Saturday 4 July 2020

Eurovision Song Contest: The Story Of Fire Saga

Eurovision Song Contest: The Story Of Fire Saga

Anyone who's watched Eurovision in the last few years will know the competition has changed. What the UK once saw as a joke is now a much more serious music competition full of genuine talent, though some of that camp and flamboyance certainly remains.

So the news of a Will Ferrell comedy film rings alarm bells for Eurovision fans for whom the contest is serious business. What to some seems an obvious fit is to others a worrying piss-take.

The plot at least aims to hit the right notes. Ferrell plays Lars Erickssong who, from a young age, has dreamt of performing at Eurovision for Iceland with his (could be, probably not sister) musical partner Sigrit Ericksdóttir (Rachel McAdams). Together they are the musical duo Fire Saga who, through a series of unpredictable events, predictably have their dreams come true. At its core it follows a similar thread to Ferrell's biggest success Elf, with Lars aiming to please his grumpy, ashamed father (Pierce Brosnan). But really it's Sigrit's story of self-confidence that grips.

Of course, it's all a parody of Eurovision that picks up on the worst, most humorous parts of the competition. There are viking costumes, terrible accents and stereotypes, and Dan Stevens playing an operatic Russian entrant who's song "Lion Of Love" is camp Eurovision to a T. The film turns a well-produced globally loved show into a Pitch Perfect spin-off - there's even a "song-a-long" moment, though this can be excused for its multiple cameos from actual Eurovision contestants like Loreen, Conchita Wurst and Netta amongst others.

Yet despite some grating moments, there's still something loveable about it all. Perhaps it's the small town story: Iceland have indeed never won the contest and, despite the silliness, we do love an underdog story.

Perhaps it's the music. Written by Icelandic film composer Atli Örvarsson, plus writing and production by pop producer Savan Kotecha, the music is full of infectious Europop. There may be some purposefully terrible moments, but these wouldn't be out of place at Eurovision. "Lion of Love" would probably win.

Or perhaps it's Rachel McAdams, who's living her Björk fantasy and somehow maintains a straight face throughout the film. Her singing voice has been merged with 2006 Swedish Junior Eurovision contest Molly Sandén, and the final big number is a genuine delight.

There are plenty of flaws for Eurovision fanatics to pick over. The film is not faithful at all to the rules of the contest, the opening scene shows ABBA's 1974 win despite Iceland not broadcasting the contest until 1983, and the host city is Edinburgh despite the UK not previously winning. Ferrell was apparently seen researching at the last couple of contests, though he's taken plenty of liberties here.

For all its parody, though, Eurovision Song Contest: The Story Of Fire Saga is a loving tribute to Eurovision that makes for perfect popcorn entertainment, even if it's not quite douze points.


Watch: Eurovision Song Contest: The Story Of Fire Saga is available to watch now on Netflix.