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Carlsen’s Biographical Documentary “Magnus”

I recently enjoyed watching this documentary about the world’s top rated, and highly famous chess champion Magnus Carlsen. If you aren’t that into chess you probably haven’t heard the name, but Carlsen is big talk for anyone who knows the chess world even a little.

“Magnus” the movie/documentary tells the story of Carlsen throughout his development as a young chess prodigy, all the way up into his career in his early 20’s. This documentary gives you the undercover story of what’s really involved in becoming the world’s number one in chess. As you would imagine, behind the scenes, there’s a hell of a lot of hard work involved with becoming the best, and natural talent (which obviously Carlsen possesses as well) is no where near enough.

To give you an idea of the documentary, here’s the trailer clip:

Hopefully you can see just from the trailer, that this is a fascinating documentary. In fact, even though it’s difficult for me to be objective, being a chess lover for many years, I’d say that this documentary is interesting enough in its content to even entertain those who are not really even that interested in chess initially.

There’s something inherently fascinating about people with extra high levels of intelligence and IQ. For example, as you see in the above trailer, there’s a part of the documentary which shows some footage of the time when Carlsen goes to Harvard University back in 2013, with the task of going head to head against 10 of the world’s top chess minds, playing all as simultaneous games (A “Simul”), and as just a small added extra challenge, he does this blindfolded! So he’s playing all of those 10 games just in his head, with no board, all at the same time,  against the greatest minds in chess. Guess how many of those games he wins? 10/10. Yeah boy!!!

A lot of the documentary shows Magnus as a young boy, and how he was with his family, and his chess studies. He actually knew very young that he wanted to be the chess champion of the world, and you can see him say it in some of the footage as a young boy. It’s incredible to see someone have such a strong vision for their future, and then turn that vision into a reality.

The documentary does a good job of mixing the footage of both his earlier life and his training leading up to becoming the champion that he’s now so well known as. It also features various big milestones or learning points throughout his career, for example his first world championship match in Chennai, India – against Vishy Anand (now ranked #12 in the world at the time of writing, but who was the current world champ at the time).

Magnus’s journey to the top was not without pain and difficult challenges, as you would expect. We get an insight into the certain kind of loneliness that comes from being at such a high level, and Carlsen is very open about how he’s had to endure and move through this feeling of isolation and the other pressures that come from competing at such a high level.

This is a heart felt, well planned and very well executed documentary, and I personally have to give it 5/5 stars. It’s so well done, and combines the fascinating story of Carlsen’s journey with excellent production which makes it a joy to watch. Chess fan or not, I would consider this an excellent documentary, and well the time.

If you want to keep up to date with Magnus Carlsen’s latest adventures in the chess world, his website is a great resource, and you can see what he’s been up to year after year since 2015 (scroll down a little from the top).

Magnus (2016)

Movie title: Magnus

Movie description: This is the tale of Magnus Carlsen, Chess genius and International Champion. An excellent documentary outlining the struggle and triumph of this young prodigy.

Date published: 2016-11-18

Director(s): Benjamin Ree

Actor(s): Magnus Carlsen, Viswanathan Anand, Garry Kasparov

Genre: Documentary


  • Production
  • Enjoyment


About the Author Nick.E

I consider myself a pretty regular dude, a dude who LOVES his hobbies... Aside from just being darn fun, hobbies have literally kept me going during times of my life that were challenging. I've always found the relatively harmless escape of video games, chess, other commonly played board games and more recently poker, to be an excellent way to spend my time. I hoped you enjoyed my content, and please stop back anytime :)

  • marcus says:

    Great review! Look forward to watching this one.

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