Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga

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Eurovision Song Contest:
The Story of Fire Saga
Promotional film poster
Directed byDavid Dobkin
Written by
Produced by
CinematographyDanny Cohen
Edited byGreg Hayden
Music byAtli Örvarsson
Distributed byNetflix
Release date
  • June 26, 2020 (2020-06-26)
Running time
123 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States
Budget$35 million[2]

Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga is a 2020 American musical romantic comedy film directed by David Dobkin, written by Will Ferrell and Harper Steele, and starring Will Ferrell, Rachel McAdams, Dan Stevens, Melissanthi Mahut, Mikael Persbrandt, Ólafur Darri Ólafsson, Graham Norton, Demi Lovato, and Pierce Brosnan. The film follows the personally close Icelandic singers Lars Erickssong and Sigrit Ericksdóttir as they are given the chance to represent their country at the Eurovision Song Contest.

The Story of Fire Saga was originally scheduled for a May 2020 release on Netflix to coincide with the Eurovision Song Contest 2020. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 contest was cancelled, and the film was subsequently released a month later, on June 26.[3][4] It received mixed reviews from critics, who praised the original music but criticised the screenplay and runtime, but was favourably received by many Eurovision fans.[5][6][7] The film received a nomination for Best Original Song at the 93rd Academy Awards (for "Husavik").[8]


In the small town of Húsavík, Iceland, Lars Erickssong and Sigrit Ericksdóttir, best friends since childhood, make music together as the band Fire Saga, much to the dismay of Lars' widowed father, Erick ("Volcano Man"). Lars has one dream: to win the Eurovision Song Contest. But at the local bar where they perform, the only song the audience wants to hear is the suggestive nonsense song "Ja Ja Ding Dong". Sigrit's mother Helga also disapproves of their partnership, saying that Lars is holding Sigrit back, and that she will never hit the "Speorg note"—a note that can only be sung when being your truest self—when singing with him. The pair apply and are selected to take part in Söngvakeppnin, the Icelandic pre-selection for Eurovision. Lars is so ecstatic about their participation that he rings the church belltower, resulting in him being arrested by a policeman for falsely signalling an emergency. Lars, to his defense, says that the town is near death and that Fire Saga's participation in the contest is the only chance their town has to be alive. Sigrit convinces the police officers to free him. Sigrit, who believes in the old Icelandic tradition of elves, asks the elves for help to get them into the contest in the hope that if Fire Saga wins, Lars will return Sigrit's romantic feelings for him.

Fire Saga's performance at Söngvakeppnin goes wrong due to technical problems ("Double Trouble"). A dejected Lars declines to attend the boat party thrown for all the finalists and sits on the dock as Sigrit tries to console him. Suddenly, the boat explodes, killing everyone on board and leaving Fire Saga as the only surviving contestants and thus final winners by default, much to the disappointment of the participation committee. Lars and Sigrit arrive in Edinburgh, Scotland, where Eurovision is being held ("Amar pelos dois"). Once there, Lars rebuffs Sigrit's attempts to kiss him, reiterating that they need to focus on the competition, not their relationship. They struggle with a new remix of their song and Lars' elaborate staging plans, and meet Alexander Lemtov, the Russian representative who is a favorite to win the contest ("Lion of Love").

Alexander invites Lars and Sigrit to a party at his house, attended by numerous real-life former Eurovision contestants, where he introduces them both to multiple other contestants, including the Greek contestant Mita Xenakis. They join the other contestants in a "Song-a-Long" (a mashup of "Believe", "Ray of Light", "Ne partez pas sans moi", "Waterloo" and "I Gotta Feeling"). Alexander and Sigrit spend the night together, as do Lars and Mita, although neither pair becomes intimate. At their rehearsal, Sigrit expresses her hate for the new clothing and remix and asks Lars to go back to the way things originally were, which Lars does. Later, back at the hotel, Lars overhears Sigrit working on a new song and presumes that it is a love song made for Alexander and that they are pursuing a romantic relationship.

Their semi-final performance of "Double Trouble" initially runs well, but is botched by an accident involving Sigrit's scarf getting caught in a hamster wheel prop, which rolls off the stage and into the audience. The two recover and finish the song, but are met with deafening silence and scattered laughter. Believing Fire Saga has become a laughing stock, they exit the stage, unaware that the crowd has erupted with applause for their persistence in finishing the performance. An angry Lars prepares to return to Iceland. Sigrit pleads with Lars to stay, but Lars angrily refuses. Sigrit then declares their relationship over. Lars tells Sigrit to go sing her love song for Alexander, upon which she reveals that she wrote it for Lars. Lars returns to Iceland to become a fisherman with his father, unaware that Fire Saga has qualified for the final.

Out at sea, Lars confesses his love for Sigrit to his father Erick, who convinces him to go back and fight for his love, expressing admiration for finishing his semi-final performance despite the mishap. Upon learning that Iceland is in the final, Lars dives off the boat and leaves for Edinburgh. Meanwhile, Alexander sees an opportunity to establish a partnership with Sigrit, but she declines. Sigrit realizes that Alexander is gay but can't come out because of homophobia in Russia. Lars hitches a ride with Victor Karlosson (governor of the Central Bank of Iceland, and one of the Icelandic organizational team members), who attempts to murder Lars and reveals that he blew up the boat at Söngvakeppnin, for fear that Iceland would not be able to host Eurovision the following year if they win due to bankruptcy. Unseen elves save Lars by killing Victor with a thrown knife in the back, allowing Lars to make it back to the final in time. Interrupting their performance, he encourages Sigrit to ditch their official entry and perform the song she has written for him ("Húsavík"). Lars starts playing the song on the piano, and Sigrit sings her song, culminating with a Speorg note, touching the audience and the people of Húsavík. Realising that they are in love with each other, Lars and Sigrit kiss on stage to a standing ovation in the audience. Backstage, Alexander is happy for them and accepts Mita's invitation to come to Greece with her in order to find his own happiness.

Fire Saga is 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. Back in Húsavík, Lars and Sigrit awake on the bus to a huge cheering crowd of locals. Some time later, Fire Saga is back to performing in the local bar, this time at the wedding reception of Lars’ father and Sigrit's mother. Bringing their newborn baby along, they ask if anyone wants to hear their Eurovision song, but the crowd once again demands "Ja Ja Ding Dong".


  • Will Ferrell as Lars Erickssong, a middle-aged man with aspirations of winning the Eurovision Song Contest
    • Alfie Melia as young Lars[9]
  • Rachel McAdams as Sigrit Ericksdóttir, Lars' bandmate and long-time best friend, who wishes for a romantic relationship with him
    • Sophia-Grace Donnelly as young Sigrit
    • Molly Sandén sings parts of Sigrit's songs (she and McAdams worked together to produce Sigrit's singing voice).[10]
  • Dan Stevens as Alexander Lemtov, a flamboyant singer representing Russia
    • Erik Mjönes sings all Lemtov's songs
  • Melissanthi Mahut as Mita Xenakis, another contestant, representing Greece
  • Mikael Persbrandt as Victor Karlosson, governor of the Central Bank of Iceland, who doesn't want Iceland to win the contest
  • Ólafur Darri Ólafsson as Neils Brongus, president of RÚV, Iceland's national public service broadcaster
  • Graham Norton as himself, a Eurovision commentator, credited as playing Graham Norton
  • Demi Lovato as Katiana Lindsdóttir, winner of Söngvakeppnin
  • Pierce Brosnan as Erick Erickssong, Lars' disapproving widowed father
  • Joi Johannsson as Jorn, a member of the Icelandic Eurovision committee
  • Alfrun Rose as Anna, a member of the Icelandic Eurovision committee
  • Björn Hlynur Haraldsson as Arnar, a policeman who has a crush on Sigrit
  • Jamie Demetriou as Kevin Swain, head of Iceland's creative team
  • Jon Kortajarena as Corin Vladvitch, the Eurovision host
  • Elina Alminas as Sasha More, the Eurovision host
  • 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 "Ja Ja Ding Dong".
  • William Lee Adams as himself, a Eurovision commentator.[12]
  • Zack Propert as Stephan, Fire Saga's drummer

Appearances of Eurovision artists[edit]

Several former contestants of the Eurovision Song Contest made cameos in the film:

Other appearances include:


Ferrell was introduced to the Eurovision Song Contest in 1999 by his Swedish wife, actress Viveca Paulin.This year Sweden also celebrated the 25th anniversary of ABBA's victory in the 1974 competition and it was also the year of their 4th victory with Charlotte Perrelli with the song "Take Me to Your Heaven", which Ferrell mentions as a reason he became invested in the competition.[14]

In May 2018, in preparation for the film, Ferrell attended the final of the Eurovision Song Contest 2018 with the icelandic delegation at the Altice Arena in Lisbon, Portugal, to research possible characters and scenarios for the film.[15][16] He also spoke backstage with Eurovision contestants.[15] 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.[4]

In March 2019, David Dobkin signed on to direct the film.[17] In May 2019, Rachel McAdams joined the cast. McAdams and Ferrell were spotted by another delegations during the dress rehearsals for the Eurovision Song Contest 2019 held in Tel Aviv, Israel, the stage of which was later rebuilt on a soundstage in London for the in-contest scenes, while plate shots were done with the real-life live audience back in Tel Aviv.[18][19][20] In August 2019, Pierce Brosnan, Dan Stevens, and Demi Lovato joined the cast, with filming commencing in Edinburgh and Glasgow, and in Iceland. Ferrell was pictured filming scenes at both the OVO Hydro, in Glasgow itself, and Glasgow Airport, in Abbotsinch, Paisley, in October 2019.[21][22][23] 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. Knebworth House was used for the exterior shots of Alexander Lemtov's British house in the film.[24][25]

The actors studied Icelandic and did specific work with a speech therapist to be able to speak english with the country's accent without any kind of cliché.[26] They also trained with icelandic coaches and McAdams studyied Björk mannerisms and physical behaviors.[26][27] Tabitha and Napoleon D'umo (known for So You Think You Can Dance) oversaw the choreography.[14]

Production costs in Iceland were stipulated in a value of US$3.6 million, which the Icelandic government as part of invested around US$1 million as part of an incentive package for the local film industry and as a way to attract tourists. It is worth noting that the European Broadcast Union (EBU) also invested a financial amount in the project..[28]


Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga (Music from the Netflix Film)
Soundtrack album by
various artists
ReleasedJune 26, 2020 (2020-06-26)
ProducerSavan Kotecha
Singles from Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga (Music from the Netflix Film)
  1. "Volcano Man"
    Released: May 15, 2020

The soundtrack album for the film was released digitally on June 26, 2020, and the CD release followed on August 21, 2020.[29] "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).[30] According to Netflix, Sandén's vocals were mixed with McAdams' own voice for the tracks.[14] In a separate phone call with Vanity Fair, the soundtrack's 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.[31] The soundtrack was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Compilation Soundtrack for Visual Media at the 63rd Annual Grammy Awards.[32]

Track listing[edit]

Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga (Music from the Netflix Film) track listing[33]
1."Double Trouble (Tiësto's Euro 90s Tribute Remix)" (performed by Will Ferrell, My Marianne, and Tiësto)
  • Birgisson
  • Rami
2."Lion of Love" (performed by Erik Mjönes)
3."Coolin' with Da Homies" (performed by Savan Kotecha)
  • Kotecha
  • Yacoub
4."Volcano Man" (performed by Ferrell and Marianne)
  • Gustaf Holter
  • Christian Persson
  • Holter
  • Persson
5."Jaja Ding Dong" (performed by Ferrell and Marianne)
  • Holter
  • Persson
  • Holter
  • Persson
6."In the Mirror" (performed by Demi Lovato)Jörgen Elofsson
  • Elofsson
  • Anton "Hybrid" Mårtensson
7."Happy" (performed by Ferrell and Marianne)Pharrell Williams
  • Kotecha
  • Nevin Sastry
8."Song-a-Long: "Believe", "Ray of Light", "Waterloo", "Ne partez pas sans moi", and "I Gotta Feeling"" (performed by cast)Alana da Fonseca3:18
9."Running with the Wolves" (performed by Courtney Jenaé and Adam Grahn)
  • A. Carlsson
  • Öberg
  • Lauridsen
10."Fool Moon" (performed by Anteros)
Charlie Andrew3:26
11."Hit My Itch" (performed by Antonio Sol, David Loucks, Taylor Lindersmith, and Nicole Leontih)
  • Chris Wagner
  • Danny Pinnella
  • Ric Markmann
  • Gosling
  • Hayden
  • Monaghan
  • Rumble
12."Come and Play (Masquerade)" (performed by Petra Nielsen)Thomas G:sonG:son3:08
13."Amar pelos dois" (performed by Salvador Sobral)Luísa SobralL. Sobral3:05
14."Husavik (My Hometown)" (performed by Ferrell and Marianne)
Fat Max Gsus3:22
15."Double Trouble (Film Version)" (performed by Ferrell and Marianne)
  • Birgisson
  • Yacoub
  • Kotecha
  • Birgisson
  • Rami
16."Eurovision Suite" (performed by Atli Örvarsson)ÖrvarssonÖrvarsson6:19


Chart (2020) Peak
Australian Albums (ARIA)[35] 44
Belgian Albums (Ultratop Flanders)[36] 64
Icelandic Albums (Tónlist)[37] 2
Norwegian Albums (VG-lista)[38] 13
Swedish Albums (Sverigetopplistan)[39] 8
UK Soundtrack Albums (OCC)[40] 1
US Billboard 200[41] 170
US Soundtrack Albums (Billboard)[42] 5


The Story of Fire Saga was digitally released by Netflix on June 26, 2020.[43] 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.[44][45] In its second weekend it fell to number eight on the site.[46]

After the cancellation of the Eurovision Song Contest 2020, as part of broadcasting plans for the following year's contest, the movie was aired by a number of broadcasters competing that year, typically on public channels affiliated with the European Broadcasting Union, the producers of both the contest and the film.

Country Network(s) Date(s) Ref.
 Australia SBS 14 May 2021 [47]
SBS World Movies 29 May 2021
 Belgium Eén 15 May 2021
 Croatia HRT 2 19 May 2021
 Denmark DR1 21 May 2021
23 May 2021
 Greece Open TV (undubbed) 15 July 2022
 Estonia ETV+ 21 May 2021
 Ireland RTÉ One 19 May 2021
 Latvia LTV1 14 May 2021
 Lithuania LRT televizija 22 May 2021
 Malta TVM 15 May 2021
 Norway NRK1 17 May 2021 [48]
NRK3 21 May 2021
 Portugal RTP1 22 May 2021 [49]
 San Marino San Marino RTV (undubbed) 16 May 2021
 Spain La 1 22 May 2021
 Sweden SVT2 15 May 2021 [50]
  Switzerland SRF zwei 19 May 2021 [51]


On Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 63% based on 183 reviews, with an average rating of 5.8/10. 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."[52] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 50 out of 100, based on 39 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[5]

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."[6] Owen Gleiberman of Variety called it "a badly shot one-joke movie that sits there and goes thud."[53] 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."[54] Robbie Collin of The Daily 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."[55] 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.[56] Other writers noted plot similarities with the 1996 Father Ted episode "A Song for Europe".[57][58]

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."[59] 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."[60] Kevin Maher of The Times concluded that "This might just be the most idiotic movie of the year so far. But joyously so."[61]

Icelandic tour company Reykjavik Excursions stated on its blog that two days after the film's release, "everyone had seen the film. And for the most part, they loved it". The company praised the film's accuracy, such as the concerns that the country could not afford to host Eurovision in the event of a victory, Ferrell and McAdams's "Euro-hippie appearance with the woollen sweaters and raggedy hair", and the depiction of Húsavík and the elves.[62]


Award Date Category Recipient Result
Academy Awards April 25, 2021 Best Original Song Savan Kotecha, Fat Max Gsus and Rickard Göransson for "Husavik" Nominated
Critics' Choice Movie Awards March 7, 2021 Best Song Savan Kotecha, Rickard Göransson & Fat Max Gsus for "Husavik" Nominated
Grammy Awards March 14, 2021 Best Compilation Soundtrack for Visual Media Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga Nominated
Hollywood Music in Media Awards January 27, 2021 Best Original Song in a Feature Film Savan Kotecha, Rickard Göransson, Fat Max Gsus, Will Ferrell, Rachel McAdams, Molly Sandén for "Husavik" Nominated
Hugo Award April 13, 2021 Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form Will Ferrell, Harper Steele, David Dobkin Nominated
Motion Picture Sound Editors Awards April 16, 2021 Outstanding Achievement in Sound Editing – Musical for Feature Film Allegra De Souza, Peter Oso Snell, Jon Mooney Won
Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Awards March 13, 2021 Favorite Movie Actor Will Ferrell Nominated
Set Decorators Society of America Awards March 31, 2021 Best Achievement in Décor/Design of a Comedy or Musical Feature Film Naomi Moore and Paul Inglis Nominated[63]
Society of Composers and Lyricists Awards March 2, 2021 Outstanding Original Song for Visual Media Savan Kotecha, Fat Max Gsus, Rickard Göransson for "Husavik" Won[64]

In popular culture[edit]

For the Eurovision Song Contest 2021, Hannes Óli Ágústsson reprised his role as Olaf Yohansson for the voting segment of the final, in which he presented the points on behalf of the Icelandic jury.[65] In announcing Iceland's jury points, he first asks the host to play "Ja Ja Ding Dong" but she refuses, then he attempted to give 12 points to "Ja Ja Ding Dong"; upon being told that it's impossible to do so, he reluctantly granted the points to Switzerland instead.[66] The Finnish representatives Blind Channel also held up signs saying "Play Ja Ja Ding Dong" in the green room during the televoting window.[67]

In the same year, the Norwegian representative Tix gained publicity over showing affection for the Azerbaijani representative, Samira Efendi, throughout their time at the contest. Tix was seen singing "Ja Ja Ding Dong" as a love serenade for Efendi.[68]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Subsequent to the release of the film, she also won the 2023 contest


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