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Bobby Fischer Against The World (2011)



Average Rating: 7.6/10
Critic Reviews: 10
Fresh: 10 | Rotten: 0

No consensus yet.



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Average Rating: 3.8/5
User Ratings: 1,622

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Movie Info

Considered by many to be the greatest chess player to ever live, Bobby Fischer Against the World is the first and definitive documentary biography of the eccentric genius who rose from humble beginnings and captivated a world audience with his victory over Russia's Boris Spassky at the height of the Cold War. His trajectory propelled him from child prodigy to US champion at age 15 and world champion at 29. Quixotically refusing to defend his championship, Fischer became a virtual recluse for


Documentary, Drama, Special Interest

Dec 5, 2011

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All Critics (46) | Top Critics (10) | Fresh (39) | Rotten (6) | DVD (2)

A once-in-a-lifetime character makes for a fascinating documentary subject in producer-director Liz Garbus' "Bobby Fischer Against the World."

September 22, 2011 Full Review Source: Los Angeles Times
Los Angeles Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Liz Garbus's documentary about the great American chess champion Bobby Fischer does its level best to avoid the easy cliché equating madness and genius, except that, in the case of Fischer, the cliché apparently holds up.

September 16, 2011 Full Review Source: Christian Science Monitor
Christian Science Monitor
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Tactfully but strongly posits a connection between the genius he brought to an infinitely complex game and the madness that defined his relationship to just about everything else.

September 8, 2011 Full Review Source: New York Times
New York Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Supplies a cracked, conflicted genius trapped in his ceaseless endgame.

September 7, 2011 Full Review Source: Time Out New York
Time Out New York
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Garbus handles this decline with tact. The sorry spectacle of the ranting codger never effaces the image of the boy concentrating his entire being over a chessboard. You have to love that kid and pity him.

September 6, 2011 Full Review Source: Village Voice
Village Voice
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Overall, the film lacks that precise hook of exactly why it's worth telling this story now, but it remains a fascinating story nonetheless.

July 12, 2011 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

An affective portrait of an intense, obsessed man and a tense, twisty, and occasionally inspiring narrative surrounding the Fischer-Spassky match.

February 3, 2012 Full Review Source: Movie Metropolis
Movie Metropolis

Absorbing documentary biopic on the former world chess champion Bobby Fischer.

January 2, 2012 Full Review Source: Ozus' World Movie Reviews
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

Tackles the iconoclastic nature of its subject both personally and professionally, making a persuasive, emotionally involving case for the dark, troubled flipside of genius.

September 29, 2011 Full Review Source:

A gripping film about a subject almost too good to be true.

September 15, 2011 Full Review Source: Oregonian

at once the director's most accomplished and entrancing film to date

September 8, 2011 Full Review Source:

This is strong and effective documentary filmmaking, but it's only a lengthy prologue to the story on which Liz Garbus clearly wants to focus.

September 4, 2011 Full Review Source: Slant Magazine
Slant Magazine

Garbus tells his story with aplomb, placing it in the greater context of the Cold War, and also examining the human toll and anguish Fischer brought upon himself.

August 17, 2011 Full Review Source: Quickflix

What sets this film aside from being a conventional biographical account of Fischer's life and career, is when it examines the nature of genius and why Fischer was so unpredictable, erratic and eventually intensely paranoid.

August 13, 2011 Full Review Source: Cinema Autopsy
Cinema Autopsy

This is an utterly compelling insight into modern history, psychology, international politics and boardgame warfare.

August 12, 2011 Full Review Source: Birmingham Mail
Birmingham Mail

Garbus's portrait of Fischer as a lonely child and a monomaniacal young chess player becomes a portrait of his times as well...

July 20, 2011 Full Review Source: Flick Filosopher
Flick Filosopher

The film may stick to the standard rise-and-fall story arc, but it does pull together a lot of fascinating archival material.

July 18, 2011 Full Review Source: Scotsman

[A] fascinating but rather low-key documentary...

July 17, 2011 Full Review Source: Observer [UK]
Observer [UK]

It's a sad story of genius paying for the gift.

July 15, 2011 Full Review Source: Independent

It's a life so incredible and so tragic that even those with no knowledge of chess will be enthralled.

July 15, 2011 Full Review Source: Daily Mirror [UK]
Daily Mirror [UK]

A fascinating, darkly humorous but ultimately disturbing portrait of troubled genius.

July 15, 2011 Full Review Source: Daily Express
Daily Express

Audience Reviews for Bobby Fischer Against The World

When I was in college, I would occasionally play a friend in chess. And he admitted he had a hard time playing me, because of my strategy. I didn't have one, so he could not see ahead what I was going to do. Luckily, the documentary "Bobby Fischer Against the World" has a lot to say on the subject of chess strategy, so I was able to learn a thing or two for possible future reference.

At the top of the chess pantheon was Bobby Fischer, chessmaster and one time world champion, who was able to play entire games in his head and could outplay almost any other opponent. Sadly, that also included himself, as that same monomania which made him so successful at chess, made him that much less successful as a human being.(There is an intriguing chicken vs. egg debate here concerning his mental illness.) Later in life and post fame, he retains his intelligence to antagonize everybody he encounters with his own brand of twisted and bigoted logic while losing his mind.

Centered as the documentay is around the 1972 Chess World Championship versus Boris Spassky, who is still very much alive, oh by the way, Cold War politics come into play.(This chess match was apparently a very huge deal. I love the newscasts of the day that would go - "Watergate...McGovern...but first chess...) But to counter something said in the film, yes, the Soviet state supported its athletes, but they were not professional in the way we think of them today. Rather, they were probably allowed to live in a pretty nice apartment and did not have to stand on line for food.
December 19, 2012
Walter M.

Super Reviewer

Fascinating doc. Lots of great footage of Fischer going back to when he was 15 years old.
September 19, 2011

Super Reviewer

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