1169 – Ender’s Game (2013)

timespace coordinates: future North Carolina, Battle School, Fairyland / the End of the World, Command School, the Colony (SETTING)

Enders-Game-poster-600x888Ender’s Game is a 2013 American military science fiction action film based on Orson Scott Card‘s 1985 novel of the same name. Written and directed by Gavin Hood, the film stars Asa Butterfield as Andrew “Ender” Wiggin, an unusually gifted child who is sent to an advanced military academy in outer space to prepare for a future alien invasion. The supporting cast includes Harrison FordHailee Steinfeld, and Viola Davis, with Abigail Breslin and Ben Kingsley. (wiki)

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912 – Black Mirror: Bandersnatch (2018)

timespace coordinates:  England  July 1984poster-780Black Mirror: Bandersnatch is a 2018 interactive film in the science fiction anthology series Black Mirror. It was written by series creator Charlie Brooker and directed by David SladeNetflix released it on 28 December 2018 as a standalone film.  In Bandersnatch, viewers make decisions for the main character, the young programmer Stefan Butler (Fionn Whitehead) who adapts a fantasy novel into a video game in 1984.  Other characters include Mohan Thakur (Asim Chaudhry) and Colin Ritman (Will Poulter), both of whom work at a video game company, Butler’s father, Peter (Craig Parkinson) and Butler’s therapist, Dr. Haynes (Alice Lowe). The film is based on a planned Imagine Software video game of the same name which went unreleased after the company filed for bankruptcy. It also alludes to Lewis Carroll‘s own works that feature the bandersnatch creature. A piece of science fiction and horror, Bandersnatch incorporates meta-commentary and rumination on free will.maxresdefaultPresentation – Bandersnatch is presented as an interactive film. A brief tutorial, specific to the device being streamed on, explains to the viewer how to make choices. They have ten seconds to make choices, or a default decision is made. Once a playthrough ends, the viewer is given an option of going back and making a different choice. The average viewing is 90 minutes, though the quickest path ends after 40 minutes, and at least one path results in a 2.5 hour viewing experience. There are 150 minutes of unique footage divided into 250 segments.  IGN reports that according to Netflix, there are five “main” endings, with variants within each ending; such endings may be intercut with credits, similar to other Black Mirror episodes. Producer Russell McLean said there are between ten and twelve endings, some of which are more vague as endings compared to others, and according to director David Slade, there are a few “golden eggs” endings that may take a long time before viewers figure out how to achieve them.  No ending is considered “prescribed” over any other, according to executive producers Charlie Brooker and Annabel Jones, particularly as they felt some endings were not truly endings in the traditional sense. In most cases, when the viewer reaches an ending, the interactive film gives the player the option to redo a last critical choice as to be able to explore these endings, or they can alternatively view the film’s credits. In some cases, the same segment is reachable in multiple different ways, but will present the viewer with different choices based on the way they reached the segment. In other cases, certain loops guide viewers to a specific narrative regardless of the choices they make. Some endings may become impossible to reach based on choices made by the viewer, unless they opt to restart the film. This action will erase all stored information about which options they had selected while watching the episode on that device.MV5BZWFhZmRjZmItZDU4Zi00YjA2LTk2NzctYTRhZGY4Zjk5OThmXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNDg4MjkzNDk@._V1_Analysis – The term “bandersnatch” originates from a fictional creature created by Lewis Carroll, which appear in his 1870s poems “Jabberwocky” and “The Hunting of the Snark“. The film makes several allusions to Carroll’s works. Part of Butler’s motivation is to find his stuffed rabbit toy which leads him to discover deeper secrets, comparable to Alice‘s quest to find the White Rabbit in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Ritman and his girlfriend Kitty lead Butler into a psychedelic experience in their flat, correlating to the Mad Hatter‘s tea party from the same story, with Kitty’s appearance even similar to that of the Hatter. At one point, Butler travels through a mirror, or literally following the action suggested by the title of Carroll’s Through the Looking-Glass. The design of the Pax is similar to Carroll’s own drawing of the Bandersnatch. 

The “bandersnatch” term also relates to Bandersnatch, a planned video game by Imagine Software. One of several expensive “megagames” which Imagine Software worked on, Bandersnatch was never released as the company went bankrupt in 1984. Imagine’s closure was widely publicised as the events leading to it occurred at the time the BBC were featuring the company in its 1984 “Commercial Breaks” documentary series, and had cascading effects on the video game development industry in the United Kingdom. As an allusion, the film opens on 9 July 1984, the day Imagine was closed, and the cover of Crash with this news is featured in the film. The video game was mentioned in an Easter egg in series three episode “Playtest“, on the front cover of a magazine which is briefly shown onscreen.  nohzdyve-004-725x1024Additionally, the story shares elements of the works of Philip K. Dick, who frequently wrote on alternate realities and timelines. The Davies character is an allusion to Dick, who had frequently used recreational drugs throughout his life, and at one point attempted to kill his wife. Dick’s work Ubik is visually referenced in the film. Brooker also compares the story to the 1993 comedy fantasy Groundhog Day, about a character who re-lives the same day repeatedly.  Some of the themes of lack of free will, monitoring, and control, as well as the 1984 setting, led to comparisons to George Orwell‘s novel, Nineteen Eighty-Four. bandersnatch-screenBandersnatch has elements of comedy, horror, pathos, science fiction and a 1980s period piece. David Griffin of IGN compares it to the adventure video game series The Walking Dead, whose first instalment was released in 2012, and the 2018 adventure game Detroit: Become Human.  At one point, Thakur mentions that Butler’s game has no need to type in “get lamp”, which is the first necessary command that the player must use in the first text adventure game, Colossal Cave Adventure, and the title of a documentary about the onset of interactive fiction.  (wiki)

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855 – The Secret of Kells (2009)

timespace coordinates: 9th century Ireland

1118full-the-secret-of-kells-posterThe Secret of Kells is a 2009 French-Belgian-Irish animated fantasy film animated by Cartoon Saloon directed by Tomm Moore and Nora Twomey.

The film is based on the story of the origin of the Book of Kells, an illuminated manuscript Gospel book in Latin, containing the four Gospels of the New Testament located in Dublin, Ireland.

It also draws upon Celtic mythology; examples include its inclusion of Crom Cruach, a pre-Christian Irish deity and the reference to the poetic genre of Aislings, in which a poet is confronted by a dream or vision of a seeress, in the naming of the forest sprite encountered by Brendan. Wider mythological similarities have also been commented upon, such as parallels between Brendan’s metaphysical battle with Crom Cruach and Beowulf‘s underwater encounter with Grendel’s mother. 

The Secret of Kells began development in 1999, when Tomm Moore and several of his friends were inspired by Richard Williams’s The Thief and the Cobbler, Disney’s Mulan and the works of Hayao Miyazaki, which based their visual style on the respective traditional art of the cultures featured in each film. They decided to do something similar to Studio Ghibli‘s films but with Irish art. Tomm Moore explained that the visual style was inspired by Celtic and medieval art, being ‘flat, with false perspective and lots of colour’. Even the clean up was planned to ‘obtain the stained glass effect of thicker outer lines’. (wiki)

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848 – New Dark Age: Technology and the End of the Future by James Bridle (2018 book)

As the world around us increases in technological complexity, our understanding of it diminishes. Underlying this trend is a single idea: the belief that our existence is understandable through computation, and more data is enough to help us build a better world.
In reality, we are lost in a sea of information, increasingly divided by fundamentalism, simplistic narratives, conspiracy theories, and post-factual politics. Meanwhile, those in power use our lack of understanding to further their own interests. Despite the apparent accessibility of information, we’re living in a new Dark Age.new dark age
From rogue financial systems to shopping algorithms, from artificial intelligence to state secrecy, we no longer understand how our world is governed or presented to us. The media is filled with unverifiable speculation, much of it generated by anonymous software, while companies dominate their employees through surveillance and the threat of automation.
In his brilliant new work, leading artist and writer James Bridle surveys the history of art, technology, and information systems, and reveals the dark clouds that gather over our dreams of the digital sublime. (VERSO)

James Bridle on New Dark Age: Technology and the End of the Future



man always makes it clear to himself: “You are using things which have the intention of not being penetrable.” 1180

772 – Picnic at Hanging Rock (1975)

timespace coordinates: 1900. girls’ private school, near the town of Woodend, VictoriaAustralia

“What we see and what we seem are but a dream, a dream within a dream.”99405_frontPicnic at Hanging Rock is a 1975 Australian mystery drama film which was produced by Hal and Jim McElroy, directed by Peter Weir, and starred Vivean GrayDominic GuardAnne-Louise LambertHelen Morse, and Rachel Roberts. It was adapted by Cliff Green from the 1967 novel of the same name by Joan Lindsay, who was deliberately ambiguous about whether the events really took place, although the story is in fact entirely fictitious.

The plot involves the disappearance of several schoolgirls and their teacher during a picnic at Hanging RockVictoria on Valentine’s Day in 1900, and the subsequent effect on the local community.

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Marion stares down at the Picnic Ground and says, “Whatever can those people be doing down there, like a lot of ants? A surprising number of human beings are without purpose though it is probable they are performing some function unknown to themselves.”

751 – What Still Remains (2018)

Twenty-five years after a viral outbreak decimates the population, the remaining survivors still fear that deadly illness and the change it created. Against this post-apocalyptic backdrop, a young woman loses her family and struggles to survive on her own in the wilderness. When a lonely traveler offers her a place in his community, she must decide if the promise of a better life is worth the risk of trusting him.1114120WHAT STILL REMAINS is a 2018 post-apocalyptic mystery thriller written and directed by Josh Mendoza. The film stars  Lulu AntariksaColin O’DonoghueMimi RogersDohn Norwood and Jeff Kober.

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653 – Of Gods and Men / Des hommes et des dieux (2010)

spacetime coordinates: 1996, Algeria, Abbey of Our Lady of Atlas

“I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the most High. But ye shall die like men, and fall like one of the princes.”

4c35e6a0d5454Of Gods and Men is a 2010 French drama film directed by Xavier Beauvois, starring Lambert Wilson and Michael Lonsdale. Its original French language title is Des hommes et des dieux, which means “Of Men and of Gods” and refers to a verse from the Bible shown at the beginning of the film. It centers on the monastery of Tibhirine, where nine Trappist monks lived in harmony with the largely Muslim population of Algeria, until seven of them were kidnapped and assassinated in 1996 during the Algerian Civil War.Of-Gods-and-Men-2010-movie-posterLargely a tale of a peaceful situation between local Christians and Muslims before becoming a lethal one due to external forces, the screenplay focuses on the preceding chain of events in decay of government, expansion of terrorism, and the monks’ confrontation with both the terrorists and the government authorities that led up to their deaths. Principal photography took place at an abandoned monastery in Azrou, Morocco. (wiki)

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