By now, you’ve probably played Black Mirror’s interactive special Bandersnatch, or at least been unable to escape any mention of it on social media. In a new interview The Hollywood Reporter, Black Mirror creator Charlie Brooker revealed the Bandersnatch character he relates to the most, and his answer will definitely surprise you.
The choose-your-own-adventure tale focuses on video game designer Stefan, who is trying to create a game called Bandersnatch for the company Tuckersoft. When he goes in to pitch the game, he meets his idol, a fellow designer named Colin. Neither one of these key characters struck the same chord with Brooker as a minor character found in one of the film's many different endings. One very meta ending features Colin's daughter, Pearl, who is the one creating the game/film Bandersnatch for Netflix. And it turns out that Pearl ended up becoming the character Brooker related to the most.
Making an interactive Black Mirror episode is no small feat, so Brooker experienced many of the same technological issues Pearl did along the way. "There were lots of times where we found ourselves pretty much staring at complicated flowcharts and bits of code, much like Pearl does, and as you see, Stefan does," Brooker said of the making of Bandersnatch. "We had lots of conversations where we would have to simplify it. All of that stuff that you see in Bandersnatch, we ended up saying in real life. It's a very odd, meta, fourth-wall-, fifth-wall-, sixth-wall-breaking film. I don't know really how to classify it: as a film or as an experience?"
Bandersnatch’s producer, Russell McLean, also noted that Pearl symbolized a connection between Stefan and Brooker's making of the ambitious stand-alone special. "She thinks she's just found her dad's program and she's reinventing it as Bandersnatch the interactive film. But then she's starting to go into the same hole that Stefan went into and she's forced to do something which would be mad at this point: to destroy her computer, which is the same thing Stefan was forced into. She's losing control. And she's almost representing Charlie," the producer explained to THR.
Much like Pearl has to create the game from scratch using the original one as reference, Brooker had to figure out how to adapt his ambitious story with Netflix's technology. To make Bandersnatch, Brooker and Netflix created a tool called Branch Manager to map all of the possible outcomes. "You couldn't do this in a flow chart because it's dynamic and tracking what state you are in and doing things accordingly," Brooker explained.
According to THR, Netflix had determined the Pearl scene to be one of the most common quasi-endings that viewers would encounter. But Carla Engelbrecht, Netflix's director of product innovation, said it was added by Brooker as an Easter egg and a nod to his own process of making Bandersnatch. "The original version didn't have that intercutting, and then it emerged as they started getting into the episode and refining it. We really liked the feel of it," Engelbrecht said.
Bandersnatch is the most meta Black Mirror episode yet, and having Pearl be the character that Brooker relates to the most is another example of how the innovative movie blurs the line between reality and entertainment.