As an American, my exposure to talent competitions has been going on for years with shows like American Idol, America’s Got Talent, and The Voice. These American talent shows focus on singers performing other artists’ songs. The rest of the world does these kinds of talent competitions better with The Eurovision Song Contest. What sets this European competition separate from our American ones is that the performers all write their songs to perform during Eurovision. Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga is a hilarious film that pokes fun at the competition while paying homage to the entire event. Ever since Lars (Will Ferrell) watched Abba win for Sweden with their song “Waterloo,” he’s been obsessed with winning the contest.
Stateside audiences are excited to see Will Ferrell, Rachel McAdams, and Demi Lovato share the comedic screen. On the other side of the pond, Eurovision fans are equally (if not more) excited to see past Eurovision winners and contestants. During a party for the Eurovision performers, the audience is treated to a “song-along” scene performed by the popular Eurovision contestants. While I am unfamiliar with most of the past Eurovision contestants and winners, I found it interesting that John Lundvik currently composes music for the show “Empire.” Unfortunately, Netta from Israel came to the States to further her career but ended leaving without a contract. The music executives wanted to talk about her losing weight instead of her talent.
My favorite part of the film Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga is the music. First of all, the music team’s original songs are catchy, great, and probably could win a Eurovision. Of course, there are a few silly, yet catchy, songs such as “JaJa Ding Dong” will become the most aggressive earworm you’ve experienced since the first dozen times you listened to We Will Rock You. The actors sing, but McAdams’ voice is blended with a four-time Swedish Eurovision competitor, Molly Sanden.
The film begins with Lars and Sigrit singing the song “Volcano Man” in a music video style. This is the perfect setup for the film and being mildly catchy and silly all in one. Their performance ends by the electricity cutting out, and Lars’s incredibly handsome dad, Erick (Pierce Brosnan), comes down to the basement, in real life, to confront his son. Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga does an excellent job building the finale’s music. One of my favorite parts of the film is when Lars and Sigrit (Rachel McAdams) perform at a local pub. The pub-goers do not want to hear their song for Eurovision but the nonsensical song, “Jaja Ding Dong.” The song is guaranteed to make you laugh. If anyone is interested, there is a YouTube video where the song is repeated for ten hours with differing animations every repeat of the Netflix Nordic team’s song. It is the best background music to listen to happily while irritating your cubicle-mates!
All the music beforehand builds up to the performance of “Double Trouble,” which is Fire Saga’s official entry into the contest. During each rehearsal and performance, something goes wrong for the duo. Everything that goes wrong and the mistakes that Lars learns from, he decides to perform “Husavik,” which Sigrit wrote. This will disqualify them, and despite this being his dream, Lars willingly gets disqualified so that Eurovision can hear her song. “Husavik” is a beautiful song performed by Molly Sanden. Most of the film is slapstick comedy, and “Husavik” stops the humor to reveal something genuinely extraordinary. “Husavik” ties together what we’ve learned about Eurovision, Iceland, Sigirt, and Husavik in an ugly cry worthy performance. It’s no surprise to those who’ve already watched Eurovision that “Husavik“ has cracked iTunes Top 10.
The real stars of Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga are the elves or Huldufolk. They are cleverly weaved into the narrative throughout the film. According to a 2007 study from the University of Iceland, more than 60% of the nation believes in the elves’ existence. In the film, Sigrit visits the elves and brings them gifts to help her and Lars. When Sigrit and Lars survive a bombing of all the other Iceland performers, Sigrit believes the elves went too far. Lars doesn’t believe in the elves until they help him escape from an attack.
Movie snobs claim that the film hits all the wrong notes, and they get more wrong about Eurovision than they get right. The point of this film isn’t to win an Academy Award in any category, although I think “Husavik” deserves something. The film’s point is its a love letter to the contest that’s chuckle-worthy yet sincerely respectful, following our dreams no matter what other people say, a family is everything, and having fun along the way. Just look at interviews with past Eurovision stars involved with the movie or Molly Sanden, which feel the movie is a dream job and generally regard it as a great way to show the world what Eurovision is like. The film brings a balance of heart, humor, and humanity to 2020 when we’ve needed it the most.