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Bobby Fischer Against The World 2011 NR CC

4.4 out of 5 stars (75) IMDb 7.4/10

Fischer's evolution from isolated child to chess prodigy, global superstar, angry recluse and, finally, fugitive from the law, is a spellbinding story of the making and unmaking of an American icon.

Starring:
Bobby Fischer, David Edmonds
Runtime:
1 hour, 32 minutes

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Product Details

Genres Sports, Documentary
Director Liz Garbus
Starring Bobby Fischer, David Edmonds
Supporting actors Anthony Saidy, Susan Polgar, Henry Kissinger, David Shenk, Gudmundur Thorarinsson, Boris Spassky, Mikhail Tal, Garry Kasparov, Mikhail Botvinnik, Tigran Petrosian, Russell Targ, Larry Evans, Shelby Lyman, Sam Sloan, Malcolm Gladwell, Fernand Gobet, Dick Cavett, Harry Sneider
Studio Docurama
MPAA rating NR (Not Rated)
Captions and subtitles English Details
Purchase rights Stream instantly and download to 2 locations Details
Format Amazon Video (streaming online video and digital download)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By K. Harris HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWER on November 15, 2011
Format: DVD
Few people, to me, are more inherently fascinating than chess legend Bobby Fischer. Walking a complicated line between genius and madman, Liz Garbus' incisive documentary "Bobby Fischer Against the World" does a fine job highlighting this dichotomy. From a troubled and isolated childhood, to international superstardom, to recluse, to fugitive--Fischer's life had such a dramatic arc that ninety minutes doesn't seem quite adequate to complete a full picture. And yet, Garbus does manage to cover about fifty years in the life of the largest celebrity the chess world has ever seen. When Fischer took the stage to compete against Soviet grandmaster Boris Spassky in the 1972 World Championship, the world paid attention in astounding ways. Fischer almost single handedly turned chess into a spectator sport. But he was never very comfortable in the limelight and the pressures and expectations certainly took their toll.

The centerpiece of "Bobby Fischer Against the World" is the 1972 match. We are introduced to Fischer as a youth through archival footage and given a glimpse of his unorthodox upbringing. The piece really focuses in, however, as Fischer readies for the infamous competition. The Fischer presented is complicated, to say the least, but also a brilliant strategist. The series was riddled with drama and controversy and remains as intense and as intriguing now as it did then. The world wanted to embrace Fischer, but he just wanted to play chess without what he deemed the annoying encumbrances of fame (which was just about anything involving media coverage as far as I could tell). It's not like he was looking for anonymity, though. He wanted to be recognized as the best, he just wanted it on his own terms.
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There is one scene that is probably the most telling about Bobby Fischer: he is talking about his childhood, talking about chess -- what else would he talk about, except for one topic that I will only briefly discuss below -- and he describes playing chess. Against himself.

The media and the world think that Bobby Fischer was against them. But perhaps in some ways, he really worked more against himself. But he didn't have much choice. His mom left when he was in his mid-teens, as "he could take care of himself," and so just like chess, he had to learn the rules of life on his own. In some ways this is good -- many rules that the world imposes on people are very artificial and flawed -- but in some ways bad -- it's difficult to navigate life without understanding the social mores of the "commoners." And Mr. Fischer surely tweren't no commoner. Hey, that's the way it is.

Awhile back, I read the book "Endgame: Bobby Fischer's Remarkable Rise and Fall," and it was a terrific read. That book went into far more details about Mr. Fischer's life than this movie -- it's much easier with literature -- and it would have been nice in a way if this book dealt with his life a little more outside of chess. This film, if it has a weakness, is that it concentrates so much of its time on The World Championship Match in Iceland. Sure, that was the pinnacle of his success, but it was the point where he threw in the towel as well and decided to retire. I really wish that he would have played against Karpov in 1976 (or so), but it was not to be. Mr. Fischer did not like to lose, and while he probably would have won easily against a patser like Karpov (OK, Karpov was no patzer but he surely wasn't a Bobby Fischer), Mr.
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Format: DVD
Making a documentary film is always a challenge for the creator, especially when the topic has been barely touched. Director Liz Garbus, in making the documentary "Bobby Fischer Against the World," had to overcome three critical obstacles.

First she had to portray Fischer's complex character. Since filming started after his death, Garbus had to dig up footage--scattered around the world--and weave together the various strands of Fischer's life. Not only that, she had to gather together all those who played important role in his life.

The second critical obstacle for Grabus was that she had to depict the period where the tension of the Cold War was emerging (because of the Vietnam War), and the whole world was going through major changes, with the entire planet becoming a mortal battlefield. Although chess had started to become popular, the hostility of that time was somehow deeply reflected on the chessboard, and this was soon exploited even more, when the world of politics penetrated into the world of chess.

Garbus' third critical obstacle was that Fischer's life can be divided into three parts: i) his life (and chess career) before 1972, ii) his battle for the title in 1972, and iii) his life after 1972. This means that Fischer's life is often summarized within the boundaries of a single event, stripping away all the aspects that formed his character up to that point. How was Garbus then, going to tell the story of a man who spent half his life playing chess and then disappeared? To overcome these obstacles, Garbus chooses a nonlinear storytelling. Going back--to Fischer's childhood and early years, and then later--forward to his life after the championship games, Garbus uses the 1972 events as the spine of the story.
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