The Queen’s Gambit: A Review of the Netflix Miniseries

I was taught the game of chess as a child and still remember the joy and fun of playing chess with my grandfather.  But for some chess is not a game, it is their career and livelihood.  Many top tier chess players are regarded as geniuses and boast impressive memories and knowledge surrounding the theory of chess.  However, in the case of the Queen’s Gambit a lack of chess knowledge will not hold you back and will certainly not take away from the viewing pleasure garnered by the show.

The Queen’s Gambit is a new limited series on Netflix and its presence has surely shocked the chess and streaming worlds alike, having been viewed by 62 million households after airing on October 23. 

Orphaned Beth Harmon, portrayed by Isla Johnston.

The story follows the life of Beth Harmon, a female chess player who is orphaned after a tragic car accident when her mother is killed in 1957.  It is as much a chess series as it is a coming of age film for Beth.  We see Beth grow from a young girl to a grandmaster level chess player as she struggles with addiction, depression and family problems along the way.  The writers for the show cannot get enough credit for taking Walter Trevis’s long novel and turning it into an entertaining bite sized work of art. 

The filming and acting in the show were remarkable and the portrayal of life in the 1960’s was realistic and well done.  Mini skirts and bell bottoms along with some Beetle’s references made the 1960’s come to life.  Filming and the soundtrack made the intense chess matches easy to follow although they could have done with more close up shots of the chess boards to help audiences understand the positions.  The music was done by Carlos Rafael Rivera and he did an amazing job so props to him.  The sound of dancing violins paired with the soft piano worked so well that every scene felt extremely real.  It was also used for montage shots of the chess game and even though they could last for ages they felt quick and very intense. 

The 1960’s come to life. Anya Taylor-Joy as Beth Harmon (left) and Harry Melling as Harry Beltik (right).

Part of this success is due to how easy and binge worthy this show has become to many people.  The show is seven episodes each lasting around an hour.  These shorter runtimes feel like mini movies and don’t drag on as many Netflix Series have in the past.  Netflix truly did an amazing job picking this series and I hope there is no sequel or spin off in the future.  This series set out to entertain audiences and make them captivated with the world of chess and that’s what it did.  There have been rumors of Netflix renewing the show but I believe this should never happen. It was an amazing show and all of the story lines are happily finished.  From the characters, the acting, music, and cinematography the story felt extraordinarily rich at its peak, while extremely sad and melancholy during Beth’s lows.  I urge anyone with a Netflix subscription to give The Queen’s Gambit a try and see what the world of Beth Harmon can bring to the metaphorical chess table.

Gabriel Pribilski

My name is Gabe Pribilski and I am a lover of fascinating films from Tarantino to Kurosawa as well as a sports fan. I am currently pursuing an associates in science at Harper College and haven’t decided on a major.  I am simply a college student who hopes to get the most out of Harper and continue with my love for film and sports while doing so.

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