Icelanders are basking in the joy of Will Ferrell’s new comedy ‘Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga’, which beautifully captures the spirit of this campy contest and Iceland’s curious passion for it. The Netflix film, which has been trending in Iceland for weeks, comes just in time to cheer up a nation that has been mourning their missed opportunity to shine in the real contest.
When Icelanders learned that the Eurovision Song Contest would not take place this year due to the coronavirus, they were crushed. Many thought, when the announcement was made back in March, that the pandemic had crossed the line. A handball player whose sport had been put on hold said the Eurovision cancellation was the worst thing to happen in years. A journalist proposed that Icelanders take a moment to collectively cry their eyes out in the shower. Of all the cancellations, this one hurt the most.
If that seems strange, consider the fact that Iceland has only recently seen international success in sports like soccer and handball. The Eurovision Song Contest has historically been one of few venues for the country to compete with the outside world. It’s an opportunity to be seen by roughly 200 million people. Since Iceland started participating in the contest in 1986, it has entered and failed to win 32 times. Yet every year Icelanders have the same high hopes of winning—and this year, they were convinced that they would win.
Alas, Icelanders didn’t get to strut their stuff in Rotterdam and their “certain” victory was derailed, but all was not lost for a country that craves attention from abroad. Although, as one BBC reviewer put it, they are portrayed in Ferrell’s film as “an unsophisticated bunch of beer-drinking, whale-watching, knitted jumper-wearing innocents,” Icelanders couldn’t care less. They’re just excited to be portrayed in a film that people all over the world are watching. In a year without Eurovision, Iceland found the spotlight.
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