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Malcolm David Kelley,
I have followed Magnus Carlsen since he was around 13 years old. Here in Norway we have of course got to know him very well thru the years, he was a boy we sort of all watched grow up to become the highest ranked chess player of all time. And the road to the top has been entertaining, thrilling and inspiring.
This documentary show us a lot of images from Magnus youth, all the way back to when he was very young, before he even started playing chess. The documentary is for the most part linear in it's storytelling, and is also very "by the book" in it's presentation. Very little new is told that I didn't already know. What i hadn't seen much of before was these private family film clips, which this documentary shows a lot of. And they are IMO the strong part of the documentary, followed by narration, mostly done by Magnus father.
But here is also the documentary's weak point, it's linear storytelling, a story which I and most Norwegians already know, i can't but feel it becomes a bit repetitive. It feels like the documentary is a sort of a flat textbook tale that we all know how ends, and what we all know contains.
And the documentary is short, it runs at just above 1 hour, and i feel that it shouldn't have ended where it did, and far to few interviews were done with key people to try and get a better understanding of what goes on, and why Magnus is such a big deal. The only thing i can think of that resulted in the exclusion of these interviews is that they didn't have the money, and therefor it also feels like this documentary wasn't really taken as seriously as it should. Because i can't believe the director didn't want this film to include interviews with players like Anand and Agdestein, among many others, to further tell this story.
This documentary could have been a lot more exiting. One thing i would have wanted from it is to hear what other champions felt and learned facing Magnus on the board.
I also felt that the super cuts with all the media clips was poorly done, here it seemed like the director actually knew he was "only" making a very predictable documentary, basically just showing Magnus from A to B with a tension chess game at the end. Almost like he just rushed to the end to show us why he wanted to make this documentary in the first place. To say: Magnus is the best chess player in the world.
It's just that, we all know this already.
I actually wanted to see those media clips, and i also wanted to see when those clips where aired, to give us a clear picture on how Magnus progressed, month by month, when he was closing in to the top. And as i already mentioned, i already knew these things from reading the newspapers here in my country, but for viewers anywhere else, this would have helped a lot to the story. But instead these clips are cut and mixed in such a way they become babble and a mess, and this was IMO a mistake.
The documentary does however have many good moments as well. It's just that i feel i don't know Magnus much better now than i did before i saw it. This might be completely different for people that don't know much about him of course, but the film is still a very safe tale told in a safe linear pattern, and moves very carefully in it's presentation.
6/10 - decent
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