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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
There are lots of surprises in "The Illusionist." (1) Paul Giamatti, the same depressed wine lover we loved in "Sideways," is perfect as a Viennese police captain, Detective Uhl, in the early 1900s. (2) Ed Norton, the same low class segregationist that went to prison in "American History X," is also perfect as a refined magician named Eisenheim that performs magic tricks that mesmerize the citizens of Vienna at that time. (3) Our Jessica Biel, the eldest, rebellious daughter in the long-running TV series "Seventh Heaven," becomes a rich, refined, lovely fiancee of the Austrian crown prince who is plotting the overthrow of his father, the Emperor.
Eisenheim, The Illusionist, creates a following as he performs all kinds of magic tricks for the audiences in Vienna. He is fine until the Crown Prince volunteers his fiancee (Biel) for one of the tricks. Eisenheim (Norton) recognizes the young duchess as a childhood friend. She also recognizes him, and an adult romance is begun. Unfortunately, she is already betrothed to the Crown Prince, and he is not about to give her up. The climax of the movie begins when she is murdered--her body dumped in a nearby stream and her throat viciously cut.
From there, the Illusionist tries to convince the police captain that the Crown Prince murdered his fiancee because she wanted to break up with him.
We get to see modern, magical cameras at work creating ghosts from the grave and finally the duchess herself, who does not incriminate the Crown Prince, but the audience keeps asking who killed her.
From there the movie continues until the end, where the illusion is unraveled by the police captain and we see flashback clues that tell us how it all came about--much in the same fashion as "Murder on the Orient Express."
The movie is wonderful and appropriate for children because there is little violence, no embarrassing words, and lots of magic very subtly done. This is not a big blockbuster movie with lots of magical explosions but a very focused plot that leads to a mysterious ending.
It is well worth the time and the cost of the DVD--a real keeper.
It was the year of magic at the movies, and not just the on screen, cinematic kind. Hollywood reconnected with prestidigitation in a big way, releasing two competing looks at slight of hand and the fine art of fooling an audience. One was Christopher Nolan's follow-up to his critically acclaimed and wildly popular take on the Batman mythos, the other was an under the radar effort by an unknown filmmaker responsible for a well received docu-drama on the JFK assassination. When the box office figures were finalized, and all the journalistic opinions were tallied, one effort clearly came out on top. And it's not the one you'd think. Indeed, while The Prestige raked in $52 million in receipts, it was offset by a $40 million budget. The Illusionist, on the other hand, seemed to get better notices (the Rotten Tomato ranking difference between the two is negligible however) and earned a whopping $40 million compared to its $16 million costs. Arriving first on DVD, this combination thriller and romantic drama deserves a lot of credit for its attention to period and place. But when it comes to actual narrative nuance, it can't hold a candle to Nolan's battle between two world-weary wizards.
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. The finale doesn't provide the same feeling of cinematic satisfaction that one gets from an M. Night Shyamalan exercise or The Prestige's metaphysical mindf*ck. Indeed, The Illusionist is as old fashioned in its wrap up as the epoch its characters exist in, and since we feel little of the supposed passion between Eisenheim and Sophie, there is not the emotional resonance one expects from such a reveal. Still, it's clear that Burger is a filmmaker worth watching, a man with a distinct eye for the artistic and a clever way with a camera. As a director, he makes several aesthetically pleasing choices – rendering the flashbacks with a slight flicker to mimic silent film, desaturating the color and controlling the compositions to maximize a scene's inherent drama – and he does manage to get some engaging performances out of his cast. A clever combination of pre- and post-modern moviemaking sprinkled with just a little too much pat plotting particulars, The Illusionist still deserves all the accolades it received. While it is not the best magic movie of the year, it is a remarkably accomplished piece of masterful motion picture making.
Sadly, it's impossible to state how good or bad The Illusionist looks on DVD. Fox, who distributes this title, insists that all review copies sent to critics for consideration be incomplete, non-final product. The result is an image that's pixilated, occasionally murky, and embellished with a rectangular 20th Century logo that pops up at inopportune times across the image. According to online listings, you can buy this film in either a widescreen (1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen)
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Posted by CK-Auctions
I decided to buy this movie after having rented it from Blockbuster. You can't just watch this once, this is a movie to keep! A wonderful love story, very well-defined characters and a twisting plot that has you guessing until the last minute and even then you are truly amazed and surprised. It is set in Vienna and the photography is spellbinding. Ed Norton and Jessica Biel have unbelievable chemistry, Paul Giamatti gives a very strong yet tender performance and the actor playing crown prince Leopold (Rufus Sewell, I think) is the best of all, although you will loathe his pompous, cruel and egotistic character. E. Norton and J. Biel are chldhood friends reunited when he comes to Vienna as Eisenheim the Illusionist. She is set to marry the crown prince when the mystery begins to unfold.
The DVD has behind-the-scenes footage in addition to the feature.
I wasn't that pumped to see this movie but after being talked into it I'm glad I did. Edward Norton is simply amazing (as usual) and Jessica Biel is perfect in every way.
The movie itself is a great story of romance, mystery, and intrigue. The imagery of the film is amazing and it's so well acted and so well put together.
IF you love magic you'll love this film, it's a love story but doesn't really feel like one. It'll keep you on the edge of your seat from beginning to end and it really takes your breath away in certain scenes.
One more shout out and that goes to Paul Giamatti. In case you don't realize it I'll let you in on a little secret... this guy is one of the best actors in Hollywood. He never ceases to amaze me and in the Illusionist he's no different.
Rent or Buy?: I'm going to buy it, I recommend you buy it as well.
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OMG, if you love Edward North as I do then this is another of his great performances. His character of "Eisenheim" was nothing than excellent, playing this early 1900's Illusionist back in Vienna. Now Jessica Beil as his childhood friend and love, who never lost the love for him even though he was force to leave his home and venture out into the world. Eisenheim learn the ways of the east and mastered the Illusions that amazed all of us. Paul Giamatti playing the police chief who at times you think is controller by the evil Crown Prince Leopold, but in the end isn't. I won't tell you more since you must see this movie. The cinematography was excellent and break taking, taking you back to Vienna in the early 1900's.
Is it Magic or Illusions??
One thing is for sure, a movie you must own.. BUY is and you'll be trilled just like all of us.
Another movie you won't want to pass up is the PRESTIGE!!!!
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