The Illusionist (2006) – Nothing Is What It Seems

Neil Burger’s “The Illusionist” was originally a cheesy and very ordinary romance movie. However, a brilliant twist is still waiting for you who haven’t watched it or dropped this illusion movie. The impression is unpredictable, hypnotize you, and truly an “illusion” that controls it. Regardless, Nolan’s “The Prestige” sharing a similar resemblance concept. If you look closely, then you will find the hole.

It tells the story about a genius illusionist named Eisenheim (Edward Norton). At first, he was just an ordinary wood craftsman. His expertise attracts the attention of a noble girl named Sophie (Jessica Biel). Next, they were dating. But, their relationship opposed because of the different caste in Vienna, the late nineteenth century. Even though like which, they were still in touch and plan to run away.

Unfortunately, people discovered them and finally separated. Before the farewell, Edward made Sophie a pendant. The pendant can change its shape. When it modified, there will be a photo. And that’s when Edward went traveling all over the world for 15 years. For quite a long time, he studied magic and had his own theater. His performance often successful and in the end, he returned to Vienna. At the time, people have known him as the Illusionist.

On the other hand, he met Sophie again and began to reminisce. It’s just that, Sophie has been fiancee with Crown Prince Leopold (Rufus Sewell). He famously cruel so they both planned to run away for a second time. However, the kingdom had an intelligence headed by Inspector Uhl (Paul Giamatti). Little by little, the inspector began to suspect their relationship between both of them. The prince also feels furious at the news. He insisted to Eisenheim’s magic efforts. He must stop him.

So far, “The Illusionist” is known as a film that changes CGI to a whole level. Roger Ebert said that film is an illusion. They are nothing more than a moving image. They are just a moving projection of 24 frames per second. Films are made with the help of lenses, glass, and other reflections so as to produce a trick for the human mind. This is also what is often highlighted in Burges’s film. It’s the center of an illusion. There is a resemblance between film and magic as well as an image of a medium. It is to manipulate the audience into storytelling about politics, belief, and also romance.

The ending is still one of the most scarce, especially in magic films. But, that’s still not how it is because how could you raise a dead spirit? Or speed up the growth of an orange tree? It’s a deceptive illusion that we don’t believe it’s real or there were tricks. It also has a great character formation. The makeup and acting are very animating. Rufus Sewell, only with a thick mustache, is a character with cold hands. His characteristics caused controversy and he was even described as an ambitious yet evil person.

Paul Giamatti is so interesting. He is a character with the most important roles and is also a narrator regardless of the film runs non-linearly. The character is quite convincing. We know that he is a good and honest person. Even so, he was forced to become a bad person who had fallen into the Illusionist’s illusion trap. Edward Norton is spectacular. Sometimes, he acts out of character as if he is not the protagonist. Even in the ending, I think he is the antagonist in this film when compared to Leopold and Uhl. Jessica Biel is not too prominent and her role is just a side character.

Apart from the ending which is truly beyond imagination, this is also a typical story about romance. On the other hand, this film has a decent background. Burges managed to describe a world in the 19th century that was so thick and traditional. “The Illusionist” is a film about magic and an imaginative ending with political spices, complexity, religion, belief, and so on.

4 out of 5 stars.

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