To call Black Mirror: Bandersnatch complex is something of an understatement. The standalone Black Mirror movie's "Choose Your Own Adventure" style format lends itself to a reported one trillion plus unique versions of the story. However, it seems that the film is so complex that there are scenes and possibly endings that even its director hasn't accessed or unlocked.
In a recent interview with The Hollywood Reporter, those involved with the interactive film explained that, in their point of view, there are far more than the five "official" endings Netflix acknowledges, but director David Slade took that even further, revealing that there are scenes most viewers -- including himself -- with never reach in the film.
"There are scenes that some people just will never see, and we had to make sure that we were OK with that," Slade said. "We actually shot a scene that we can't access."
It's an interesting idea that there are scenes that most people will never see due to the vast number of outcomes even the most mundane of choices dictates. For those who have not yet immersed themselves in the movie, he's a brief primer.
Black Mirror: Bandersnatch follows the story of Stefan (Fionn Whitehead), a young video game developer in 1984 who descends into madness while working on a new game based on a fantasy book that itself is a "Choose Your Own Adventure" type story. As viewers play along, they discover more of Stefan's story -- specifically that his mother was killed in a horrific train accident when he was a child, an even that he blames both himself and his father for as it was his father's hiding of a favorite toy that led his mother to take the doomed train. This trauma is a defining moment in Stefan's life. It's why he's in therapy as we see during much of the film and its why he became interested in the Bandersnatch book in the first place -- the book belonged to his mother.
As the film progresses, viewers are prompted to make specific choices -- things like food, music, and even whether Stefan will kill his father or not -- that generally lead to one of five endings: Stefan dying with his mother as a child, Stefan going to jail, a character in the future creating a reboot of Stefan's game, Stefan being revealed to be on a movie set, and Stefan being dragged away by his father. None of the endings are particularly happy or even that conclusive -- most of them will continue to prompt the viewer to go back and make different choices, ultimately guiding the story down new paths over and over. It's similar in some respects to the way one can play a video game and end up with a different ending, higher score, or some other sort of "reward" of sorts.
The winding narrative and multiple ending options for Bandersnatch have led to speculate that there could be a "secret" ending, one in which poor, tormented Stefan actually ends up with a positive end. While Slade's comment doesn't exactly confirm that, it certainly suggests that it's possible, though there's also the question of what exactly constitutes and ending in Bandersnatch, which is something that series creator Charlie Brooker himself acknowledged was a bit of a debate.
"There were quite heated debates about what constitutes an 'ending'," Brooker said. "There's a school of thought that says any time it stops, and you go back, that's an ending. In Bandersnatch, there are endings that are really abrupt that are still endings, in my mind."
Without strictly defined parameters for an ending, much of the resolution of Bandersnatch is left up to interpretation, but one thing that is certain is that viewers are doing their best to tease out as many of the movie's mysteries as possible, even going so far as to create a chart breaking down the film's choices and where they lead. Ultimately, though, it's possible viewers will never know all of the elements of Bandersnatch's story. There are no plans for a linear version of the film to be released -- what you see is what you get -- but that may be part of what makes the film so interesting and also very Black Mirror.
"In a world of parallel realities, maybe there is no ending," co-executive producer Annabel Jones said.
Have you immersed yourself in the world of Black Mirror: Bandersnatch? Let us know in the comments below what outcomes you've reached with the interactive film.