Joined: 09 Feb 2003 Posts: 784 Location: Singapore
Posted: Tue Mar 07, 2006 6:28 am Post subject: Searching for Bobby Fischer
I've been aware of the existence of the film SEARCHING FOR BOBBY FISCHER for several years, ever since I first noticed the laserdisc at the video store , but for some reason, I never bought a copy. Somehow, looking at the poster and cover art, I just did not feel compelled to buy it. When the film was released on DVD , there were many times when I was in the video shop when I took the DVD in hand, but always put it back because I didn't think that I would enjoy the film.
It was only recently, when I was discussing movies with Fair, that Searching for Bobby Fischer came up again. On Fair's strong recommendation, I finally bought a copy of the film on DVD .
Oh boy .... I can't believe that I had missed out on seeing this gem of a film for so many years !
Searching for Bobby Fischer is based on the true life story of Josh Waitzkin , who at the time of the film's release, was the highest-ranked American player under eighteen . It was based on a book written by his father , and was a biographical account of how Josh, at the tender age of seven , became fascinated with chess , and explores Josh's early chess career and his relationship with his sports-writer father.
Playing the role of Josh Waitzkin was young actor Max Pomeranc in his film debut . A highly rated chess player himself at the time of filming , Max brought intelligence and depth to his role as the young chess prodigy , and he was fascinating to watch on screen.
The film is not just about chess , but about relationships and about living life to the fullest . The two key relationships explored by this film are those of Josh and his father and Josh and his teacher. While Frank never stops loving his son, he becomes obsessed by the need to win. This kind of pressure is too much to put on a young boy, no matter how gifted he is. Like Frank, Pandolfini loses sight of his young charge's innocence and age, and tries to mold him into a chess- playing machine. In some sense, the coach is fighting the ghosts of his past through Josh. It isn't until the end of the film that he is finally able to accept and love his student for who he is.
In the hands of director Steven Zaillian and a strong ensemble cast , Searching for Bobby Fisher is a beautifully photographed, sensitively written, and wonderfully acted film . With strong performances not only by young Max Pomeranc , but also by screen veterens Ben Kingsley, Laurence Fishburne and Joe Mantegna , the film is a joy to watch .
Max Pomeranc has one of the most soulful eyes ever seen on big screen , and it is obvious from the way that he plays chess that he is not some young actor faking it .... it is obvious that he loves the game and plays it with intelligence and maturity , and this authenticity was a crucial factor in the success of the film .... the audience could believe that this young boy was the chess master that he strove to become .
The climax of the film was a chess tournament between the young Josh Waitzkin and his equally young opponent , which could not sound more boring on paper, but which played out on screen with such intensity that it surprised me. I never knew that chess could be such a fascinating game , but kudos must go to director Steven Zaillian and Max Pomeranc for bringing to screen such a gripping final scene . Just amazing !
In the end, Searching for Bobby Fischer is a wonderful , inspiring film about choices in life, about keeping true to oneself , and about compassion for others . I was heartened that this was a true story , and deeply encouraged by the life-affirming message that this film had to offer.
If you have yet to watch it , don't wait any longer. I love this film , and recommend it highly.
Haven't seen this in years. I have a VHS copy around somewhere but this definitely deserves to be upgraded to DVD. Hope it has deleted scenes and commentary. Excellent cast and the young actor holds up well in the company of such vetereans as Fishburne and Kinglsey. It interesting that this film is not about an underdog fighting against all odds, as many films that deal with youth and competition, but is the story of a winner that will not allow the competitive spirit of the adults in his life to affect his humanity and sense of fair play. Great message and great performances. Excellent recomendation for those who have not seen it and very relevent in this age of 'win at all costs' madness. _________________ http://www.myspace.com/pazu7
Posted: Wed Mar 08, 2006 8:41 pm Post subject: sfbf
I love this film as a film but it is not very accurate in many ways.The depiction of Bruce Pandolfini is very poor by Ben Kingsley-I know the real Bruce Pandolfini and have talked to him face to face about 5 times at various USCF funtions and Bruce is anything but reserved,formal,and pensive as depicted in the film by Kingsley-my only conclusion was that they wanted to add melodrama in Kingsley's acting to make the film more dramatic.Josh Waitzkin was fortunately well depicted in the film and Max did a great job playing him despite the fact Max hardly played chess before.The scenes of washinton square park is great.Whenever I am in New York I always go there to play because you never know who you will see playing and the ratings typically run from 900 to 2400 in play. SFBF is a great movie if viewed as a story about Josh but it is best to ignore the depictions of Pandolfini as fictions.
That is usually the case in films since they are entertainment. I met the son of a journalist depicted in the film "The Killing Fields" and he explained that in real life the man was considered a bit of an S.O.B.. Seeing as he was the central character in the film they had to soften the character a bit. This is completely typical. Still interesting to find you know the real man. But I was under the impression that Max Pomeranc was actually good at chess. I thougyht I read that in his bio or something. I'll have to look it up. _________________ http://www.myspace.com/pazu7
Joined: 09 Feb 2003 Posts: 784 Location: Singapore
Posted: Thu Mar 09, 2006 1:09 am Post subject:
But I was under the impression that Max Pomeranc was actually good at chess. I thougyht I read that in his bio or something. I'll have to look it up.
Hmmm ... so did I . I read in several reports that they wanted a young actor who could really play as opposed to a seasoned actor who could not play chess in real life at all. Some reports that I read even said that at the time that Max was cast, he was quite a highly ranked Junior player.
Posted: Thu Mar 09, 2006 11:59 am Post subject: Max
According to what I remember Max was rated liked 1600 at the time of the film in his chess play which is nothing remarkable-but I am trying to remember back like 15 years.As far as I know he never did anything much with his play and he is not known in chess circles.His acting career seems also to have fallen off as this movie seems to be his largest and best appearence.
Perhaps his playing wasn't remarkable, but that rather different from saying he hardly played before. He was supposedly the only person in the cast who knew how to play and was quite good at it even if no competition for the real Josh. "Searching..." was his first film, his biggest film according to what the little bit I've been able to find, and his interest in acting dimished as he grew older and that is why his carreer dropped off. Same thing apparently happened with the kid in Communion. He was intellitgent and everyone said he worked well, but his heart wasn't in it. I did find this little trivia page on the film. _________________ http://www.myspace.com/pazu7
Posted: Thu Mar 09, 2006 9:35 pm Post subject: SFBF
My knowledge was something I read in Chess Life-they had a sfbf cover soon after the movie so fans may want to get it.No,I never got to talk to Pandolfini about the film or about Max,I meet him before he became a literally over night star-Give you a idea,Bruce use to teach chess lessons for like 40.00 a hour in the 1980's-after the film my coach told me that he tried to contact Bruce for a session on endgame work and his going rate was 400.00 a hour back in 1995! Pandolfini and Josh are rated at around 2400 making them International Masters.As for me,my play still sits at a dismal 1730 level but I love the game and still work with a coach.By the way,Bruce is one of the nicest people you will ever meet but the days when Bruce comes and knocks on your sons door to teach chess are long gone-my guess is Bruce has about 80 students at any given time but if you want a one one with him I would guess he would meet you at the Marshall chess club on a thursday night for a hour session for 300.00$ so it might be something to consider while in New York.
Posted: Thu Mar 09, 2006 9:45 pm Post subject: SFBF
Almost forgot,if you like the film read the book by Josh's father Fred.The book sfbf is much different from the film.The rival Josh plays in the film is a kid named Sawyer.In the film he is shown as a arrogant rich kid but the real Sawyer was a sad kid from a large homeless family that lived out of a car! also,the treatment Josh got in Russia is terrible to read about-the KGB were spying on Josh when he was like 12-Fred in fact found Josh sleeping curled up under a stairweel just to get away from the Kgb who wired his room and followed him everywhere.Fred deserves alot of credit in the book for showing his human side and his faults sometimes admitting to living through his son,pumping Pandolfini full of cash and pushing Josh a bit to hard but behind all of this is also a genuine love between a father and son and a very tight knit family.
Great info. Thanks. I don't think I'll be spending any money on chess lessons. I play rather poorley and very rarely, and will prbably do so until I pass from this world. _________________ http://www.myspace.com/pazu7
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