I believe I finally know enough about Bobby Fischer.
I remember when Fischer, in 1972, defeated the Russian Boris Spassky and became world chess champion. In the years since that historic match in Iceland, I’ve read many articles about the strange boy wonder from Brooklyn. Earlier this year, I consumed Endgame, a 416-page biography of Fischer’s evolution from chess prodigy to infamous anti-Semitic, anti-American, radio-ranting fugitive from the law.
And now, thanks to Liz Garbus’s documentary, Bobby Fischer Against the World, I even know what Fischer’s backside looks like in the shower. Other than that unexpected visual, the movie didn’t really show me anything new about the person Life magazine dubbed “The Deadly Gamesman.”
But the film is still intriguing, mostly because its subject remains such an enigma. Nothing I’ve read and nothing in this documentary really explains the reason behind Fischer’s intense drive. Bobby Fischer became the world’s best chess player because, basically, chess was all he did. No football games with the boys for young Bobby, and no girls in the backseats of Chevys. Just Bobby and a chessboard – thousands and thousands of times, for years on end.
Fischer simply fell in love with the game and, whenever possible, used it to escape from the outside world. Ironically, that obsession eventually brought the outside world to him. If Fischer were alive (he died in 2008), he might say the makers of this movie got the title backwards – he would probably prefer The World Against Bobby Fischer.
Fischer’s single-minded drive cost him a chance at a well-rounded, balanced life – and quite possibly his sanity. That’s enough for me to know. Grade: B
Director: Liz Garbus Release: 2011
Watch Liz Garbus Discuss Her Film (click here)
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