Eurovision film premiered on Netflix – with Salvador Sobral and Will Ferrell
It has about two hours and is available on the streaming platform starting this Friday, June 26th.
However, what is usually described as the biggest television event in the world is not exactly known across the ocean in the United States. Will Ferrell, one of the few American fans of the contest, wanted to change that and introduce his compatriots to this world of eccentric visuals, elaborate choreography and pop music of various genres.
For this very reason, he wrote the story of “Eurovision Song Contest: The History of the Fire Saga”, which opens on Netflix this Friday, June 26. The film is about two hours long.
In addition to writing the script (together with Andrew Steele), Will Ferrell plays one of the protagonists. When you invited David Dobkin (“The Breakers-Weddings”) to be the director of the project, Dobkin did not even know Eurovision, but said that he accepted with one condition: the film had to be a love letter to the contest, not a parody.
“We wanted it to be something that people who love the festival said, ‘My God, they got it right’,” said the director to “Entertainment Weekly” magazine. “I remember Will and I were on the phone. ‘Millions of people love this. I don’t want to come with this. I’m not interested, it doesn’t work for me. ’”
Quickly, after realizing that the tone of the film could fit what he wanted, Dobkin began to study the Eurovision Festival. He saw different galas that took place several decades ago and was at the 2019 final in Tel Aviv, Israel – where the Portuguese representative was Conan Osiris. Will Ferrell had been in the previous final, at Altice Arena, in Lisbon, despite being a fan since the late 90s.
“I fell in love with Eurovision,” David Dobkin told the same American publication. “What is amazing about the program, fun as it is, is that it is incredibly well produced. It is the maximum exponent of production. There is nothing on television in America at this level. ”
The initial idea was that the director would only watch the final to understand what it was like, to see behind the scenes of the production and the public’s reactions to the themes that were being interpreted on stage. However, he quickly realized that he wanted to shoot some excerpts – and that is precisely what he did.
“I needed to record that because I would never be able to recreate that specific audience, the way they present themselves, the way they are. Eurovision performances are dynamic and unexpected. The scale is huge and the audience is unique. ”
In coordination with the organization, the director even played a reconfigured version (to prevent him from going on the Internet and everyone getting to know the real one) of the music that the duo of the protagonists of this film, the Fire Saga, play during the narrative – all to capture the audience’s reaction.
In this story, Will Ferrell and Rachel McAdams interpret Lars Erickssong and Sigrit Ericksdottir, a pair of musicians from Iceland, who aim to reach Eurovision and then beat it. However, they will face many obstacles along the way – first they will have to convince Icelanders, then the Eurovision audience.
The father of Ferrell’s character is played by Pierce Brosnan – someone who doubts the child’s abilities, who just wants to impress him. The cast also includes Dan Stevens, Demi Lovato, Natasia Demetriou, Jamie Demetriou, Ólafur Darri Ólafsson, Tómas Lemarquis, Graham Norton and Jon Kortajarena, among so many others.
For the Tel Aviv Eurovision final, Dobkin took the costume designer with him Anna B. Shepard, so that he could look at the facts of the artists and create his own – without departing from that colorful and diverse universe, sometimes almost psychedelic and surreal.
Salvador Sobral’s troubled participation in the film
Salvador Sobral, the only Portuguese musician who ever won the Eurovision (in 2017), enters this film. It was the artist himself who revealed it in an interview in January of this year on the program “Prova Oral”, by RTP1.
Almost at the end of the broadcast, Fernando Alvim and Xana Alves asked him if he had ever been angry with any celebrity. The answer was surprising: Will Ferrell.
“I happen to have one with Will Ferrell, as incredible as that sounds,” said Salvador Sobral. “I was invited to make a film with him, with Rachel McAdams and Pierce Brosnan. When I got there to Edinburgh to do the filming, the guys put me in another scene where I was talking to Will Ferrell, which I clearly said I wasn’t going to do, that’s not what we had agreed on ”.
Salvador Sobral was only going to do one scene in the film. “I thought that was not going to happen, I asked for too much money and after all they paid for it. I got there, did my scene and they wanted me to do another one and I said no. The guy was clearly upset. ”
“Amar aos Dois”, the song that made Salvador Sobral win the Eurovision – and which was composed by his sister, Luísa Sobral – is the only real theme of the contest that is part of the official soundtrack of this project.