“EUROVISION SONG CONTEST: THE STORY OF FIRE SAGA”— A Very Funny Crash Course on Eurovision


A Very Funny Crash Course on Eurovision

Amos Lassen

Lars (Will Farrell) is from Iceland and has been obsessed with Eurovision since he was a little boy. (For those of you who do not know since we do not have Eurovision in this country: it’s an annual international song competition, held every year since 1956, with participants from many of the 50 eligible countries (confusingly, some eligible countries are not European, and one is not even a country). Like the Olympics, each country holds internal trials and sends their best delegation to the competition, where an original song is to be performed on live TV and radio. Then people vote on their favorite. Countries cannot vote for themselves; each country awards two sets of points, one set decided by a panel of music industry experts, and the second decided by viewers voting by phone and text. Occasionally the winner achieves success outside of the broadcast area; in 1974 Abba won for Sweden. Celine Dion won for Switzerland. You don’t have to be from the country you’re representing. Some people compete multiple times by singing for different countries. There are a lot of politics. Russia won’t vote for queer performers and China won’t even show them. Jordan won’t show Israeli entries because they don’t recognize it as a country, and neither does Lebanon. Neighboring countries tend to vote for each other; geographical and even political alliances pop up, and reciprocal votes are exchanged. There is a lot of finagling of votes. 2020 was to be the show’s 65th anniversary, with this film’s release set to coincide with it. However, COVID had other plans, and for the first time, the contest was cancelled.

Lars who fell in love with Eurovision the day he first heard Abba sing “Waterloo” and win the contest. Now, many years later, Lars is now a middle-aged man and dreams of participating in and winning the contest. is the same. His father (Pierce Brosnan) has never approved of his obsession and still does not and is even more critical of his son’s “wasted life.” But his Fire Saga bandmate Sigrit (Rachel McAdams) has more than enough enthusiasm and encouragement and in their own heads, they’re already stars even though many do not agree. They’ll never get sent to compete on Eurovision on their own merits, but luckily something happens to tie up literally every other singer-songwriter in the country.

They go to the contest in Scotland they go where they really do not fit and there are several bizarre on-stage theatrics (which apparently are also a real thing – it’s a visual medium, and performers do their utmost to stand out). Iceland becomes basically the laughing stock of Eurovision.

I, personally, love Eurovision with all of its stchick and camp. When I lived in Israel, the country literally shut down when Eurovision was on television and often family feuds erupted as people took sides for their favorites. It was kind of like Oscar Night or the Superbowl in America.

Lars not dreams of Eurovision succession but also of  the approval of his father and obstacles create the story. I don’t remember when Iceland joined Eurovision, but the eastward expansion of the Eurovision broadcast group (today there’s more to Eurovision than the Song Contest…) changed the politics markedly.

The film is entertaining, sublime and ridiculous. It is genuine fun but you must suspend belief. While the film isn’t quite a substitute for the real thing, you will find yourself having a good time watching it.

Lars and Sigrit representing Iceland in the upcoming Eurovision Song Contest are awful. They are, of course, dreadful – – so they should fit right in and their way is blocked by the immensely talented Katiana (Demi Lovato). Now you must understand that the Eurovision Song Contest is so crazy that it is almost impossible to spoof. Nonetheless writers Will Ferrell and Andrew Steele do a great job as does director David Dobkin

 Rachel McAdams is wonderful as a comic lead. So is Dan Stevens as Lemtov,  a Russian ‘Tom Jones’-like contestant singing “Lion of Love” (“Let’s get together; I’m a lion lover; And I hunt for love!“). There are also several wonderful cameo performances

The film makers really do a wonderful job making the music so fitting. Some of the tracks make you think  that there are songs you might vote for. This is a comedy that makes us laughwith humor that isconsistently amusing.

Every number on and off the stage is a filled with sequins, pyrotechnics, and death-defying props, and every song is ridiculously upbeat. This is no place for ballads. The fondness for the competition translates to laughs with, rather than at, its biggest acts and fans. Not everything makes sense but  inaccuracies do not affect the overall enjoyment.

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