Generally favorable reviews - based on 12 Critics What's this?

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Universal acclaim- based on 7 Ratings

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  • Summary: Bobby Fischer against the World is a feature documentary that uses the narrative tension of the 1972 match between Boris Spassky and Bobby Fischer to explore the nature of genius, madness, and the game of chess itself. This film tells the stranger-than-fiction story of the rise and fall of an Fischer, a true icon. From veteran filmmaker Liz Garbus, and the final project of late editor Karen Schmeer, Bobby Fischer Against the World exposes the disturbingly high price Fischer paid to achieve his legendary success and the resulting toll it took on his psyche. Rare archival footage and insightful interviews with those closest to him expand this captivating story of a mastermind’s tumultuous rise—and fall. (Dogwoof Films)
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 10 out of 12
  2. Negative: 0 out of 12
  1. Reviewed by: Peter Rainer
    Sep 17, 2011
    For those who love chess, Fischer will probably always be its premier player, a fact his mental illness cannot expunge.
  2. Reviewed by: Shawn Levy
    Sep 15, 2011
    The result is a gripping film about a subject almost too good to be true.
  3. Reviewed by: Dennis Harvey
    Sep 6, 2011
    Assembly is brisk and high-grade, allowing for the variable quality of archival materials.
  4. Reviewed by: Joshua Rothkopf
    Sep 6, 2011
    If this profile is marred slightly by thematic tidiness and a willingness to overglorify the champion's rise (Fischer didn't even write his best-seller, Bobby Fischer Teaches Chess), it still supplies a cracked, conflicted genius trapped in his ceaseless endgame.
  5. Reviewed by: Nev Pierce
    Sep 6, 2011
    A compelling look at the tragic and bizarre life of an enigmatic champion.
  6. Reviewed by: Gary Goldstein
    Sep 22, 2011
    This expertly constructed film follows the curious and tragic life of the troubled chess icon as he went from child prodigy to global legend to paranoid recluse.
  7. Reviewed by: Ray Greene
    Sep 6, 2011
    Garbus' over-reliance on interviews that state rather than dramatize Fischer's excellence makes this a portrait that too often seems more overheard than inhabited.

See all 12 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 2 out of 2
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 2
  3. Negative: 0 out of 2
  1. Sep 10, 2011
    Recommended viewing for chess fans but broader appeal could be limited because the Cold War subtext seems irrelevant now and the movie does not have a dramatic arc so much as a focal point - the 1972 Fischer-Spassky match. The treatment of the buildup to and playing of that match was adequate - particularly noteworthy is footage of Fischer engaged in exercise workouts to gird himself for the grueling intellectual contest to come. However, the film should have pushed the audience to follow more details of the key strategies used - this is ultimately a movie about chess after all. Once the movie moves past Fischer-Spassky, it seems to lose its bid for pathos, although it keeps up with the chronology of Fischer's life, patchy as it becomes due to his reclusiveness. The frequent inclusion of on-camera interviews with various people who knew Fischer or know chess proved a stylistic distraction - more voiceovers would have been better, so that the film could have kept more of its focus on its charismatic subject. Expand
  2. Oct 31, 2011
    Bobby Fischer is arguably the greatest chess player of all time. Even if you do not play chess, you know his name and his accomplishments. However, who exactly is the man who sits in front of the chess board? Director Liz Garbus tackles that subject and shines a light not only on his professional life, but a brighter one on his personal life. Bobby Fischer Against the World tells about one fascinating man who had a gift for playing the complex game of chess. Ever since he was a boy, he loved the game and it is undoubtedly safe to say he became obsessed with it. But with his genius, he paid a heavy price in the other areas of his life. Bobby Fischer thought the world was against him, but come to find out, it was him against himself the entire time. Fischer had a troubled childhood and the game of chess saved his life. It gave him something he could really apply himself to and it certainly paid off. At the age of 15, he became the U.S. Champion and became World Champion when he was just 29 years-old after defeating Boris Spassky during the height of the Cold War. After that, Fischer was seen as a hero by everyone because he was the American who beat the Russian. And the best part is finding out what occurred before and during the matchup. The realization of the destruction Fischer causes within himself while battling with his own demons starts to sink in and show its ugly face. After he becomes the Michael Phelps of his time, Fischer takes a hiatus from chess and refuses to defend his championship. It isnâ Expand