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Games that give a film its title
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There are so many geeklists about games in movies (I'll try and list them all in the comments) that I didn't know to which one add the following films. So, in the end, I decided to create my own geeklist, but to restrict it to games that give a film its title. Please feel free to add your own contributions, but keep in mind the following rules:

1. Only fiction films, no documentaries please.

2. Only the title in the original language will be taken into account.

3. The game must not only give its title to the film, but also feature significantly in it. So if the title alludes to the game as a metaphor and the game is not seen at all, or only in passing, it won't make the list. For instance, La diagonale du fou by Richard Dembo is in, but Le coup du berger by Claude Chabrol is out.

4. The title may include the name of the game, or of one of its components or rules, such as piece moves, openings, strategies... (the idea for the list came from films 1, 2 and 4). Titles such ”the player(s) of (this or that game)” are kind of OK, but titles alluding to famous players are not (I guess this is a way for me not to include that awful “Searching for Bobby Fisher” film).

5. To prevent this list from getting too heavy to load, I'll embed videos and post images in the 1st comment to each item. This way, people with slow connections can choose the "hide comments" option when first loading the list.


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1. Board Game: Scopa [Average Rating:6.65 Overall Rank:1952]
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Lo scopone scientificoLuigi Comencini (Italy, 1972)
aka The Scientific Cardplayer / The Scopone Game [en] / L'argent de la vieille [fr] / Sembrando ilusiones [es]

The name of the card game, listed as a scopa variant in BGG, gives its title to the 1972 film by Luigi Comencini. This dark, very dark, comedy features many card playing scenes.

Rome, early 1970's. A millionairess from the US (Betty Davis) travels the world with her secretary and former lover (Joseph Cotten) playing card games for money. Her regular “play buddies” in Rome are a family from the slums. Year after year, the couple (Alberto Sordi and Silvana Mangano) lose, but this time, they are sure of it, they will win: they have trained hard all year and the whole slum roots for them. In the end,
Spoiler (click to reveal)
the rich get rich, the poor get poor, but in a last-minute twist in the tale, the younger generation will show a new, more radical, approach to problem solving.


A must-see. Mortacci! You call yourselves board/card game geeks and haven't seen this?
 
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2. Board Game: T.E.G.: Plan Táctico y Estratégico de la Guerra [Average Rating:5.75 Overall Rank:8376]
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Kamchatka - Manuel Piñeyro (Argentina, 2001)

The film is not named after the geographical territory but after the area representing it on the TEG board, Argentina's own Risk clone. Kamchatka here is both an imaginary safe place and a code phrase between father and son.

Buenos Aires, 1976. A 10-year old boy has to flee and go in hiding with his parents and brother during the dictatorship. The film doesn't dwell on the political aspects (the threat is there but is almost invisible during the fuilm), but rather focuses on the things that hold them together as a family (boardgaming being one of them), even in times of fear and uncertainty. In the end,
Spoiler (click to reveal)
some of the characters will join the ranks of the desaparecidos, others will have to retreat to Kamchatka and resist from there.


Really worth a watch. The film is very good at recreating an atmosphere and the actors are great. Marcelo Figueras, the screenwriter, has turned the script into a novel that makes for a good read too (it has been translated into English and French, maybe to other languages too).
 
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3. Board Game: Shatranj [Average Rating:6.62 Unranked]
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Shatranj ke khilari – Satyajit Ray (India, 1977)
aka The Chess Players [en] / Les joueurs d'échecs [fr] / Los jugadores de ajedrez [es]

Understandably, the title has been translated as “The Chess Players” in most Western languages, but it is indeed shatranj they play, not chess. There is even a scene explaining the difference between the two games. And in the end,

Spoiler (click to reveal)
the players shun shatranj in favour of Western chess rules, in a clear metaphor: the vizier leaves way to the queen, i.e. Queen Victoria. Speed and greed win over opulence and indolence.


Of course, shatranj is a metaphor for many other things: the glorious past achievements of India, the escapism of the players, lack of involvement in real life, the political and military war that runs parallel to their games in Lucknow, 1856, itself a metaphor for 1977.

Worth a watch. Although the historical bits have aged badly, the scenes about the shatranj players retain their charm. For all their lack of character when it comes to managing their household or defending their country, they are endearing in their addiction to their favourite boardgame. Despite the geographical and cultural distance, I couldn't help thinking of some Maupassant characters. I am curious to read some Munshi Premchand (whose story was adapted in the script, with great liberties).
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4. Board Game: Xiangqi [Average Rating:7.18 Overall Rank:686]
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黑炮事件 (Hei pao shi jian) - Huang Jianxin (China, 1985)
aka The Black Cannon Incident [en] / L'affaire du canon noir [fr]

The film is titled after the name of a xian qi piece. Explaining the title is a spoiler in itself.

A translator is placed under surveillance by the political police and even prevented from carrying out his usual job because he has sent a mysterious telegram stating “room 301 find lost black cannon” and is viewed as a potential industrial spy (he usually works as an interpreter for a German company who sells heavy machinery to the Chinese). In the end,

Spoiler (click to reveal)
the political police opens up a package sent to him and finds out that the mysterious black cannon was nothing more than a xian qi piece the translator had forgotten in a hotel room. The translator reflects on the disruptions this has brought to his life, while he watches some kids using bricks as dominoes in the street...


If I remember well (I saw it many many years ago), I'd say it's only worth a watch for the curiosity factor and for how it reflects a particular time in history. Chinese films of the time did send mixed messages both to the Western audience and, I am guessing, to the Chinese audience as well. It is a political satire that criticizes bureaucracy and the police state, but it also carries out the Chinese government message about transitioning to market economy.
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5. Board Game: Chess [Average Rating:7.10 Overall Rank:324]
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La diagonale du fou – Richard Dembo (France, 1988)

I haven't seen this, but of the dozens of films alluding to chess in their titles (and I am sure the same applies to other classic games such as shoji, go or xiang qi) many use the game only as a metaphor.

A few still fulfill the requisites of this geeklist:

La diagonale du fou
Knight Moves
(will be continued)
 
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6. Board Game: Jumanji [Average Rating:4.36 Overall Rank:10999]
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Jumanji is named after the imaginary board game it features (and later inspired a boardgame named after the film), so it kind of fits in. The basic premises are promising, but it doesn't really implement/ take advantage of the board game. Any other kind of portal to an adventure wonderland could have done. Sadly too, all the budget went to special effects, with none or little left for screenplay.
(will be continued)
 
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7. Board Game: Eleusis [Average Rating:7.47 Overall Rank:2701]
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La règle du jeu – Jean Renoir (1938)

OK, I am stretching it a bit here, but I couldn't resist mentioning a film called “The Rule(s) of the Game”. Guessing which rules and which game is part of the viewing experience.
At first the game seems to be “les jeux du amour et du hasard” as the film draws on the tradition of “marivaudage”, Marivaux, Beaumarchais and Musset, and at time is even close to “vaudeville” (in the French meaning of the term), but it runs deeper than this, a harsh satire on European politics and class system at the time of the Munich Pact.

(will be continued)
 
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8. Board Game: Sleepy Time [Average Rating:4.33 Unranked]
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I'm off to bed. I'll finish formatting and editing the last three items and the comments tomorrow.

Meanwhile enjoy the first 4 items!
 
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9. Board Game: Cluedo Super Sleuth [Average Rating:6.16 Overall Rank:6160]
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Clue, its the film of the game.
 
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