Monday, September 28, 2015

Movie Review - "Pawn Sacrifice"

Pawn Sacrifice is a new biographical film about U.S. Chess Grandmaster and World Champion Bobby Fischer.  He rose to fame in the late 1960s and dramatically won the World Chess Championship in Reykjavik, Iceland in 1973, defeating Russian World Champion Boris Spassky.

Tobey Maguire plays Fischer, the troubled genius whose mental illness vexed and complicated his exceptional chess career.  Much of the dramatic force of the movie explores (even without words) the struggles of his paranoid and delusional mind, and the obstacles his illness presented both to his own goals, but also to those around him.

His lawyer/agent, Paul Marshall, serves as the main spokesman in the film for one of the underlying plot conflicts - that of the Cold War rivalry between the U.S. and Soviet Union - which lent far more interest and symbolic value to the event in the eyes of the world.  This aspect of the match should draw the attention of of movie viewers with an interest in history.

As a clergy-type, myself, I particularly appreciated the portrayal of GM Bill Lombardy, a Roman Catholic priest who served as Fischer's "Second" (his chess-training partner).  This character serves well to "interpret" much of the chess "stuff" for the non-chess characters (and the audience).  But I also appreciated the portrayal of a clergyman as a "regular guy", and yet also a man of wisdom.  So often Hollywood portrayals of clergy make us villains or fools.  I appreciated this approach.

Overall I'd recommend "Pawn Sacrifice".  I enjoyed it very much.

1 comment:

Scott Diekmann said...

I haven't seen the movie yet, but I've been looking forward to it. Thanks for the review!