What Fans Should Know About That 'Bandersnatch' Book In The 'Black Mirror' Movie
Spoilers for Black Mirror Bandersnatch follow. No matter what choices you make in the choose-your-own-adventure movie Black Mirror: Bandersnatch, the premise is always the same. A teenaged programmer is making a video game based on the book Bandersnatch by Jerome F. Davies. Neither the book nor the author are real and even before you truly go down the rabbit hole that is Stefan's journey, you'll discover that's a very good thing. As stated in the trailer, Davies murdered his wife and Bandersnatch was his mental breaking point. But even though Bandersnatch isn't a real book in our world, life quickly begins to imitate art in the Black Mirror universe.
Stefan is already fascinated by the adventure book Bandersnatch when the labyrinthine Black Mirror movie kicks off. It's the basis of the video game that he pitches to Tuckersoft. And while not every character has read Bandersnatch or even really know what it is, it seems that it's general knowledge that the author cut off his own wife's head.
Besides reading about some of the gritty details in the biography The Lives of Jerome F. Davies, Stefan eventually gets his hands on a documentary about his muse. The documentary states:
"Towards the end of his life, Davies was apparently self-administering hallucinogens on a daily basis. This, coupled with his attempts to complete the complex, multiple narratives of Bandersnatch was to prove the final straw. He became obsessed with bizarre symbols and the limitations of his own free will. In his notes, Davies repeatedly sketched a glyph, which to him represented multiple fates, potential realities splitting in two. It was the start of his complete mental collapse."
Astute Black Mirror fans may pick up on the fact that the glyph that Davies becomes obsessed with is the same one that's featured in the episode White Bear. And just like in that Season 2 story, the glyph leads to horror in Bandersnatch. A woman in the documentary notes how Davies believed his wife was giving him psychoactive drugs "at the behest of a demon called Pax." He then killed his wife by decapitating her and drew the glyph symbol all over the walls with her blood.
Davies isn't the only one to believe in multiple realities. Viewers will eventually be forced to choose to follow Colin. And when Stefan goes to his apartment and takes drugs with him (either willingly or unwillingly), Colin explains that he also believes there are multiple realities. Soon, Stefan is also buying into this line of thinking just like the mentally unstable Davies.
Although Davies and his book aren't real, the word "bandersnatch" does have its roots in an actual book. The term first appeared in the poem "Jabberwocky," which was in Lewis Carroll's book Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There. Carroll's creation of the so-called "frumious bandersnatch" also appeared in his poem "The Hunting of the Snark." And while there are plenty of allusions to Alice in Wonderland with Stefan going through the mirror to get his bunny, Bandersnatch isn't really based on Carroll's writing.
While Alice's Adventures in Wonderland is a beloved book with many adaptations, the 19th-century author has become a controversial figure in more recent years. As Smithsonian.com outlined, some people have come to look at Carroll's focus on children as bordering on pedophilia. But Carroll never murdered anyone like the fictional Davies. Although, you can find examples of authors who murdered their wives in real life with people like Beat writer William S. Burroughs and French philosopher Louis Althusser.
While you can't pick up Bandersnatch and experience its multiple endings, you can still choose your own adventure in movie form, courtesy of Black Mirror. And, as the fictional history of Davies proves, sometimes things are better left not being true stories.