bandersnatch was released on Netflix over the Christmas period and despite the many challenges Whitehead and Poulter faced shooting their roles both would be up for doing the “choose your own adventure” format again.
“I’d love to do one again,” Will told Yahoo Movies UK. “Maybe a little break between this one and the next one because the mental energy it requires is mad.”
Fionn agreed to add: “We were the guinea pigs.”
While this format is one of the first of its kind for film and TV, show creator Charlie Brooker says people have been consuming entertainment in this way for years.
“I don’t think there is anything new about it,” Brooker said of his series. “Through the Nineties, there were full motion video games so I don’t think it’s new, I think what’s new is the way this is delivered to you; it’s not via a gaming platform and it is seamless.
“I also don’t think this type of storytelling is ever going to replace regular linear storytelling. I just think it’s a different form of storytelling that has existed now for several decades and the two can live in harmony, like ebony and ivory.”
Whitehead and Poulter think that this form of entertainment consumption is good for viewers in that it makes them actively think about the moral and ethical questions Bandersnatch presents like which character should jump off a building.
“I think that it’s good that this episode does this to the audience, and that you are forced to choose, because it does make you think about your actions and the information you are taking in rather than just blindly accepting whatever’s thrown at you,” Fionn explained. “It means you have to focus and you can’t be on your phone or whatever while you’re watching it.”
“I think it encourages people to not consume passively and actually take on a more active and mindful role in engaging with media,” Poulter continued. “I think ultimately it is a positive thing because I’m guilty of sometimes turning on a film and then I’ll be checking my phone and thinking ‘why am I doing that?’ splitting my attention.
“With Bandersnatch, it really does encourage the viewer to get back to the focal point which is the piece of art.”
The actors also think Black Mirror is a great way for people to learn to be more mindful of their technology and social media consumption too.
“I think its good to be wary of [technology],” Whitehead said.
“[Charlie and Annabel Jones] are able to make us aware of the dangers so hopefully, we don’t fall prey to the traps that they present,” Poulter added.
“So rather than depicting a very, very bleak future where we’re all destined to be consumed, it’s actually an opportunity to learn and avoid the pitfalls.”
Black Mirror: Bandersnatch is available to stream on Netflix now.