FiorentinoFilm StudiesDecember 10, 2018The film The Illusionist is based on the book Eisenheim The Illusionist and was made and directed by Neil Burger in 2006. It takes place in the late nineteenth century in Vienna and starred an illusionist named Eisenheim (Edward Norton) who had been reunited with Sophie, the Duchess von Teschen (Jessica Biel) during one of his shows. Although they had not seen each other in years they had recognized each other right away, for when they were younger they had a secret relationship doomed to failure due to their social classes. But, Sophie was set to be married to Prince Leopold (Rufus Sewell) who only wanted power. He was known to abuse and be violent towards women if he feels he has to, but Sophie knew she loved Eisenheim and he loved her and that she could not leave Leopold without repercussions. There are multiple scenes throughout the film that reveal character and there a couple of important subplots to take notice of.
One scene that reveals a lot about Eisenheim’s character is when he is performing magic tricks in the castle for Prince Leopold and others. Eisenheim performs a trick in which he borrows Leopold’s sword and sticks it into the floor and asks for some volunteers, who think they are worthy, to come and try to pick it up and none are able to. When the trick is over he does not let Leopold pick it up immediately with ease.
In doing this, we see that Eisenheim is courageous because he is essentially challenging the Prince and he made him look like a fool fully knowing what Leopold can have done to him. And, an important subplot noticeable throughout the film is the respect that Eisenheim and Chief Inspector Uhl (Paul Giamatti) have for one another. Throughout the film, we see how Uhl respects him and admires how skilled of a magician he is. Uhl even warns Eisenheim that he should not be messing with Prince Leopold and Sophie because it cannot end well for him because Uhl knows Eisenheim is very talented and does not want to see him fail. In the film, there are some major turning points that occur. The first one that we see is when Eisenheim performs a trick on Sophie and they both realize who the other is. This is significant because it is essentially the reason everything happened because if they never met again they would’ve both carried on with their lives like normal.
I would also like to point out some of the filming techniques used in the film. I noticed that quite often close-ups to medium shots were primarily used in the film. I also noticed there wasn’t many long-shots or extreme long-shots but when they were used I believe they were used well.
So, all in all, I personally feel that this is a good film and would recommend it to anyone especially if they wanted to see a romantic thriller because it touches on both the romance between Eisenheim and Sophie whilst still being able to keep the audience entertained with exciting tricks and scenes. Also, I feel that all of the actors, notably Paul Giamatti, performed very well and really put on a good show. Overall, it is a great film and is a must see.