I was really amazed by this 2006 movie, The Illusionist.
I once mentioned in one of my posts that I am really late in watching movies. But anyway, better late than never. :D If you have viewed this movie already and had taken a moment watching even the beginning credits, you will find that it is based to a short story by Steven Millhauser, Eisenheim, The Illusionist. As a fan of classic literature and very fond of short stories, I searched the web, wanting to read the story after watching the movie yesterday night. I was somewhat curious to find resemblances between the two arts. Millhauser is not a popular writer that’s why his works are a bit hard to find. Good thing I found a PDF file!
After reading the story, I wasn’t that satisfied maybe because I already saw the movie and had known already about the features. But If I were to recommend you, read first about the story then watch later the movie.
The plot is about this popular magician who does tricks with striking originality. The common magical illusions other magicians do, he replace them with uncanny and notable inventions of his own. And this magician is Eisenheim. In the short story, the whole thing evolves only around Eisenheim’s incredible magic and competition with his rivals in the theatre world where they perform.
In Neil Burger’s adaptation of the movie, the story focused to Eisenheim’s love story. The story had been narrated from the point of view of the chief inspector, Herr Uhl, who was a fan of him but later became a secret investigator of Eisenheim’s tricks because of the crowned prince. I forgot to mention that the setting was in late 1800’s and beginning of 1900’s in Vienna. Eisenheim had only one love; they were childhood sweethearts but their relationship was unwanted because the girl came from a well-known family of their country while Eisenheim was a son of a cabinet maker only. Truth is, knowing the life of Eisenheim was even a mystery. It had only been read from newspapers and magazines. Little is known about his early life and his life outside the realm of illusion. This had made the story exciting and peculiar. It’s funny how I shifted my point of view from the protagonist to the narrator. If you are not focused on the movie, you will not understand how and why it came to that climax. I thought Eisenheim was just only skilful in making his own devices for magic and also dexterous in performing illusions. I even thought that he’s weak especially when it came to the part of spirituality and ghosts. But as the movie reaches its end, it proved that Eisenheim is intelligent and is exemplary with tricks and secrets.
My rating of this movie? 9/10. It should’ve shown more tricks and more competition with his fellow magicians just like in the story. But its revision and the setting up of the reason to Eisenheim’s vanishing was excellent! I also like that Edward Norton played Eisenheim’s character. He was perfect for it.
You can click here and read the short story.