Pawn Sacrifice: Portrait of the Egomaniac as a Young Man


Throughout the paranoid confusion of his life, chess prodigy Bobby Fischer’s mental health was confronted by a perfect storm of nascent megalomania, boisterous pseudo-wartime rhetoric, the pressure of his own chauvinism and the beholding lens of a media machine eager to carve out its own stake in what was quickly recognized as the up-and-coming chess legend of the century. The resulting strain gave his wunderkind personality a skittish, ornery streak as he batted away the press, hurling out accusations of adversarial misconduct with a self-assured petulance that even world leaders were obliged to defer to. A high school dropout, he was sometimes seemingly moved by pecuniary desires; sometimes by the prestige of a “to the victor go the spoils” train of thought — but almost always by pure fanaticism for his game of choice. Fischer was the Achilles of chess: tremendously sensitive, quick to offend, but nigh unstoppable on the warpath, walking the hairline between detestability and immortality. This is the man at the heart of Pawn Sacrifice, as interpreted by director Edward Zwick, starring Tobey Maguire.