Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga
|Eurovision Song Contest: |
The Story of Fire Saga
|Directed by||David Dobkin|
|Edited by||Greg Hayden|
|Music by||Atli Örvarsson|
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. Starring Ferrell and Rachel McAdams, the film follows Icelandic singers Lars Erickssong and Sigrit Ericksdóttir as they are given the chance to represent their country at the Eurovision Song Contest. Pierce Brosnan, Dan Stevens, and Demi Lovato also star.
The Story of Fire Saga was initially scheduled for a May 2020 release to coincide with the Eurovision Song Contest 2020. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 Eurovision contest was cancelled, and the film was subsequently released a month later, on June 26, on Netflix.
The Story of Fire Saga received mixed reviews from critics (who praised the original music but criticised the two-hour runtime), but had a positive reception from many Eurovision fans. The film received a nomination for Best Original Song at the 93rd Academy Awards (for "Husavik").
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. Lars has one dream: to win the Eurovision Song Contest. Lars, in particular, is deeply into his "art", but at the local bar where they play, the only song the audience wants to hear is the suggestive nonsense song "Ja Ja Ding Dong". 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 at Söngvakeppnin is a disaster; the talented favorite Katiana Lindsdóttir wins. 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, become Iceland's entry to the Eurovision Song Contest by default. Lars tells Stephan, Fire Saga’s bar drummer, that he is not joining them on the trip, something that doesn’t disappoint Stephan who has merely negative feelings about the 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 a 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). Alexander tries to get Sigrit to leave Fire Saga and join him. This creates tensions within Fire Saga, and almost derails their plans for the semifinal. Lars is skeptical of Sigrit's love interest in him, believing she is pursuing a romantic relationship with Alexander, but she denies having slept with Alexander during their secret stay together, and encourages him to have sex with everyone in Husavik and become the new "sex machine", something Lars agrees to. 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 where they are predicted to finish last.
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. Believing Fire Saga have become a laughing stock, they exit the stage; thus not hearing the crowd erupt with applause for their strength of finishing the song. Lars, humiliated, refuses to go and sit with the other contestants 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. Lars angrily refuses and, when Sigrit heads towards the green room, tells her to go sing her love song for Alexander. The heartbroken Sigrit replies she wrote it for Lars. Lars is stunned; nevertheless, he returns to Húsavík where he gets a job on a fishing boat. Unaware that Fire Saga has been voted through to the finals, Lars tells his friend (and Fire Saga's sometime drummer) Stephan that he is going to become a fisherman and drink himself to death, and encourages Stephan to give up all his dreams.
Out at sea, Lars talks with his father and confesses his love for Sigrit, with Erick telling him to go back and fight for her love. When he learns Iceland is in the finals, Lars jumps off the boat and swims to shore. Meanwhile, Alexander sees his opportunity to try to establish a love relationship with Sigrit, but she is reluctant in response. Lars gets a ride to Reykjavík, with Victor Karlosson (governor of the Central Bank of Iceland, and one of the Icelandic organisational team members), who 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 reappears to warn Lars — this time mentioning Victor by name — but Lars bluntly informs her Victor 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". Lars starts playing the song on the piano, and Sigrit follows through with singing the song.
Watching at home, their friends and families are all touched, discovering that the song is 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. The next scene has Lars and Sigrit returning to Húsavík, where they awake on the bus to a cheering crowd of locals. The movie leaps forward a year or two; Fire Saga are again performing in the local bar at the wedding reception of Lars's father and Sigrit's mother. Lars has his and Sigrit's baby strapped to his front as they perform. They ask if anyone wants to hear their Eurovision song, but all the crowd wants to hear is "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
- 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
- Erik Mjönes sings all 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
- Jon Kortajarena as Corin Vladvitch, the Eurovision host
- Elina Alminas 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 "Ja Ja Ding Dong".
- William Lee Adams as himself, a Eurovision commentator.
- Zack Propert as Stephan, Fire Saga's drummer
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:
- Salvador Sobral (2017 winner) as a busker playing piano in Scotland
- Molly Sandén (2006 Junior contestant) who dubbed Rachel McAdams in all Sigrit Ericksdóttir's songs.
- Petra Nielsen (Melodifestivalen 2004 contestant) who dubbed Melissanthi Mahut in Mita Xenakis' song.
Will Ferrell was introduced to the Eurovision Song Contest 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 invested in the competition.
In May 2018, in preparation for the film, Ferrell attended the final of the Eurovision Song Contest 2018 at the Altice Arena 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 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. 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.
Advertising and Promotion
The official Netflix cover features Lars in his silver Eurovision costume for Fire Saga. The Netflix screenshot initially featured Lars and Sigrit walking outside the airport terminal with their packages to fly to where the contest was being held. On July 26, 2021, it was changed to a picture of Lars and Sigrit performing enthusiastically on stage with microphones and silver costumes (something Sigrit never wore in the film).
|Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga (Music from the Netflix Film)|
|Soundtrack album by |
|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. The soundtrack was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Compilation Soundtrack for Visual Media at the 63rd Annual Grammy Awards.
|1.||"Double Trouble (Tiësto's Euro 90s Tribute Remix)" (performed by Will Ferrell, My Marianne, 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 Ferrell and Marianne)||1:21|
|5.||"Jaja Ding Dong" (performed by Ferrell and Marianne)||1:37|
|6.||"In the Mirror" (performed by Demi Lovato)||Jörgen Elofsson||2:48|
|7.||"Happy" (performed by Ferrell and Marianne)||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 Leontih)||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 (My Hometown)" (performed by Ferrell and Marianne)||Fat Max Gsus||3:22|
|15.||"Double Trouble (Film Version)" (performed by Ferrell and Marianne)||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.
As part of broadcasting plans for the Eurovision Song Contest 2021, 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.
|Australia||SBS||14 May 2021|||
|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|
|Estonia||ETV+||21 May 2021|
|Ireland||RTÉ One||19 May 2021|
|Latvia||LTV1||14 May 2021|
|Malta||TVM||15 May 2021|
|Norway||NRK1||17 May 2021|||
|NRK3||21 May 2021|
|Portugal||RTP1||22 May 2021|||
|San Marino||San Marino RTV (undubbed)||16 May 2021|
|Spain||La 1||22 May 2021|
|Sweden||SVT2||15 May 2021|||
On Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 63% based on 174 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." On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 50 out of 100, based on 39 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. Other writers noted plot similarities with the 1996 Father Ted episode "A Song for Europe."
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."
|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, Andrew 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|
|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|
In popular culture
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. In announcing Iceland’s jury points, 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. The Finnish representatives Blind Channel also held up signs saying “PLAY JA JA DING DONG” in the green room during the televoting window.
In the same year, the official YouTube channel of the contest posted a video titled “Efendi & Tix - A Eurovision Saga”, a parody of the movie’s name. The video was created in light of the Norwegian representative Tix gaining publicity over showing an affection for the Azerbaijani representative, Samira Efendi, throughout their time at the contest. Tix was also shown singing “Ja Ja Ding Dong” as a love serenade for Efendi.
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- "Efendi & TIX - A Eurovision Saga - Eurovision 2021". Eurovision.tv. Retrieved June 6, 2021.