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Bobby Fischer Against the World (2011)

Bobby Fischer , Liz Garbus  |  NR |  DVD
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Bobby Fischer
  • Directors: Liz Garbus
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Docurama
  • DVD Release Date: December 6, 2011
  • Run Time: 90 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B005CB6MPE
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #76,018 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Editorial Reviews


Brilliant, haunting, avid and beautifully inquiring --Entertainment Weekly

a haunting portrait of the chess genius as an incandescent prodigy and horrifying old crank --Village Voice

Garbus has put together a complex and fascinating portrait of genius wasted --The Hollywood Reporter

Product Description

Product Description

In 1972, America was chess-obsessed. The Soviet Union used chess to demonstrate its intellectual superiority to the West, but along came a young, lone American, who demolished the Russian masters of the sport. At the height of his career, Bobby Fischer was better known than any other man in the world. Relentless press attention, political pressure and a monomaniacal focus on chess ultimately led to his undoing.

Filmmaker Liz Garbus uses the narrative tension of the 1972 match between Fischer and the defending World Champion, the Russian Boris Spassky, to explore not only the politically charged period of the early 1970s but also the nature of genius, madness and the game of chess itself.

Special Features

  • A History of Chess
  • The Fight for Fischer s Estate

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
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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29 of 36 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting look at a true prodigy December 7, 2011
3.4 stars

I was in early grade school when Fischer played Spassky, and I got so swept up in the Fischer-inspired Chess Boom (seems such a quaint idea now) that I ended up playing matches over the phone for hours every night by the time I was 12. Captain of the high school chess team as a sophomore, I was poised to rule the world. And then, suddenly...the CIA!!

I kid (about the Agency, I really was a chess geek though), yet Fischer's madness is one area this film spends a lot of time on while refusing to really probe from both sides. WHY did Fischer get so into the Protocols Of Zion and risk his whole "career" to talk about Zionist conspiracies? He's shown to be brilliant, but then derided out of hand as insane, given zero credit for being able to perhaps see a few moves ahead of the rest of us. Yet the most startling thing in this whole film for me was the early interview where he mentions that he likes reading about water pollution (this was years before the media paid it much mind at all) and how the government controls us. Not many folks were saying that out loud at that point, let alone young chess prodigies. And how many chess prodigies worked out like a boxing champion?

Fischer seemed exceptionally poised and alert then, and it struck me that a mind that sharp will always see the world a few moves ahead of most other people. He was well ahead of his time in terms of ecological concern, but of course this film shows clearly that Fischer's crazy theories of Zionist bankers destroying the world economy via the constant inflation of money supplies while controlling currencies were obviously totally insane.

What a nut! Yet he seems actually very lucid until the end in Iceland.
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14 of 18 people found the following review helpful
This is a comprehensive documentary on American chess star Bobby Fischer, who overcame increasing mental frailty to beat Boris Spassky for the world chess title in 1972 in Reykavik and then turned into a recluse. The makers of the documentary have tracked down everyone involved in this sad tale, even down to the Icelander who acted as his bodyguard all those years ago. This was an era when superpower rivalry was at its peak and chess served as a useful battleground -- who was best, the United States or the Soviet Union?

Bobby Fischer Against the World puts the championship match into its proper context and shows how the very private star overcame his mental demons to win the the game, and how he unravelled afterwards when it became clear the entire world wanted a part of him. The film's fairly serious flaw is the almost complete lack of actual chess. We're told time and time again that Fischer was a genius and the best in the world and we don't see a single successful game he plays. I imagine that at least some of the people sitting down to watch this will have at a rudimentary understanding of the rules and yet at no point are we shown a game he's played with an explanation of his great moves and why they were so successful. This may sound like a minor complaint but it really detracts from the documentary.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
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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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Good documentary
Published 2 days ago by LA
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Movie
Very interesting!
Published 1 month ago by Amy Hunter
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding Video Every Chess Player Must Watch!
Outstanding Video, every chess player must watch. Demonstrates how Bobby Fischer changed the game of chess and history. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Frank DelBonis
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Very nice
Published 2 months ago by Johnny
4.0 out of 5 stars interesting documentary (spoilers)...
checked this film out from the library and learned quite abit. Mr. Fischer at some point got on the wrong side of the American government and complained of being harassed by said... Read more
Published 4 months ago by Stacy Hackney (formerly customerS)
5.0 out of 5 stars A Genius Gone Mad
I was pained by the transition ob Bobby Fischer from such a quiet, shy young boy to such a hate filled anti Semitic paranoid. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Marc Schelpe
4.0 out of 5 stars Uneven but Very Good
Hi, The film is very good, probably a 4.5 star but I lean towards 4 as it's flaws could have been "fixed". Read more
Published 5 months ago by El Paso
5.0 out of 5 stars Great review
This covers most of Fischers life quite well. I wish it had gone into more deapts on his last years. The vintage films of him are revealing in seeing his facial expressions.
Published 7 months ago by Robert of Wisconsin
5.0 out of 5 stars Smashing! This is so much more than a slice of the life of Bobby...
Bobby Fischer was clearly the finest chess player in the history of the USA. After watching "Bobby Fischer Against The World" I have a much better understanding and... Read more
Published 7 months ago by Martin Z.
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Documentary!
This was recommended to me from a place I ordered " Searching for Bobbie Fisher"
I'm so glad I bought it! Read more
Published 9 months ago by patti
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