When I was a lad, a fellow named Edward Packard came up with the Choose Your Own Adventure series, books where you read until an action point and you had to make a decision - your decision determined the plot of the book from there on out by sending you to a specific page where things continued.

Using real-time video coding procedures, a group of researchers have created a similar approach that is interactive for movie watchers, so if you're one of those annoying French nihilists and like movies that end with a crying clown or whatever, okay, it can happen, but if you're an outrageously optimistic American and like happy endings, that could be possible also.

"Turbulence", the prototype created by Prof. Nitzan Ben Shaul of Tel Aviv University's Department of Film and Television. recently won a prize at the Berkeley Video and Film Festival for technological innovation.

The Cave of Time Choose Your Own Adventure
Is a film version of Choose Your Own Adventure book "The Cave of Time" coming soon?  Here's hoping. Photo: Wikipedia

How does it work? The viewer watches the film on a computer monitor and, just like in those Choose Your Own Adventure books, has to make a decision at certain points - like clicking on a glowing phone to send a text message. 

There are no swords or wizards yet, though, instead you have three Israelis in New York who haven't seen each other in a while.    Like those books I mentioned, you can backtrack and see what would have happened if you took a different course.

If you do nothing and let the film run its course it lasts 83 minutes but by being interactive you can obviously speed it up - or slow it down if you like to ponder the implications of what you do.  

"Sliding Doors and Run Lola Run inspired me. They make you think about options in life, but they don't let you experience what responsibility feels like at crucial decision points," says Ben Shaul. "In our film you decide where the character should go, and you can decide to return to the point where the plot flipped. It's gripping."

Heck, if they put "Willow" in this format, I'm buying an iPad right now.  Unlike in "The Saint", Val Kilmer is the perfect choice and a better Madmartigan than I would be, though it would be fun to try.