Game Over: Kasparov And The Machine

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Movie Review by Almiro Jorge

Starring: Garry Kasparov
Director: Vikram Jayanti

Can there really be something such as ‘exciting chess’?

Garry Kasparov is undeniably the greatest chess player that the world has ever seen, having won almost every title on the globe. In 1996 he became the first world champion to lose to a computer in a game played with time controls, but later won the match. In 1997, however, the computer (IBM’s “Deep Blue”) defeated him in a rematch.

In this documentary Kasparov entertains the idea that there must have been tampering with the supercomputer whilst the game was being played. The face-off ended with this accusation by a furious Kasparov to the IBM team.

Director Vikram Jayanti uses a tentative, visual approach to documentary filmmaking that turns a chess game, which is cinematically dull, into a compelling war movie. Awesome cinematography by Maryse Alberti (WHEN WE WERE KINGS, HAPPINESS) ensures that you are transfixed for the duration of the film.

The Turk – a machine that is said to have conquered many of its opponents since the 1770’s – is terrifically cut into the film in the form of a black and white oldie with documentary-style footage. The irony, that the machine was actually moved by a person that was placed inside the box, poses the suggestion that IBM had interfered with the computer.

The film is so blatantly overpowered by the theme of conspiracy that it leaves you no room for objective judgement. The arguments are very one-sided and control the viewer with their gripping plot, although an effort is made to create some objectivity through the depiction of Kasparov as egotistical and self-centred.

An eerie score creates the appropriate tension and the resulting suspense keeps the audience absorbed.

This film is well worth a trip to the big screen.

6 out of 6 stars