Film/TV

The Queen’s Gambit (2020)

The Netflix masterpiece & acting masterclass.

Anya Taylor-Joy is perfect in this role. So is Isla Johnston. Both portray Elizabeth Harmon – the main character in Netflix’s drama The Queen’s Gambit.

Isla Johnston plays the younger Beth. She has already mastered how to express emotions through facial expressions without having to say one word. This is something that Anya Taylor-Joy is also phenomenal at.

Isla Johnston as little Beth

Some say that if The Queen’s Gambit had been a feature (movie) it could have been an Oscar contender.  Everything about this production is exquisite: the casting, the cast & crew, the dialog, cinematography, art direction, production design, the adaptation, and directing.

For 22 straight days, after its debut, The Queen’s Gambit ruled the Top 10 for shows on Netflix. Over 62 million households watched The Queen’s Gambit in its first 28 days. It is, as of date, the streamer’s most-watched scripted limited series of all time. 

The Netflix mini-series is based on a 1983 novel by the late Kentucky author Walter Tevis, who also taught English, and creative writing.

Another one of his novels, “The Hustler” (1959) was made into the 1961 film with the same name starring Paul Newman and Jackie Gleason.

His science-fiction novel “The Man Who Fell to Earth,”(published in 1963) was made into the 1976 film starring David Bowie.

The fictional story The Queen’s Gambit is loosely based on reality and mirrors the author’s life. Walter Tevis learned how to play chess at the age of seven and become an average club or tournament player. He also learned to play pool with a friend who had his own pool table at home. Every day after school he and his friend played pool until they were exhausted. Then they would play chess into the night to wind down.

Walter Tevis was temporarily abandoned by his parents when he was 9, while he was placed at a convalescent home where he was treated for rheumatic heart and Sydenham’s chorea. The young Tevis was drugged at the convalescent home three times daily with phenobarbital. Later in life, he became an alcoholic. Tevis, like his protagonist Beth Harmon, went to high school in Lexington, Kentucky. 

Trivia: You might recognize a familiar face from Love Actually (2003). The performer also starred in Nanny McPhee (2005)

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