Always keen to push the boat out, Netflix has become the first major production company to dip their toes into interactive filmmaking. Puss in Book: Trapped in an Epic Tale, a children’s ‘choose-your-own-adventure’ show, is now available to stream on the service.
In the 23-minute animation the viewer is in control, though sadly the interactive features only work on an iPad or smartphone.
At several intervals throughout the story the viewer must choose what should happen next, like whether the sassy, Hispanic cat should fight a god, or a tree.
It’s one of two Kids Interactive Adventures that Netflix are rolling out this summer, with Buddy Thunderstruck: The Maybe Pile set to follow on 14 July.
An interesting discussion has surrounded the development of interactive filmmaking. Critics argue that one of the greatest pleasures of the TV/movie experience lies in passivity, watching the story and being unable to influence how it unfolds. This inability to interact creates the powerful emotions that we associate with cinema. Horror movies, for instance, would be much less effective if we were able to alter the course of the narrative.
But in this instance, it seems like an effective device to shake up children’s television. It will be interesting to see if the streaming giants take this idea any further.
As for the show itself, we should warn that Antonio Banderas has long since flown the Puss in Boots coop. That said, Eric Bauza’s Antonio Banderas impression is pretty convincing, so the little ones will be none the wiser.