A must have for your DVD collection!
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.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful.
the Illusionist Posted by CK-Auctions
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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3 of 7 people found this review helpful.
All Is Not What It Seems / Is That All There Is?
"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
13 of 20 people found this review helpful.
What a nice little movie this turned out to be! Edward Norton, we missed you. Where have you been, pal? So anyway, Norton plays an illusionist who goes by the awesome name of Eisenheim. During his childhood, he fell in love with a girl named Sophie who happens to be very upper class. They attempt to run away together but their plans are foiled by adults who don't want them together.
Years later, Eisenheim has developed quite a reputation and Crown Prince Leopold (Rufus Sewell) comes to see his performance. He asks for a volunteer from the audience and the prince volunteers his fiancé, Sophie (Jessica Biel). The prince becomes convinced he can figure out any trick from Eisenheim and during a private performance at his home, he's proven to be a fool in front of his guests. Sophie and Eisenheim begin to meet privately because she knows the prince is bad for the country and she wants to get away from society life. Before they can carry out their plan, she is murdered, apparently by the jealous prince. Eisenheim is heartbroken and begins having performances of dead spirits appearing before the audience which makes him more popular than ever. Sophie's spirit appears making the audience question who murdered her. The entire movie, Inspector Uhl (Paul Giamatti) who works for the prince follows Eisenheim around trying to discover his tricks and persuade him not to challenge the prince. The prince wants Eisenheim taken into custody for disturbing the public with his performances. As they approach to take him in, he becomes transparent and vanishes himself!
Now I won't tell you any more about the ending because it's just to fun to watch. The special effects are amazing in this movie. It really does seem like magic. Edward Norton is wonderful as always, sporting an accent and a calm demeanor that makes you wonder what's going on beneath. Paul Giamatti is characteristically gruff, at times difficult to understand and awkward. I have to say I'm not a big fan of his work just on account of the fact that all his characters I have seen tend to be the grown-up version of that awkward kid in high school who had trouble making friends. Why is he always feel like an outcast even when, in this case, he's in the prince's pocket? Jessica Biel is beautiful and keeps it simple which seems to be the best way to play it in this case. Rufus Sewell (wow.....what a scary name) as the prince does a good job in the beginning and creates an arc towards a great villian.....but I felt like he could have done more. Been a little more menacing, a little more crazy even. Don't hold back, man! Playing villians is supposed to be more fun!
All in all, this was a very fun movie and I personally give it a B++. If the other two guys had been a little sharper, I could've been persuaded to give an A-.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful.
The Illusionist - One of the best movies I have seen
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.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful.