Based on true events: In 1972 American chess grandmaster Bobby Fischer (Tobey Maguire) challenges the Soviet grandmaster Boris Spassky (Liev Schreiber) to a chess championship and he captivates the media with his intensity and paranoia as chess becomes a proxy for Cold War politics. Also with Peter Sarsgaard, Michael Stuhlbarg, Lily Rabe and Robin Weigert. Directed by Edward Zwick. Several lines of dialogue are in Russian without translation. [1:56]
SEX/NUDITY 4 - A teen boy arrives home to find a large pair of men's shoes beside the entry door; he kicks the shoes out of the way and he hears his mother moaning in another room and hears laughter before his mother exits a bedroom and is wearing a long robe with a low-cut slip that reveals cleavage and the man is shown wearing a sleeveless undershirt; the boy shouts at them, saying that he hears them having sex every night and for his mother to get out of the apartment (using an F-word). We see a man bare-chested and sitting in bed with as a woman lies next to him under the covers with her bare back showing as the man talks about chess and she says, "Well thanks. It was good for me too" (sex implied), and then he replies, "Yeah thank you" and she sits up (briefly revealing one full butt cheek as the scene ends).
► Film footage shows male surfers in a grainy scene as they surf shirtless. A few women on a beach wear 1960s bikini bra tops that reveal some cleavage and midriffs. A woman on a balcony wears a bikini top with long trousers and we see her navel and some cleavage. A woman wearing a bikini top on a beach bends forward and we see cleavage. A woman wears a bikini top with a miniskirt that bares her midriff. A man wears a long towel from the waist down, revealing his chest.
► A woman among a crowd at an airport tries to kiss a famous chess player but he walks past quickly.
► A man wearing a suit on a beach tells a woman, "I'm thinking of getting rid of my virginity" and the scene ends. A woman meets a man at a phone booth and asks if he wants to lose his virginity tonight, but he says he has to work. A teen boy demands to know where the father he never met is and his mother says it's not important. We hear that a boy's mother ran away across the country with a man and that they are not married. As a priest and another man practice chess, the man says he passed up having sex to practice; the priest says, "I passed up sex for 20 years." A woman watches a chess match on TV and says about the winner, "I took his virginity."
VIOLENCE/GORE 3 - In a scene shown twice, a man rips apart a hotel suite in Iceland, looking for electronic bugs in lamps, telephones, picture frames and other furnishings; the room is trashed and the man flinches at every sound he hears and he hears a light tapping on the door that sounds like loud pounding; in the second scene, his attorney enters, raises his voice for several seconds and then pleads with the man to play chess in a tournament. A chess grandmaster begins checking all of the lamps for electronic bugs and shouts to officials that he knows they are listening; he slams a chessboard and pieces to the floor, kicks over a trash can, and tells a friend who enters the room that everything is fine. At a chess game a man hears buzzing and feels vibration in his office chair, tips it over and spins the wheels; the man demands that the chair be X-rayed and an official shows him two dead flies from the fluorescent light overhead, explaining that this was the buzzing.
► A chess player sits in his suit on a beach after losing a game, analyzing the moves in his head; the next morning, he awakens with his suit covered in sand and sees his chess opponent swimming; as the swimmer walks onto the shore, the first man shouts, "Are you following me? I'm coming for you!"
► A lawyer tells a priest that chess between America and the USSR in the 1970s is World War III and a war of intellect and perception; the priest says that the American player has severe problems in his head. A man says that an American chess grandmaster in 1855 beat all the European grandmasters and committed suicide because of visions and paranoia. A chess player's sister becomes tearful and tells a man that the player is writing crazy letters and a psychiatrist thought them to be paranoid and evidence of delusional psychosis. A chess player wears a paper bag fitted with two eyeholes over his head in public and tells the press at an airport that the Russians can listen to the fillings in one's teeth. We hear that a man believes that the Soviets are watching him through the TV screen in hotel rooms and trying to blow up the plane he rides in. A lawyer cautions a man about inflammatory statements and the man shouts that the lawyer is a spy, demands that their limo stop and he gets out to walk. A chess player says, "You're one of them, aren't you?" and suggests that communists and the KGB got to his lawyer, who is nonplussed by the comment.
► A boy about 6 or 7 plays chess with a man and loses; the boy becomes upset, leaves the table, analyzes the game in his head, he pushes his mother away, sits down again and demands a second game as the scene ends. During a chess game, a man leaves the floor and marches outside the building, where he screams in rage that his opponents are cheating to make him lose and he shouts that he is quitting chess. A priest and a chess player argue very loudly for several seconds about chess. A man is shown in his hotel room and wearing a sleeveless undershirt and trousers while he sweats as he analyses his game and games around him at a chess tournament earlier that day and the scene ends. A Russian man is upset when he loses a chess game to an American; the Russian's handler says that they will tell the press that the loser has the flu. An American chess player says the Russians all get sick, implying that they are faking illness and he says that the Russians have been trying to suppress his superior chess playing since he was a small child. An American says that he will play chess only five feet or farther from the audience, because he can smell their breath and almost hear their thoughts, distracting him. A man demands that a camera be moved back from the playing floor during chess tournament and walks over to glare angrily at reporters in a booth above the floor. A chess player does not show up for a game, demanding to play in a quiet ping-pong room and his opponent finally agrees, telling a handler he will even play the man in the toilet. A chess player shows up late to a crowd roaring with boos and cheers. Before winning a chess game, a Russian tells an American that he does not look well. A man states that another man shot himself in the head (made mistakes in chess) for no reason and another man says it was like suicide. A priest hands an apology letter from a chess player to a lawyer and says, "There's profanity in the first line" (we do not find out what profanity); the lawyer says, "He won't crack. He'll explode." In three scenes a man shouts about Russians and Jews trying to make him lose games and presents lists of demands. A priest says, "I'll pray for his opponents." A man listens to audio tapes of a male speaker instructing that the Russians and the Jews are taking over the world and are America's enemies. A man says, "The Russians kill people," then says that he hears clicking on the line (wiretap) before he hangs up, but there is no tap; he hears Russian voices in the next room and sees shadows moving under the door, but no one is there.
► In 1951 Brooklyn at night, a little boy sees a man in a car outside his window and with a camera taking pictures of his home and the people in it; the boy tells his mother, who warns him against speaking to bad people who support the status quo. A man demands from his lawyer and entourage adequate protection from the press, shouting angrily; he runs from a group of reporters, getting into a cab and riding away from a chess match. A woman's front lawn fills with commotion from cameras and TV news reporters. A man rides in a limo as reporters and cameramen tap continually on the windows to get his attention.
► Vintage film footage shows Russian parades of missiles and tanks, John-John saluting at JFK's funeral, and a brief flash of police with riot gear in California.
► Captions during end credits state that a chess champion's mental health deteriorated after his world championship win, that he forfeited his title and he disappeared; in 1980, a chess champion was sentenced to prison for vagrancy and claimed that he was tortured in prison, then in 1992, he had a rematch with the Russian chess champion in violation of US law and a warrant was issued for his arrest; he entered an insane asylum in Iceland and died there in 2008.
► A man in his twenties is bothered severely by noises at chess games in which he is playing; crackling papers, coughing in the audience, a cigarette stubbed out in an ashtray, the hum of fluorescent lights and the sounds of camera film recording all cause him to flinch and glare angrily. A chess player gets up during games and paces on a hard wood floor to make noise. Men and women at a party speak Russian and discuss communism as a little boy goes to bed and stares at a wall, over-sensitive to any noise, a curtain blown by a draft makes him flinch, as does hissing from a heat radiator and other noises.
PROFANITY 5 - At least 1 F-word, 1 sexual reference, 3 scatological terms, 1 anatomical term, 7 mild obscenities, name-calling (arrogant, bigfoot, crazy, corrupt, conceited, insane, decadent, nutcase, stupid, ridiculous, terrible, tedious, trash), exclamations (shut-up), 1 religious profanity (GD), 2 religious exclamations (Oh My God [whispered], Holy [scatological term deleted]). [profanity glossary]
SUBSTANCE USE - A lawyer says that chess is like morphine for a particular man and that it is destroying the man's brain. A woman drinks from a glass of wine, an unopened bottle of Scotch is seen on a coffee table in a hotel room, a man and a priest drink whiskey in a hotel room, and a man pours and drinks a short glass of whiskey in a hotel room and a priest drinks a short glass of whiskey in a restaurant. A few men and women at a house party smoke cigarettes making large clouds of smoke as they hold glasses of wine, a man smokes a cigarette in a chess club while playing chess with a young boy, a male hand stubs out a cigarette in an ashtray, a large number of male reporters smoke cigarettes and create drifts of smoke in a hotel in several scenes, people smoke outside and the smoke dissipates, men smoke at a press conference and we see smoke drifting, men smoke cigarettes and create thin smoke clouds in a crowded hotel lobby, a man smokes in a park as well as at an airport and in a car and in a hotel living room, a priest lights and smokes a cigarette with another man in a living room, a woman smokes on a motel balcony and in a doorway of a building, two men smoke cigarettes as they watch a chess match from a back room, and a man in an audience holds an unlit cigarette.
DISCUSSION TOPICS - The Cold War, US anti-communist activities, fatherless homes, childhood fears, mental illnesses, obsessions, paranoia, competition, chess as a profession, intelligence, dedication, determination, mental discipline, relationships, friendship, respect, trust.
MESSAGE - Brilliance is sometimes linked with mental illness, and complicated by politics and war.