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'Bobby Fischer Against the World' is a documentary feature exploring the tragic and bizarre life of the late chess master Bobby Fischer. The drama of Bobby Fischer's career was undeniable, from his troubled childhood, to his rock star status as World Champion and Cold War icon, to his life as a fugitive on the run. This film explores one of the most infamous and mysterious characters of the 20th century. Written by
This fascinating film documents the rise and fall of chess grandmaster Bobby Fischer. It isn't really about chess; it's very much more about a man who was obsessed by it. As a result of his pursuit of perfection on the chess board, he piece by piece lost his own mind. The intensity of the mind games necessary to succeed in top level chess overflowed into the personal life of Fischer until he became a fully fledged paranoid schizophrenic. This ultimately resulted in his public anti-Semite and September 11th ravings. By the end it seems quite obvious that Fischer was a mentally ill man whose genius on the chess board was as much fuelled by his mental disorder than anything else. His obsessive immersion into all things chess at the expense of anything else in his life was after all an extremely unhealthy pursuit; it made him the genius he was but at a terrible human cost.
The key historical event that the film revolves around is the 1972 World Championship against the Soviet grandmaster Boris Spassky. This dramatic confrontation hosted in Iceland had huge political significance seeing as it set the American against a Russian at the height of the cold war. As a result it was probably the most internationally famous chess match ever played. Even at this early stage, however, Fischer's erratic behaviour is quite evident. He almost never made it in the first place due to his own personal demons, when finally there he arrived absurdly late and then proceeded to complain about the hum of the TV cameras. You might find yourself wishing that the dignified Spassky actually defeated this highly strung man. But this is partially why this documentary is an interesting one, as its central character is not particularly likable at all. There is very little actual footage of Fischer; he remains a very enigmatic figure. After the Spassky match less and less is seen of him, so much so that his next public appearance in a match in Yugoslavia occurs the best part of twenty years later. In agreeing to this he contravenes international law, seeing as this country was in the midst of a terrible war. The sight of Fischer publicly spitting on the letter warning him that he would be breaking international law is a grim one indeed; the years that followed until his death in 2008 seem to be equally mysterious and sad.
Bobby Fischer Against the World is a very good documentary about a troubled man who was destroyed by the only thing he loved. The documentary states that he was the greatest player there ever was. Personally I think this is a somewhat romantic statement based mostly on the drama of his ascent. But for sure, he was one of the most fascinating chess players that ever lived and in many respects remains an enigma still.
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