In 1936, German Chancellor Adolf Hitler (Adrian Zwicker), leader of the notorious Third Reich, sought to use his country’s hosting of the Berlin Olympic Games as a platform for propagandizing the Nazi ideology and the rise of the Aryan race. Through a carefully constructed plan orchestrated by Hitler’s Minister of Propaganda, Joseph Goebbels (Barnaby Metschurat), and documented cinematically by his hand-picked filmmaker, Leni Riefenstahl (Carice van Houten), the Führer wanted the event to showcase the glories of fascist society and the qualities he believed constituted human perfection.
Saul Ausländer (Géza Röhrig) leads a sickeningly ghastly life. As a Sonderkommando in the Auschwitz concentration camp, he’s been consigned to a special prison work crew charged with aiding his Nazi captors in the gruesome task of exterminating his fellow Jews.
In 1972, the world was mesmerized by a seemingly unlikely event – a chess tournament. To be sure, this time-honored “game of kings” had long had more than its ample share of followers, but, in this match, the stakes were higher than just proving which participant was the better competitive strategist. The contest pitted Soviet world champion Boris Spassky (Liev Schreiber) against upstart American challenger Bobby Fischer (Tobey Maguire) at the height of the Cold War. The competition was a sort of proxy conflict between the two nations, with their respective representatives serving as surrogate warriors. And the event’s understood though unstated aim was to prove to the world which side was intellectually superior – and thus worthy of allegedly deserved respect and admiration.