For films centered on the game of chess, the challenge is to capture the bounce and pulse across a boundary in the scenes that must be created through the playing field. Even though there are games that can be completed in a matter of minutes at lightning speed, the chess grid on which the game takes place is very small.
The amount of time it takes players to strategically execute the moves of a two-player game is a great visual challenge! The slowness of player movements cannot be consistently overcome with a ‘time lapse’ strategy. Doing so and showing the chess board itself can make the audience tired.
To overcome this dilemma, chess-centric movies require a bit more ‘dramatism’ for the screenplay when depicting the personal lives of the main characters.
Moreover, the tradition of thinking that sees the game of chess as an allegory of human life gives this dramatization a grip. Accessing chess cinemas from this background can give a seamless screen experience.
The ‘off beat’ chess films made in USA, Russia and France are not interesting. The 5 chess movies introduced in this article are not an exhaustive list. These can be taken as ‘off beat’ choices, measuring how much importance is given to the chess game in the screenplay along with the content, cinematography and screen experience.
Life of a King: Based on a true story, the American film ‘Life of a King’ released in 2014 with a ‘biopic’ nature.
A man who just got out of prison after spending two decades in prison for a crime committed as a youth teaches the chess techniques he learned in prison to wayward students, helping them find meaning and purpose in life.
The film follows one of his trained students, Dahim, who honorably loses to the US Grandmaster Champion and receives accolades. The film is directed by Jake Goldberger, writer and director of many quality feature films.
Searching for Bobby Fisher: The film is about his life, from his conflict with his teacher who taught him the right way to chess, to how he finds his own style and rises to become a world champion. Directed by Steven Zelian and starring Hollywood’s best actors, ‘Searching for Bobby Fisher’ is a must-have on any list of chess movies.
The Lush’s Defense: Dutch female director Marlene Cories has shown that love and chess can be combined to create an epic. A crisis develops when Alexander Ivanovich Lushin has to play with Leo Valentina, the Russian teacher who taught him chess. The film is about whether Lush lost love or victory in this fierce battle. This chess romantic epic was released in 2000 and became a box office hit.
Dangerous Moves: The film ‘Dangerous Moves’, written and directed by Richard Tempo in French, is about how the ideologies of both collide in the final match between Akiva and Pavius. A nail-biting thriller, the film won the Best Foreign Language Film award in 1984, competing at the Swiss Oscars.
Queen of Gateway: ESPN Based on an article published in the magazine, this film was released in 2016 and produced by Walt Disney, with William Wheeler writing the screenplay. Watch on the Disney Plus Hot Star site. It ‘checks’ your eyes so that they don’t move anywhere.
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