The Mandela Effect

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The Mandela Effect
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IMDb: 5.8
Videogame designer Brendan explains that scientists put rats inside mazes to study how organisms use their memory to learn, adapt, and evolve as they create an internal map of their world. He always reads these studies because he uses those principles to design his games, and he points out that without memory, humanity would get nowhere. One day, Brendan goes to the beach with his wife Claire and their daughter Sam. They have a wonderful time together, and after a short nap, Sam announces she’ll go looking for shells with her Curious George toy, promising not to get in the water. However while Sam is distracted with the shells, the waves take away the monkey, so she gets in the water to retrieve it. Unfortunately the sea is too strong, and she never makes it back. The family offers all their support to the parents through the funeral, but Brendan and Claire are still devastated. Claire still feels like this isn’t real, and Brendan can barely function, constantly crying in his daughter’s room. A few months later, Claire decides it’s time to move and starts packing up Sam's room. However Brendan isn't ready yet and he immediately freaks out as he begs his wife to put everything back in place. When he grabs his daughter’s favorite books, he notices the title “Berenstain Bears” is written with an A although he remembers it with an E. Later at night, Brendan can’t sleep and he suddenly hears a noise. With a bat in hand, he goes to the kitchen and almost attacks, but it’s just his brother-in-law Matt raiding the fridge. They share a late-night snack while chatting, and Brendan asks Matt about the book title, delighted to hear that Matt also thought it was written with E. Since Brendan still can’t sleep, he searches for an explanation on the internet and finds thousands of articles about it. Lots of people have the same memory as he does and think it’s a conspiracy, but eventually Brendan comes across something called “the Mandela effect”, a phenomenon in which a whole group of people shares fake memories. They usually blame it on alternate timelines or parallel universes, and its name comes from the fact many people had thought Mandela died in prison. The next morning, while Claire is getting ready to finally return to work, Brendan notices a family picture on their refrigerator. The photo shows the Griffith Observatory and when Brendan asks, Claire confirms she remembers the picture being taken there. However Brendan remembers taking that exact same picture at the Pacific Science Center instead. Claire thinks he’s just confused and gets back to work. Afterward Brendan shows Matt what he’s found about the Mandela Effect, including a whole explanation and lots of examples, like the death of Mandela himself, Darth Vader’s quote, and the spelling of Looney Tunes. Brendan is convinced they’re jumping between parallel realities or part of a simulation, but Matt doesn’t take him seriously. During the following days, Brendan goes deeper into the phenomenon and watches lots of documentaries about subjects like string theory and even the possibility of a real Matrix. Brendan takes lots of notes and becomes obsessed with the subject, which is probably a way to keep his mind busy and ignore his grief. One afternoon, Brendan visits a priest to ask why God would take the life of a child like Sam. The priest explains that Sam’s death wasn’t God’s plan or desire, it was just a matter of free will, which many consider the greatest gift that God ever gave humanity. When Brendan returns home, he starts investigating free will as part of his obsession. Sometime later, Brendan meets with Matt again and continues to bother him with the subject. Matt explains he talked to a friend of his who is a neurologist, and she explained that our brains aren’t perfect: memories get scrambled and there are many gaps that get filled with external information. However Brendan is stubborn and refuses to accept it can only be a coincidence. Later during dinner, Claire confesses she’s worried about Brendan because he’s been very withdrawn lately and insists he should share his troubles. Brendan asks her to describe the Monopoly Man and Claire mentions he has a monocle, but when she checks the game box, she sees the little man actually doesn’t have anything on his face. Then Brendan brings out Sam’s Curious George book, saying the monkey used to have a tail on the drawings and even swearing that Sam’s plushie had one as well. Claire doesn’t like their daughter’s death used like that, but Brendan just keeps going, pointing out that after the funeral Claire even said it didn’t feel real. When he starts talking about realities shifting, Claire snaps and scolds Brendan for refusing to move on and pouring his grief into this dumb obsession instead. Sometime later, Brendan and Claire go out on a double with Matt and his new boyfriend. Brendan is lost in thought and barely paying any attention to the conversation, so he tries to escape to the bar, but Matt reminds him he and Claire need to support each other. Brendan admits that’s true and returns to the table. However as soon as he gets home, Brendan jumps on the computer again to research the simulation theory, which says we live in a computer-programmed reality. Brendan’s notes grow and he starts keeping up a board, desperate to find proof of a parallel universe where Sam is still alive. He watches videos of famous people talking about the subject like Elon Musk and Neil deGrasse Tyson, and eventually he comes across the name “Roland Fuchs”, who is supposed to be working on a way to prove the simulation. However the video he finds on websites isn’t working anymore, so he has to turn to piracy sites that keep a backup of it. The file he downloads is corrupted, but by using special software, he manages to fix it. The video shows Doctor Fuchs giving a lecture about the simulation theory, but unfortunately it gets corrupted again and Brendan’s left with nothing. Refusing to give up, Brendan searches where Fuchs is working nowadays and records a video message for him. Days pass and Brendan never hears back from Fuchs, so he travels to the university to contact the doctor in person. However Fuchs is too busy and he doesn’t have time to hear a random fan’s rambling. Later that night, Brendan tries to be a better husband and starts getting frisky with Claire, but he pauses in the middle of it because he thinks he can hear Sam calling for him. Frustrated, Claire tells him he should see a grief counselor. The next day instead of seeing a counselor as he promised, Brendan shows up at Fuchs’ house and convinces him to give him a few minutes of his time. Fuchs explains that the Mandela Effect is just a case of fake memories, however he also thinks they’re breadcrumbs left by the simulation we live in glitching after a system update. Brendan points out that if reality is just a computer code, then he should be able to hack it, but Fuchs thinks that’s ridiculous and takes him to the university. On their way there, they discuss the possibility of the world existing only because a conscious being is observing it. Brendan compares it to videogames and how they only load an area when a player enters it, the rest of the time those areas don’t exist. So instead of hacking the simulation, what he needs to do is overload it to overwhelm the processor. Only a very powerful machine could do such a thing, and Fuchs reveals this university has a quantum computer. They enter the lab together but when Fuchs is explaining how to enter a code, they’re interrupted by Doctor Manning, who doesn’t approve of Brendan’s presence. The duo immediately goes back to the doctor’s house, where Fuchs explains he thinks the simulation tried to stop him because he’s a bug in the system, and reminds Brendan that ideas are dangerous things. Brendan worries if the simulation is recreational or wants power, comparing the being behind it to political and corporate power. Later that night Brendan dreams of Sam’s death and wakes up when he hears her calling for him again. He rushes to Sam’s room and sees a human shadow, which suddenly glitches and disappears. He tries to go for a drive to clear his mind, but he can’t stop seeing the world as a giant chain of code connected to a quantum computer. Eventually he falls asleep in the car and wakes up in a random alley downtown. Suddenly he hears a horrible high-pitched sound and he screams in pain as reality starts glitching, only to suddenly blink and wake up in his usual bed. When Brendan leaves the room, he’s shocked to see Sam in her own room and Claire comes to drag her to the bathroom. However when he tries to follow them, he only finds his wife washing her teeth. Brendan thinks he’s going crazy and Claire tries her best to comfort him. Afterward, Brendan goes to the library to pick a bunch of books on quantum computing and starts working on a code that could overload the simulation. The next few days Brendan only spends his time coding, which worries Claire. One night, Sam appears in her parents’ room and climbs into bed because she had a nightmare. Brendan sleeps peacefully next to her, but in the morning, he wakes up to an empty bed. Thinking it was a dream, Brendan goes downstairs, but this time Sam is there as if nothing happened. Claire and Matt treat her normally too, so Brendan calls everyone he knows to confirm his suspicions: nobody remembers Sam dying, so reality has been rewritten. He tries to discuss this with Fuchs but he won’t answer his calls. Brendan thinks the simulation gave him his daughter back so he would stop the creation of the code, but he doesn’t care, he’s happy to have Sam back. The family spends lots of time together and is very happy until one night when Claire wakes up from a terrible nightmare in an awful state. She swears she’s just fine, but the next day Brendan finds the breakfast burning and Claire spacing out. Determined to cheer her up, Brendan takes the family to paint some pottery together. Suddenly he sees cracks appearing on his pot and Claire gets aggressive, smashing objects on the floor just because they aren’t using the color she wants. Brendan decides to return home and tries to make Claire rest, but she keeps staring at Sam and freaking out, saying the girl shouldn’t be there. Worried that the reality shift is making his wife sick, Brendan asks Matt to babysit Sam and runs to Fuchs’ house, only to be received by the doctor’s wife. It turns out he self-deleted two months ago because he wasn’t taken seriously by the science community. As Brendan thinks he saw Fuchs just two days ago, a crack appears on the glass, which he also sees as a sign from the simulation. Determined to make things right, Brendan rushes to his house and starts working on the code again. He also records a video for his family just in case the simulation kills him like he thinks it killed Fuchs. While Brendan works, Matt takes care of Claire, who has become catatonic. When the code is finally ready, Brendan goes to the university and tries to access the quantum computer, only to be blocked by Manning, who tries to call security. Brendan jumps on him to stop him, but he accidentally pushes too hard and Manning hits his head when he lands on the floor, instantly dying. Brendan feels very guilty but he still takes Manning’s card key and keeps going. Once he reaches the computer, Brendan implants his code with a USB stick and he watches the numbers go by as the computer lights flicker. Soon the machine starts to make a weird noise, so Brendan rushes outside only to discover that the parking lot is empty and his car is gone. In a blink, he finds himself on a bus and he gets a call from his wife saying she doesn’t feel good. At that moment, he notices a passenger glitching as she goes through the bus floor, and a couple nearby have glitching faces too. Brendan gets off the bus and runs through the city, noticing all kinds of glitches going on: the time of the day constantly changes, the trees go through different colors, and there are two moons in the sky. Eventually Brendan gets home and rushes to hold his wife and daughter close as the environment around them also glitches like crazy. Claire’s face glitches too and she screams in pain while the two moons collide in the sky before everything goes pitch black. Then the code appears on the screen as the universe reboots itself from the very beginning of existence, going through dinosaurs, lost civilizations, wars, and the usual important moments of human history. When the reboot finally stops, Brendan is glad to be on the beach with his family again. This time when Sam mentions she’ll go looking for shells, Brendan makes her leave the Curious George behind, saving her life.
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