Plot-This documentary explores both the life of one of the best in the game of Chess, and also,the rise of the Chess Boom. This film details-Bobby from his humble beginnings, to learning Chess at age 6 and his rise to the top and then his fall to the bottom. Where his anti social behavior and selfish acts alienated him from people. To his out of control comments, that lead to a backlash in America against him. He was a troubled genius who never got to live his childhood, and never seem to know how to handle his celebrity.
Review-HBO documentaries always seem to take a subject in almost an overly heavy handed approach that falls between an informative hit or a overdone bland miss. This film falls in-between the two. The story of Bobby needs to be told, but I think they made this 20 minutes longer than it should have been. Bobby came across from a early age like he was mentally lost on anything that did not pertain to chess. When you see how his life plays out, you almost feel sorry for him to the point that you wish his mom, when Bobby was at a early age did not seek more help for him than she did. Case in point, his anti semitic stand later on in his life, and he was born from jewish parents. Where his mom was a radical and had a FBI file a mile deep for being a protester and not really knowing who is dad was. You later see what effects these things have on Bobby from his out of control antics during chess championships, or when he talks to the press. The part that showed me how bad the issues ran with Bobby was when he is voicing his opinion on 9/11 saying “it was about time America got what it deserved”. You get the meaning of how disturbed Bobby was coming across when the chess board disappeared and life settled in. You get to see a good look at this human being at the peak of his celebrity when Bobby challenges Boris Spassky in 1972 for the World Chess Championship. From Bobby’s constant bitching about the winner purse being too small, to it being held in Iceland and that place was not big enough for him, to just anything from tv camera’s are distracting him to his opponent would be cheating. You just are left to think that Bobby lived in this bubble, and no one could reach out to him or talk to him, and soon enough not even chess could speak to him. He had no friends, and the only girl he fell for was later in life and the way that played out was not too good for either of them. The Championship of Chess..They go in detail about this best of 25 game series. It runs a little over 30 minutes for that one part alone. For me, they could have cut a lot of the nonsense and people who were just talking to talk out of it, and made it flow so much better. The way it came across was clunky and people just wanting a moment to speak about anything to say they made it to the dvd. That was my main problem with this heavy handed, almost a nice smear job on the legacy of Bobby, that this story comes acoss in a very boring approach that at times, made the material seem less appealing. This film is basically told thru the eyes of the people who knew Bobby, from his bodyguard to chess authors.
You watch this film and the first thing you ask yourself is what price is genius. Someone who can master a board game, but embarasses anyone who engages in conversation with him. To him walking around talking to himself to the point that sanity has left his life. This film also talks briefly about the chess boom that started from Bobby and his going to the championship in Iceland. At the end, it was tragic and ultimately sad this story but it was also so long winded at times and took me out of the suspense by over selling the situations. A little in a film with this subject goes a long way. I did not hate this film, and if you love Chess as much as I do, this film would be a good little watch..but as a whole, I would have loved less.
6 out of 10