Film Review: Eurovision Song Content: The Story of Fire Saga (2020)
Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga (2020) is a Netflix musical comedy set around the competition known as Eurovision. Directed by David Dobkin, this film stars Will Ferrell, Rachel McAdams and Dan Stevens. When an incident occurs, Lars (Ferrell) and Sigrid (McAdams) find themselves in the position of being the Swedish representative for the Eurovision Song Contest, where their friendship is put through the test.
I am a fan of Eurovision and have been so for much of my life. If there is anything that this film got right, it is the spirit and heart of the competition. Whilst American audiences may think that the film is crazy in the visuals and costumes, it is a great representation of what the competition is. One year you may have a heavy metal band winning, the next year a drag queen. This film knew how to handle the theme and did it justice, even bringing some beloved Eurovision winners in.
In a year like this with a much shorter amount of films, I could see a campaign going to get a Best Original Song nomination in from this film. Despite the humourous tone of the film overall, the songs here are actually really well made. Not only are they fun and fitting for Eurovision, but I enjoyed the variety that they offered. From the smaller details in giving each country their own songs, choreography and visuals (which all sounded and looked great as well) to the focus on Fire Saga and their music, there was not one bad song in this film. I know I have been hooked on “Jaja Ding Dong” like the rest of you have.
The film does take some time to get into, but it is the relationship between the two lead characters Lars and Sigrit that brings a surprisingly sweet narrative to this crazy world. I particularly love the community that they build in the Sweden sequences, particularly linked to the bar that all of their family and friends hang out in and how their feelings towards the music shifts throughout the film. There are some world-building aspects of the film that annoyed me, but that was based on my love for Eurovision being able to spot errors as well as being in the home country of where the competition is being held. To give context, they make a joke in the film that the UK never wins anymore (which is true and was a fantastic line). However, the competition is then held in Scotland, implying as they do in the film that Scotland, or the UK, won the last year. It also frustrated me that they set the film in Edinburgh, but clearly used the Glasgow airport and venue to host the competition. Yes, these are small minor details that most audiences won’t pick up on, but it was bizarre to see for myself regardless.
Whilst the idea of Eurovision in itself is over the top and crazy, the film sometimes takes that idea and goes even further than it perhaps should. Some of the jokes do not land at all and it can feel more like a parody, which I am surprised is even possible for a competition like this. Be prepared for what sort of film this is, because you do have to be patient to begin and get settled into the humour and style to get to the good moments near the end. There is also a fantasy element, which for a film like this does not work except to explain certain narrative moments. If it was a case of leaving it to the audience to decide if it was real or not, I think it would have worked a lot better than the way it is executed here.
This film has several storylines that run throughout the film, and some of them are actually quite dark which I appreciated. There is one storyline that goes behind the scenes of picking a contestant for Eurovision, and it is engaging. However, they try and make this part a twist where the audience is meant to be shocked at what really happened behind the scenes. This twist is completely obvious from the moment it occurs, and therefore the big reveal does not work in the slightest. It is a shame, because I liked how they tried to make a darker story out of something that appears to be innocent.
When I first clicked play on the film, I nearly clicked off after ten minutes. However, if you are patient and give the film time to settle into the over-the-top humour and truly get to the spirit of Eurovision and the film, it becomes quite an enjoyable watch. Regardless of where you are from, there is some fun and a surprising amount of heart to this story and it is worth a watch.
Have you checked out Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga yet? What did you make of this, and how much did you know about Eurovision before the film? Let me know your thoughts in the comments section and let’s have a discussion.