It is unsurprising that the Mandela Effect is embraced by TV and filmmakers alike. The idea of an alternative reality that might have seeped into ours is ripe for the imagination of creatives around the globe. Who wouldn’t want to go see a film where all the rules that we understand about our physical world can be broken? We were introduced to these concepts by HG Wells in his time-bending stories and by The Matrix that had the population living life through a computer simulation.
However, a movie about the Mandela Effect released in 2019 exploring this concept more directly. The concept is no less mind-bending than films about time travel or digital lives. Let’s hear more about the film starring Charlie Hofheimer that is streaming on Hulu and Amazon right now.
Mandela effect movie concept
The jumping-off point for the film is exactly what you would expect. It is the theory or urban legend, depending on your views, that there is a widespread failure of memory across the world. The thought is that people misremember the past because of leakage between two adjoining universes, ours and the one next door.
The film introduces the idea with the most common example in popular culture. They show the cover for the children’s books “The Berenstein Bears” and reveal to the audience that the book is really called “The Berenstain Bears” – it is a small difference but one that has persuaded many of the theory of a leaky reality. If you ask doctors, they will tell you that it is an example of how rubbish our memory is and that we can’t really trust what we think happened. For those who are massive believers in the multiverse theory, this is an example of a mass misremembering and in the other place, it actually is The Berenstein Bears.
So, the concept established – what story did they tell?
The film has a digital game designer as the lead character – a nod to The Matrix we guess. Brendan, this lead character played by Charlie Hofheimer and his wife Claire (Aleksa Palladino) suffer the worst tragedy ever. Brendan is thoroughly overcome with grief; he goes in search of hope, as we all would.
He hears about the Mandela Effect and becomes fixated on the concept. He tries to bring his worried wife along for the ride, but she doesn’t share his same belief. This part of the film is a clear attempt to titillate the audience with the concept of The Mandela Effect, as we are introduced to many of the popular examples through society and time.
Rather than explain physics and the confusing concept of the multiverse, the film fudges the issue a little by introducing a scientist who believes we are part of a giant computer simulation (sound familiar) and that the Mandela Effect is a glitch in the program. The main characters brother-in-law and best friend, Matt (Robin Lord Taylor) is brought along for the ride into this concept – and the central hope that the tragedy didn’t actually happen and is a glitch.
The writer-director David Guy has given the idea of the Mandela Effect this medium – hoping that a science fiction film is long enough to explore the concept is some depth.
Probably the biggest question to ask is – does the film manage to handle some heavy metaphysics alongside an enjoyable plot. And the answer is – just.
Computer science and the physics that underpins the film is accurately portrayed. So, if you are educated in the concept you won’t feel insulted by a director and writer taking the idea too far. However, it does mean that you cannot watch the film and do anything else at the same time. You can’t nip out for a cuppa without missing some essential explainer that will help you out for the rest of the plot.
So, if you are committed to the film you will be fine with the underlying concept. What about the emotions in the film? Well, the opening is distressing, and the focus of the plot is really on the sense of loss and personal struggle when dealing with grief. What some people describe as a conspiracy theory, others as pseudo-science and others as cutting-edge theory is used as a symbol of hope. The suggestion is that this other place that we glitch between could still hold what we love, and we can see them again. This is the secret desire of anyone that has lost someone close to them and so appeals to a deep desire that we all cling to.
But, this is an indie movie. This is code for saying that the budget was really low and therefore there are gaps in the production. The performances by the central actors are called “adequate” by some reviewers – which is a bit of an ouch comment. They do a decent job in telling the story and where the action doesn’t do this there is a handy narration to fill in the gaps. Everyone in the film seems to know what they are doing, and the plot is interesting. There is a sense that the film could have been better with a much bigger budget.
Our brief takeaway
We were drawn to this film because it was about the Mandela Effect. The fact they made this a computer glitch was a little annoying. It would have been better if they had committed to exploring the omniverse and the overlap between our universe and our neighbour – but maybe this was too much to ask on this budget. Overall, it is worth a look on a rainy night when you have nothing better to do. It will keep you interested if you keep your attention locked on the explainers!