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This is a MUST HAVE for your dvd collection! A movie you can watch over and over again............................:)
In 1900 Vienna, a magician named Eisenheim the Illusionist is mystifying audiences with a remarkable magic act that is seemingly too good to believe. Chief Inspector Uhl, who is in the pocket of Crown Prince Leopold--and considers himself somewhat of an amateur conjurer--becomes obsessed with Eisenheim; Uhl is not only desperate to find out the secrets behind Eisenheim's tricks but also worried that the master magician might pose a threat to the crown prince's nefarious plans. In addition, Eisenheim is quickly growing close to Duchess Sophie von Teschen, his childhood love, who is engaged to Leopold. As Eisenheim's act becomes even more amazing--including apparently raising the spirits of the dead--he enrages the crown prince even further, leading to deception and murder. Edward Norton (FIGHT CLUB), who studied magic with Ricky Jay (THE SPANISH PRISONER) in preparing for the role, is terrific as Eisenheim, an enigmatic showman hiding a dark side. The excellent supporting cast features fine performances by Rufus Sewell (A KNIGHT'S TALE) as the evil, conniving Leopold; Jessica Biel (7TH HEAVEN) as the beautiful Sophie; and Paul Giamatti (SIDEWAYS) as the perceptive but bumbling Uhl. Written and directed by Neil Burger (INTERVIEW WITH THE ASSASSIN), THE ILLUSIONIST, which is based on a short story by Pulitzer Prizewinner Steven Millhauser, is a complex tale filled with mystery and awe. The compelling score was composed by minimalist musician Philip Glass and conducted by Michael Reisman.
n 1900 Vienna, a magician named Eisenheim the Illusionist is mystifying audiences with a remarkable magic act that is seemingly too good to believe. Chief Inspector Uhl, who is in the pocket of Crown Prince Leopold--and considers himself somewhat of an amateur conjurer--becomes obsessed with Eisenheim; Uhl is not only desperate to find out the secrets behind Eisenheim's tricks but also worried that the master magician might pose a threat to the crown prince's nefarious plans. In addition, Eisenheim is quickly growing close to Duchess Sophie von Teschen, his childhood love, who is engaged to Leopold. As Eisenheim's act becomes even more amazing--including apparently raising the spirits of the dead--he enrages the crown prince even further, leading to deception and murder. Edward Norton (FIGHT CLUB), who studied magic with Ricky Jay (THE SPANISH PRISONER) in preparing for the role, is terrific as Eisenheim, an enigmatic showman hiding a dark side. The excellent supporting cast features fine performances by Rufus Sewell (A KNIGHT'S TALE) as the evil, conniving Leopold; Jessica Biel (7TH HEAVEN) as the beautiful Sophie; and Paul Giamatti (SIDEWAYS) as the perceptive but bumbling Uhl. Written and directed by Neil Burger (INTERVIEW WITH THE ASSASSIN), THE ILLUSIONIST, which is based on a short story by Pulitzer Prizewinner Steven Millhauser, is a complex tale filled with mystery and awe. The compelling score was composed by minimalist musician Philip Glass and conducted by Michael Reisman.
In early 1900's Vienna, a teen boy & girl enter into forbidden love: taboo because she is an aristocrat with a teen boy whom her guards believe is beneath her superior status. Thus, throughout their youths their meetings are clandestine. Trying to prevent them from being together's impossible; until the young lady's guards find them together in their secret meeting place & literally pull them apart, never to be together again as youths.
As a child, the boy encountered a haggard old man who showed him amazing magic skill. This curious incident stuck with him for life & he became "the illusionist," changed his name to Eisenheim & traveled the world putting on 'magic' shows. Once an adult, the young woman, Sophie, was considered the property of the Crown Prince.
Eisenheim's tragic mistake was returning home to Vienna & performing. During one of his performances, the Crown Prince attended with his girlfriend, Sophie--Eisenheim's true love. When Eisenheim asks for someone from the audience to take part in his show of illusions, Sophie volunteers. His performance with the Crown Prince's lady becomes an affront to his royal highness (read arrogant machismo in disguise as 'power'). So Eisenheim is invited to perform at the Prince's palace where he's to expect an audience of intellectualizing skeptics to rip his illusions to shreds by figuring out how they are performed.
Eisenheim's fatal flaw is not understanding just how threatened the Prince's 'power' could become if the illusionist's methods of 'magic' could not be figured out by the Prince, in his own palace, in front of all his friends! This was utterly humiliating--a threat to the Crown's need to be viewed as omnipotent. Eisenheim's magic proved more powerful!
Following that catastrophe, Eisenheim was spied upon, stalked & his performances became all the more sensational, attracting highly enthused audiences who became his loyal following. Of course, there's much more to the story . . . that I shant spoil~
Edward Norton is the adult Eisenheim.
Paul Giamatti is the stalking Inspector Uhl.
Jessica Biel is the adult Sophie, Eisenheim's love.
Rufus Sewell is an ever so insecure & arrogating jerk, Crown Prince Leopold.
Aaron Johnson is the younger Eisenheim.
Eleanor Tomlinson is the younger Sophie.
The tragic events are fascinating & heart wrenching at once.
How Eisenheim handles them is what makes "The Illusionist," a priceless movie.
I'm going to own this one because there are so many intricate & interesting details that I'll watch it repeatedly. Plus, it's a great relief from the bulk of mundane & mediocre 'new' movies that have been on the silver screen of late.
Neil Burger directs this well-set, well-lit, well composed the screenplay that's definitely a beautifully acted motion picture. It's based upon Steven Millhauser's short story, "Eisenheim the Illusionist." Quite a story, at that! Eisenheim's shows are ever so entertaining.
It was released on September 1st, 2006 in the USA.
Rated PG-13 for (very little) sexuality & (very rare) violence.
Runtime is 110 minutes.
Language is English.
Color by DeLuxe.
Aspect Ratio is 1.85 x 1
Sound Mix is SDDS/Dolby Digital.
Posted by CK-Auctions
The Illusionist is quite an accomplishment when you consider writer/director Neil Burger's background. His only other film credit, a shot on digital mock doc about the Kennedy assassination, could not possible prepare audiences for a lush period piece centering on forbidden love, a twisty whodunit, and a main character whose craft seems almost supernatural. It's a leap of faith so large than many a movie fan wouldn't dare the creative chasm. And that's a shame. While it pales in comparison to Christopher Nolan's masterful adaptation of Christopher Priest's novel The Prestige, The Illusionist (based on a short story by Pulitzer Prize winner Steve Millhauser) is a delightfully engaging effort, a film overloaded with sensational small touches and mesmerizing melodramatic strokes. Taking a typical tale of class-crossed lovers, political intrigue and personal vendettas and filtering it through the evocative world of turn of the century Europe (expertly realized by several found locations in Prague), we end up with a movie that's inviting, intriguing and never sort on ideas. By combining the celebrated showmanship of old world magicians with a few technological tweaks, we end up with a fascinating display of dramatics that subverts the basic challenges of keeping the unexplained enticing within the already enigmatic realm of cinema.
At the center of this story is a quartet of compelling characters – Eisenheim (played with just a splash of contemporary cynicism by Edward Norton), Inspector Uhl (Paul Giamatti, expertly lost in the role) Crown Prince Leopold (made both pathetic and piercing by Dark City's Rufus Sewell) and the shimmering, sublime Sophie (given a good turn by Jessica Biel in what is a basically underwritten role). How they interact, how they confuse and control each other is the key to The Illusionist's success. Sometimes, Burger and his cast manage magnificently. During a command performance in the Prince's palace, a subtle sequence of one-upmanship sees everyone in the cast masking conflicting and contrasting emotions. Similarly, whenever Uhl is speaking one-on-one with Leopold or Eisenheim, the conversations crackle with real thespian thunder. It has to be said that there is little chemistry between Norton and Biel as carnal companions, but we still believe in their relationship because of the carefully controlled flashbacks that Burger uses to set up their story. And this is not a movie made up of subplots. Even though Uhl enjoys magic himself, and Leopold has a plan to seize power from his father, those aspects of the narrative are tossed off and treated as the ancillary trappings of such a long forgotten era. Indeed, there are times when The Illusionist relies heavily on its production design, hoping it will carry some of the story's cinematic weight.
Like any movie positioned on a twist ending to sum up its success, The Illusionist does a decent job of hiding the key clues to its last act denouement. Keen cinephiles will probably have it figured out long before Uhl's wide-eyed realization, but this does not detract from the way in which Burger balances the needs of the mystery with the forward progress of his plot. Indeed, The Illusionist is as old fashioned in its wrap up as the epoch its characters exist in, While it is not the best magic movie of the year, it is a remarkably accomplished piece of masterful motion picture making.
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"Eisenheim, making it easier to appreciate the movie's elegant cinematic sleight of hand. As with any good magic show, the fun of a picture like this lies in knowing that we're being tricked and trying to figure out how the trick works, rather than having the rug pulled out from under us all of a sudden at the end." LA Times.
"The Illusionist" directed by Neil Burger is a powerful film that tells the darkly, romantic story of an "Illusionist", Eisenheim, played by Edward Norton who falls in love as a teenager to Sophie von Teschen, Jesscia Biel. Because Eisenhiem was poor and Sophie from a wealthy upper-class family the union was not to be. We return to the Vienna of the 1900's, Eisenheim is now a famous Illusionist and he finds Sophie is engaged to Crown Prince Leopold, one who is said to be a sadist with his ladies. In the opening scene, Eisenheim is found alone on the stage. The dark, simple, dreary, stage that comes to life when Eisenheim displays his art. This magic is worrisome to Crown Prince Leopold, played by Rufus Sewell and he orders Chief Inspector Uhl, Paul Giamatti, to arrest Eisenheim for fraud. This dark, sinister plot adds to the feel of the film, it is as if the dim light hides a glow. The magic of an orange seed that blooms into a full orange tree bearing fruit. And, the ghosts that fade into view and then disappear. We want it to be so, we want to believe that "all is not what it seems", and then again "is that all there is?"
The plot thickens as Sophie faces danger and Eisenheim accuses Crown Prince Leopold of misdeeds. A game of cat and mouse ensues and it is Chief Inspector Uhl who becomes the centrist trying to decide who "The Illusionist" is and what is real. Paul Giamatti steals this movie, in my opinion. He is ruthless and thoughtful and in the end we discover he is also a man of the law. We discover, through Chief Inspector Uhl that this film is a moral story about power and deception.
The photography and film are powerful. The old Austria is well represented. The feel of the early 1900's and the era of Prince Joseph Franz and what is to come, spring to life through the scenes of the richness of Crown Prince Leopold's surroundings compared to a simple hunting lodge. We are able to feel the darkness and the glow that survives.
The soundtrack to "The Illusionist" recorded by Philip Glass is a marvelous score. The music becomes a large part of the movie, telling the story when there is no dialogue. The music is eerie and telling and lovely and matches the darkness that starts to glow.
This is a movie to remember, a movie to ruminate -is this real, is that all there is? The wooden necklace that Sophie wears was made by Eisenheim just for Sophie, and is an allegory of this film. It is made in such a way that when opened, becomes a heart with a picture of a young Eisenheim inside. Think about this- when opened, the truth is revealed. "This is a movie in which the future doesn't exist -- all that matters is the misty golden halo of its own present, a vibrant city standing at the edge of a new century. Blink and it's gone. But at least the glow remains." salon.com