We are all a bit confused here at Shouting at the Telly. Is a film about a TV show, which we watched on a telly via a streaming service worthy of a review? If it’s about Eurovision…of course it is!
Eurovison Song Contest – The Story of Fire Saga has just “dropped” (as they say in streaming circles) on Netflix. The one thing that lockdown has seen is the rise of the streaming services such as Netflix, Amazon and Disney+. Amazon is the one that I struggle to get my head around. Netflix and Disney are bona fide Hollywood studios, but I seem to have acquired Amazon Prime as it is a bolt on to having my parcels delivered faster. Perhaps other couriers will do the same, although if Parcelforce tried to deliver a film, they would make you wait in all day before you could watch it and Yodel would probably throw the film over the fence and not even bother leaving a card. I also don’t understand Britbox. Everything they seem to offer is on iPlayer or ITV 3 anyway; but we are talking about Netflix.
It’s often been said that “if anyone was going to make a comical look at Eurovision, it would be the Americans”. Ok, no one has ever said that, yet that is what has happened. Writer and star Will Ferrell took the whole process so seriously (did I just say “seriously”…no one ever uses the word “seriously’ about the Eurovision song contest in the UK) that he went to the 2018 final in Lisbon and the 2019 final in Tel Aviv to research it. Apparently, Ferrell’s Swedish wife got him into the contest. I suppose that is like having a fan of Man United or Liverpool introducing you to football for the first time. If someone from the UK had introduced him to it, it would have been with all the enthusiasm of watching Scunthorpe United playing Grimsby Town in a wet mid-week fixture.
The film tells the story of Lars Erickssong (Ferrell) and Sigrit Ericksdottir (McAdams), who form the Icelandic duo, Fire Saga. The crux of the story is that his father (Piers Brosnan) thinks that his son Lars is a failure and so Lars wants to prove him wrong. Fire Saga get through to the finals of Eurovision to represent Iceland due to all the other contenders dying in a mysterious boat accident and we are off on a romp.
Th film has had some sniffy reviews, but if you love Eurovision you will love it. It was made in conjunction with the EBU (who run Eurovision) and there are cameos from a plethora of previous Eurovision winners including Conchita, Loreen and Netta (but no Bucks Fizz). I was expecting Stan Lee to pop up at one point (oh hold on, wrong franchise).
In this fictionalised version of Eurovison, the UK must have won it the previous year (I said it was fictional) as it was being hosted in Edinburgh but the venue, the SSE Hydro in Glasgow, seemed to have moved 56 miles east to the bottom of the George IV Bridge in Edinburgh. I’m guessing there was a grant to film in Scotland or this is a calling card from Nicola Sturgeon to host if we EVER win the contest again.
The hamster wheel set piece was obviously a homage to Ukraine’s 2014 entry, “Tick Tock” (not to be confused with Tik Tok which is a social media platform) and the soundtrack is really very good…in a Eurovison way (probably because they brought a Swede in to write them). The staging looks how Eurovision should look (even down to the slogan “Perfect Harmony”). I do think that Will Ferrell may have used the interval act from the 2016 contest “Love, Love, Peace, Peace” as a check list for some of these touches.
Ok, so a major plot point (the fact that hosting the contest can financially cripple a country) had to be spelt out in a bit of clunky exposition, Piers Brosnan’s Icelandic accent is about as good as his singing in Mama Mia, Graham Norton seemed to have 2 microphones and Spain would never be in the semi finals as they are part of the big 5 and get automatic entry into the finals, but who cares. (Removes Eurovison Anorak). Ok, it could have lost half an hour in its running time, but it’s considerably better (and shorter) than what went out in May as a replacement for this year’s contest. See you next year in Rotterdam!
PS: if you want you learn more about the Icelanders’ obsession/belief in Elves, can I recommend The Almost Nearly Perfect People: Behind the Myth of the Scandinavian Utopia
Eurovision Song Contest – The Story of Fire is available on Netflix