Chess, as a game, is not all that interesting to watch. It's like golf, and sometimes like baseball, in that this is something you'd rather do, than watch done. However, filmmakers have been successful in transforming a relatively quiet board game into an intriguing film. These six chess movies will have you right there with the players because they're good movies, not just good movies about the game of chess.
"Game Over: Kasparov and the Machine"
This Vikram Jayanti film may well appeal to science fiction movie buffs. It involves a computer named Deep Blue. Who or what is Deep Blue, you ask? Glad you did. Deep Blue is a chess playing IBM computer that is followed taking on Garry Kasparov, the highest rated chess player in history and world champion for a full 15 years. This 2003 documentary, which was co-produced by Alliance Atlantis and National Film board of Canada, looks on to see what happens when it's man versus machine.
Want to hear a huge challenge? Try making a musical about the game chess. Yep, this is exactly what Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus (the dude that makes up half of ABBA) did. They wrote the music while Tim Rice made up the words. It's all about a romantic triangle (aren't most romantic moves about that?) between two highly rated chess players, one Russian and one American, and a pretty woman, of course. It all takes place during the Cold War. Hey, but at least chess matches don't feature nuclear bombs, right?
"Searching For Bobby Fischer"
No, this film is not about the face of a chess champion on the side of a milk carton. Instead, it's the story about a young chess player with great skills. The family hires a strict instructor, played by Ben Kingsley, who encourages the young man to be an aggressive player in the mold of Bobby Fischer. The boy is also influenced by a chess hustler (yes, that's right, a chess hustler) he meets in Washington Square Park, played by Laurence Fishbourne. The crux of the film has to do with this young player, named Josh, and the chess style he ultimately chooses to apply.
"The Seventh Seal"
To call "The Seventh Seal" merely a chess movie, would be unjust. This classic Ingmar Bergman film, set during the Black Death, follows the life of a medieval knight, played by Bergman favorite Max von Sydow. This knight must play a chess match with a personification of Death who has come to take him away. This sounds a lot like a Metallica song. Heck, it sounds just like every Metallica song.
This Pixar five-minute short was released in 1997. It's so good, it won an Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film in 1998. It has the odd plot of an elderly man playing chess against himself. And just think, this was made for kids! Pixar is so good at what they do, though, they can make almost any subject worth watching. In fact, five minutes is probably not long enough. This one leaves you wanting more.
"The Luzhin Defence"
The "Luzhin Defence" is a 2000 movie starring John Turturro and Emily Watson about a tormented chess champion and the pretty girl he meets while playing in an Italian tournament. This screenplay adapted a Vladimir Nabokov novel and was so well acted that Watson was nominated for best actress by the British Independent Film Awards and the London Film Critics Circle Awards for her role in the film.