Directed By Benjamin Ree
The life and times of Magnus Carlsen. How the “Mozart of chess” became World Champion at the age of 22.
Magnus Carlsen is seated in front of ten Harvard Lawyers. He is facing the opposite direction from his opponents, and just for good measure, also blindfolded. The outcome is simply staggering.
Born in Tønsberg, Norway we get a behind the scenes look at where it all begin for the child prodigy turned World Champion. We get the same elements as your standard coming of age movie including the awkward and often challenging school years, the internal battle within and finally the rise and success in his later years. You’ll find a streamlined, smooth and solid form of filmaking here by Benjamin Ree. Having little knowledge of chess or Magnus Carlsen, the tension is well hyped for the 2013 final between Viswanathan Anand and the challenger Carlsen that we cut to throughout the documentary.
The most fascinating aspect of the documentary is Magnus’ thought process. For me, It’s better not knowing or even fully understanding how his brain calculates the game of chess and the documentary never truly tries to explain it, more showcase the spectacle of it all. You certainly don’t need to have an inbuilt interest in chess to marvel at his achievements, although I’m sure you would get a whole new layer if you happen to be a follower. A piece of work that is straightforward in its pursuit to highlight the incredibly complex game of chess.
In many scenes Magnus is engulfed in the media circus that is forever behind him. Often looking uncomfortable with the attention, you can’t help thinking of the effect being at the center of the frenzy has on someone so young. Archive family footage allows us to see the intellectual beginnings of a chess Grandmaster and director Ree’s love for both Magnus and his story is easy to see in each frame.
There is no doubt that Magnus Carlsen is a wonder to behold. He’s currently defending his title at the 2016 World Chess Championship in New York and has the highest FIDE rating of all time. A monumental talent that is sometimes difficult to convey on screen, Magnus is a worth while watch for anyone with even a remote interest in chess.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★