Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga
Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga is a 2020 American musical comedy film directed by David Dobkin and written by Will Ferrell and Andrew Steele. The film follows Icelandic singers Lars Erickssong and Sigrit Ericksdóttir (Ferrell and Rachel McAdams) as they are given the chance to represent their country at the Eurovision Song Contest. Pierce Brosnan, Dan Stevens, and Demi Lovato also star.
|Eurovision Song Contest: |
The Story of Fire Saga
Promotional film poster
|Directed by||David Dobkin|
|Music by||Atli Örvarsson|
|Edited by||Greg Hayden|
The Story of Fire Saga was initially scheduled for a May 2020 release to coincide with the Eurovision Song Contest 2020. However, after the 2020 Eurovision contest was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the film was released a month later, on June 26, on Netflix. It received mixed reviews from critics.
In the small town of Húsavík, Iceland, Lars Ericksson and Sigrit Ericksdóttir, best friends since childhood, make music together as the band Fire Saga, much to the dismay of Lars' widowed father, Erick. Lars has one dream: to win the Eurovision Song Contest. The pair apply and are randomly selected to take part in Söngvakeppnin, the Icelandic pre-selection for Eurovision. Sigrit, who believes in the old Icelandic tradition of elves, asks them to help them in the contest in the hope that, if they win, Lars will finally return her romantic feelings for him.
Due to technical difficulties, Fire Saga's performance is a disaster, and the talented Katiana Lindsdóttir wins the pre-selection. Lars, dejected, declines to attend the boat party thrown for all the finalists and sits disappointed on the dock as Sigrit tries to comfort him. The boat suddenly explodes, killing everyone on board. Fire Saga, as the only surviving contestants, automatically become Iceland's entry to the 2020 Eurovision Song Contest.
Lars and Sigrit arrive in Edinburgh, Scotland, where Eurovision is being held. Once there, they struggle with a new remix of their song and Lars' desire for an elaborate stage design. They meet Alexander Lemtov, a Russian singer who is the favorite to win the contest. He invites them to a party at his house, attended by a number of real former Eurovision contestants, where he introduces Lars and Sigrit to the Greek contestant Mita Xenakis. Alexander and Sigrit spend the night together, as do Lars and Mita (although neither pair has sex). This creates tensions within Fire Saga, and almost derails their plans for the semifinal. Lars overhears Sigrit working on a new song in their hotel room and wrongly assumes it is a love song for Alexander. Katiana's ghost appears to Lars and warns him that his life is in danger; he ignores her.
Fire Saga reconcile before the semifinals. The performance of their song "Double Trouble" initially goes very well, but is derailed by an accident involving Sigrit's scarf and a giant hamster wheel. They recover and finish the song, but are met with deafening silence and scattered laughter. Thinking that Fire Saga have become a laughingstock, they exit the stage. Lars, humiliated, refuses to go and sit with the other artists to await the rankings, feeling that there is no chance for Fire Saga. Sigrit pleads with him to stay, put on a brave face, and not let Iceland down, even though she, too, believes they lost. Angry, and thinking that Sigrit wrote the new song for Alexander, Lars says something dismissive about the song. Sigrit then tells him that she wrote it for him. Lars is stunned; nevertheless, he returns to Iceland. However, as Sigrit learns to her surprise, Fire Saga actually is voted through to the finals.
Lars returns to Húsavík, unaware of Fire Saga's advancement in the contest. Out on a fishing boat, he talks with his father and confesses his love for Sigrit, and Erick tells him to go back and fight for her love. However, both are unaware that Iceland is in the finals. When they are told, they both are deeply shocked. Lars jumps off the boat and swims to shore.
On his way to Reykjavík, Victor Karlosson (governor of the Central Bank of Iceland, and one of the Icelandic organisational team members) attempts to murder Lars and reveals he blew up the boat at Söngvakeppnin, as Iceland is bankrupt and cannot afford to host Eurovision the following year if Fire Saga wins. Luckily, unseen elves save Lars by killing Victor.
Lars makes it to the grand finale just in time to perform, after hitchhiking with some initially unwilling American tourists, whom he subjects to comments containing negative stereotypes of Americans. Katiana's ghost appears to warn Lars, but he informs her that the man who tried to kill him killed everyone on the boat is dead. Interrupting the beginning of Sigrit's song, he encourages her to ditch their official entry and perform the song she has written for him, "Húsavík". Watching at home, their friends and families are all touched, discovering that the song is an not only an ode to their town, featuring lyrics in Icelandic and a stunning finale, but a beautiful song that grips the entire auditorium. Erick watches the contest proudly with Sigrit's mother, Helka. Alexander, who is revealed to be gay, bemoans the fact that his country does not accept homosexuality, and considers the possibility of moving to Greece with Mita. Fire Saga are disqualified for changing their song during the contest, but both Lars and Sigrit have lost interest in winning the competition, realizing that their relationship is more important. On stage, they share their first kiss, finally giving in to the feelings they have long had for each other.
Fire Saga returns home, where they are greeted with a hero's welcome. Some time later, Lars and Sigrit have had a baby, and Erick and Helka have just got married. Fire Saga performs at their wedding reception in the local bar, with the American tourists in attendance (which Lars again hammers with negative stereotypes, but which the Americans think is just an attempt at humor). The band offers to play their Eurovision song, but everyone just wants to hear the local favorite folk song, "JaJa Ding Dong".
- Will Ferrell as Lars Erickssong, a middle-aged man with aspirations of winning the Eurovision Song Contest
- Alfie Melia as Young Lars
- Rachel McAdams as Sigrit Ericksdóttir, Lars' bandmate and long-time best friend, who wishes for a romantic relationship with him
- Dan Stevens as Alexander Lemtov, a flamboyant singer representing Russia[a]
- Erik Mjönes sings all Alexander Lemtov's songs
- Mikael Persbrandt as Victor Karlosson, governor of the Central Bank of Iceland, who doesn't want Iceland to win the contest
- Pierce Brosnan as Erick Erickssong, Lars' disapproving widowed father
- Ólafur Darri Ólafsson as Neils Brongus, president of RÚV, Iceland's national public service broadcaster
- Melissanthi Mahut as Mita Xenakis, another contestant, representing Greece
- Joi Johannsson as Jorn, a member of the Icelandic Eurovision committee
- Björn Hlynur Haraldsson as Arnar, a policeman who has a crush on Sigrit
- Demi Lovato as Katiana Lindsdóttir, winner of Söngvakeppnin
- Graham Norton as himself, a Eurovision commentator
- Jamie Demetriou as Kevin Swain, head of Iceland's creative team
- Elina Alminas as Corin Vladvitch, the Eurovision host
- Jon Kortajarena as Sasha More, the Eurovision host
- Alfrun Rose as Anna, a member of the Icelandic Eurovision committee
- Elín Petersdóttir as Helka, Sigrit's mother
- Christopher Jeffers as Johnny John John, a rapper representing Sweden
- Rebecca Harrod as Brittny, one of the American tourists
- Josh Zaré as Bill, one of the American tourists
- Bobby Lockwood as Jeff, one of the American tourists
- Eleanor Williams as Jenn, one of the American tourists
- Jóhannes Haukur Jóhannesson as Johans, male host of Söngvakeppnin
- Natasia Demetriou as Nina, a crew member at the contest
- Hannes Óli Ágústsson as Olaf Yohansson, a resident of Húsavík, who is obsessed with a local folk song called "Jaja Ding Dong".
- William Lee Adams as himself, a Eurovision commentator.
Several former contestants of the Eurovision Song Contest made cameos in the film:
- John Lundvik – Swedish representative in 2019
- Anna Odobescu – Moldovan representative in 2019
- Bilal Hassani – French representative in 2019
- Loreen – Swedish winner of the 2012 contest
- Jessy Matador – French representative in 2010
- Alexander Rybak – Norwegian winner of the 2009 contest & representative in 2018
- Jamala – Ukrainian winner of the 2016 contest
- Elina Nechayeva – Estonian representative in 2018
- Conchita Wurst – Austrian winner of the 2014 contest
- Netta – Israeli winner of the 2018 contest
Other special appearances include:
Will Ferrell was introduced to Eurovision in 1999 by his Swedish wife, actress Viveca Paulin. Sweden happened to win that year with the song "Take Me to Your Heaven", which Ferrell mentions as a reason he became smitten with the competition.
In May 2018, in preparation for the film, Ferrell attended the final of the Eurovision Song Contest 2018 in Lisbon, Portugal, to research possible characters and scenarios for the film. He also spoke backstage with Eurovision contestants. On June 18, 2018, it was announced that Ferrell would star, co-write and produce a film inspired by the Eurovision Song Contest. The film would be distributed by Netflix.
In March 2019, David Dobkin signed on to direct the film. In May 2019, Rachel McAdams joined the cast. McAdams and Ferrell were spotted at the dress rehearsals of the Eurovision Song Contest 2019 in Tel Aviv, Israel, the stage of which was rebuilt on a soundstage in London for the in-contest scenes, while plate shots were done with the real-life live audience in Tel Aviv. In August 2019, Pierce Brosnan, Dan Stevens, and Demi Lovato, among others, joined the cast, with filming commencing in Edinburgh and Glasgow, Scotland, and in Iceland. Ferrell was pictured filming scenes at both the SSE Hydro, in Glasgow itself, and Glasgow Airport, in Abbotsinch, Paisley, in October 2019. Filming also took place at Warner Bros. Studios, Leavesden in England making it the second Netflix feature to be filmed there, the first having been Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle.
The actors put on an Icelandic accent for the film. They trained with dialect coaches and McAdams studied videos of Icelandic singer Björk. Tabitha and Napoleon D'umo (known for So You Think You Can Dance) oversaw the choreography.
Production costs in Iceland were $3.6 million, out of which the Icelandic government paid close to a million dollars as a part of the country's movie production incentives. Knebworth House was used for the exterior shots of Alexander Lemtov's British house in the film.
|Eurovision Song Contest: |
The Story of Fire Saga
(Music from the Netflix Film)
|Released||June 26, 2020|
|Singles from Eurovision Song Contest: |
The Story of Fire Saga
(Music from the Netflix Film)
The soundtrack album for the film was released digitally on June 26, 2020 and the CD release followed on August 21, 2020. "Volcano Man" was the first song released from the album and features vocals from Will Ferrell and Swedish singer Molly Sandén (credited as My Marianne). According to Netflix, Sandén's vocals were mixed with McAdams' own voice for the tracks. In a separate phone call with Vanity Fair, Eurovision's music producer, Savan Kotecha, said that Sandén and McAdams' "tones worked so well together" that, in playing back certain tracks, he had a hard time differentiating between the vocals.
|1.||"Double Trouble (Tiësto's Euro 90s Tribute Remix)" (performed by Will Ferrell, Molly Sandén and Tiësto)||2:28|
|2.||"Lion of Love" (performed by Erik Mjönes)||Kotecha||2:47|
|3.||"Coolin' with da Homies" (performed by Savan Kotecha)||Rami||1:26|
|4.||"Volcano Man" (performed by Will Ferrell and Molly Sandén)||1:21|
|5.||"Jaja Ding Dong" (performed by Will Ferrell and Molly Sandén)||1:37|
|6.||"In the Mirror" (performed by Demi Lovato)||Jörgen Elofsson||2:48 |
|7.||"Happy" (performed by Will Ferrell and Molly Sandén)||Pharrell Williams||1:26|
|8.||"Song-A-Long: "Believe", "Ray of Light", "Waterloo", "Ne partez pas sans moi", and "I Gotta Feeling"" (performed by Cast)||Alana da Fonseca||3:18|
|9.||"Running with the Wolves" (performed by Courtney Jenaé and Adam Grahn)||1:10|
|10.||"Fool Moon" (performed by Anteros)||Charlie Andrew||3:26|
|11.||"Hit My Itch" (performed by Antonio Sol, David Loucks, Taylor Lindersmith, and Nicole Leonti)||2:04|
|12.||"Come and Play (Masquerade)" (performed by Petra Nielsen)||Thomas G:son||G:son||3:08|
|13.||"Amar pelos dois" (performed by Salvador Sobral)||Luísa Sobral||L. Sobral||3:05|
|14.||"Husavik" (performed by Will Ferrell and Molly Sandén)||Fat Max Gsus||3:22|
|15.||"Double Trouble (Film Version)" (performed by Will Ferrell and Molly Sandén)||2:54|
|16.||"Eurovision Suite" (performed by Atli Örvarsson)||Örvarsson||Örvarsson||6:19|
|Australian Albums (ARIA)||44|
|Belgian Albums (Ultratop Flanders)||64|
|Icelandic Albums (Tónlist)||2|
|Norwegian Albums (VG-lista)||13|
|Swedish Albums (Sverigetopplistan)||8|
|UK Soundtrack Albums (OCC)||1|
|US Billboard 200||170|
|US Soundtrack Albums (Billboard)||5|
The Story of Fire Saga was digitally released by Netflix on June 26, 2020. In its first weekend, the film was the top-streamed item on Netflix in the United States and reached the No. 1 ranking position in multiple other regions as well. In its second weekend it fell to number eight on the site.
On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 64% based on 167 reviews, with an average rating of 5.85/10. The site's critics consensus reads: "Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga contains inspired ingredients and laugh-out-loud moments but they're outnumbered by the flat stretches in this overlong comedy." On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 50 out of 100, based on 38 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".
David Rooney of The Hollywood Reporter wrote: "If ever a comedy cried out for tight 85-minute treatment that keeps the gags pinging fast enough to disguise the thin sketch material at its core, it's this hit-or-miss two-hour feature." Owen Gleiberman of Variety called it "a badly shot one-joke movie that sits there and goes thud." Chris Hewitt of Empire magazine wrote: "The votes are in and it's official: this largely unfunny paean to Eurovision is a waste of some serious talent. At least some of the songs are decent." Hewitt also complained about the length of the film: "It's all rather airless and lifeless and is at least half an hour too long." Robbie Collin of The Telegraph wrote: "Sending up the Eurovision Song Contest is like flattening Salisbury Plain: one quick look at the thing should be enough to reassure you that the job took care of itself long ago. Nevertheless, Will Ferrell has decided to give it a shot and the result is this pulverisingly unfunny and vacuous two-hour gauntlet run of non-entertainment.” Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian wrote: "The movie is not a disaster, just weirdly pointless". Bradshaw also criticizes the script saying it "pulls its punches" and the plot is borrowed from The Producers.
Charlotte O'Sullivan of the Evening Standard gave the film a more positive review, praising the performances of McAdams and Stevens and writing that "Ferrell, who co-wrote the script, wisely realises that this institution is beyond parody and is simply content to pay homage. The result is extremely silly and ridiculously rousing." David Sims of The Atlantic praised the film's "chipper spirit" and wrote "this is a comedy that knows how to make fun and have fun." Kevin Maher of The Times concluded that "This might just be the most idiotic movie of the year so far. But joyously so." 
According to Icelandic bloggers Kristin Kristjansdottir and Steinunn Björk Bragadóttir, the film was well received by both Eurovision fans and native Icelanders, with the director of the local council of Húsavík welcoming the film.
- For Russians only, Alexander Lemtov's non-typical Russian surname and character development are the obvious references to both Mikhail Lermontov (author of A Hero of Our Time), a poet of Scottish heritage (surname), and Modest Mussorgsky, a composer of Rurikids descent (formally non-gay, known for encouraging a female opera singer Daria Leonova to compose a classical song).
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