Around the closing time of the film, the main character, Stefan, shouts “I am out of control!” Among all the other things that could have rang a bell in my head, the one thing that really got me thinking was – haven’t we all heard our politicians say this in one or the other way?
In case you are wondering what I’m talking about, let me tell you that the standalone movie of Netflix’s Black Mirror dropped on December 28 and the world just went crazy. Black Mirror: Bandersnatch is the first interactive film by Netflix which allows the viewer to remote control the actions of its protagonist. Many of us who saw it couldn’t stop ourselves from calling it a cinematic revolution. It is indeed a giant step in content creation but more than that it is an experience which makes the viewer question their choices including the choice of experiencing it.
The movie is a lot like a functional democracy and probably is much more self aware than it has to be. At a certain point in the film, we feel sorry for Stefan because the choices we made on behalf of him have really awful consequences. If history is anything to rely on, most of us have felt sorry, on numerous occasions, for choosing a leader we wanted to but didn’t need to. However, Netflix does provide you an option to go back and re-think your choice and choose again accordingly. Unfortunately, that option is not available in real life but even if the chance was given to people to re-asses their choice of leader in a democracy, how sure are we that they (us) would not choose the same option (mistake) again?
Stefan is asked to build a game on a book called Bandersnatch, which contains parallel story-lines and multiple endings. When the head of the company asks him if the game is ready, he says he needs time as he “wants to build the game exactly like the book.” Now, it’s not a coincidence that most countries today have a book, the Constitution, which has guided them to build their respective nation-states. Every leader around the world who has/had been elected in a democracy has always claimed that he/she has always followed the book. It is also interesting how Stefan fails again and again to create a perfect game because ideally a perfect nation doesn’t exist.
Black Mirror has always been successful in making strong statements on various issues ranging from modern love to the misuse of technology but with Bandersnatch, a meta-masterpiece in my opinion, Charlie Brooker, the Show-runner, has perhaps taken it one notch higher and questioned the way a democracy is functioned in today’s world. Given the way people of different countries have chosen their leaders in the past decade, it is scary to think of the relevance of Bandersnatch in our lives. May be the intention was to make us realize how our day-to-day choices affect our life in a bigger way but I’m sure that Charlie Brooker and his director had kept the current political scenario in mind before writing it.
After all, they were just trying to make a movie. A movie is nothing but a collection of glorious lies much like most of our governments.