Derren Brown - A Trick of the Mind

Discussions of new films, books, television shows, and media indirectly related to magic and magicians. For example, there may be a book on mnemonics or theatrical technique we should know or at least know about.

Postby Guest » 04/24/04 06:35 AM

I'm new to the forum and relatively new to magic, so I don't know how well Derren's work is received on here, but his new show screened on Channel 4 in the UK last night.

Excellent opener with a bit of everything from a long-distance quick hypnotism to on-street mentalism routines plus a first public TV airing (I think) of his magnificent and hair-tearingly simple card effect "Smoke".

He also pulled a very neat trick playing nine chess experts the same time and came away having won four games, drawn three and lost two - two of those wins over Grandmasters.

He did go on to explain how it worked, but wrapped it up with a simple sealed envelope prediction which was left hanging (with a brilliant touch of getting it ever-so slightly wrong to add to the confusion - is this magic or mentalism?)
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Postby Matthew Field » 04/24/04 07:48 AM

Originally posted by Beam Sturge:
I'm new to the forum and relatively new to magic, so I don't know how well Derren's work is received on here,
Derren's work is very well received here, at least by me. He has an engaging stage presence, his magic skills are excellent, and his books and videos reveal a deep and thoughful mind.

I am encouraged that cerebral mentalism and magic can thrive, at least in England.

Thanks for the report on the TV show.

Matt Field
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Postby John McDonald » 04/24/04 10:15 AM

I felt the show was superb

Effect one - making a London cabbie forget a well known London landmark. Derren asked for the cabbie to take him to the London Eye and he talked about losing the wheel off a toy car and looking for ages for it, the cabbie couldn't remember where the London Eye was, despite the camera showing it no more than 200m away.

Effect two Smoke from one of his books.

Effect three Derren got a woman to read a stranger's mind on the streets of London.

Effect four - how many fingers am I holding up game.

Finally Derren played chess simultaneously against 9 of the best players in England, he managed to beat 4, draw 2 and lose to 3. He then went on to explain his method - essentially making players play against each other and winning the final game himself. Finally he revealed the number of pieces left had been written down on a prediction which he had handed to one of the grnadmasters previously.

Watching the show last night I was reminded of David Berglas. Derren's success I believe is due to the fact that Like Berglas before him he has the personality and presence to make people believe. People suspend their disbelief for him because they want to. A great perfomer.
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Postby mrgoat » 05/17/04 05:46 AM

Originally posted by Matthew Field:
Originally posted by Beam Sturge:
[b] I'm new to the forum and relatively new to magic, so I don't know how well Derren's work is received on here,
Derren's work is very well received here, at least by me. He has an engaging stage presence, his magic skills are excellent, and his books and videos reveal a deep and thoughful mind.

I am encouraged that cerebral mentalism and magic can thrive, at least in England.
[/b]
Thing is, and don't get me wrong, I love his work and have the books, video, seen the stage show etc. But...he really cheats.

How much preshow work is acceptable?

You see an effect, like say the invisible man one from this series, and you know he had to do alot of preshow to get this right.

I am not certain and don't know how this worked, but I bet you it was preshow stuff. In his live show he relies on preshow work for the most jaw-dropping moments.

Is this the same as using a one way deck?

Invisible thread?

If there is no 'too far' then why not use stooges? What is the difference in effect to the audience from preshow to stooges?

Is not the effect the important thing?

If the effect is all that matters, is no cheating going too far?

Damian
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Postby Guest » 05/17/04 03:38 PM

No, no cheating is going too far. But I think you're jumping to a conclusion about his methods a bit too quickly. Pre show work is perfectly acceptible, and even if Derren does as much as you're saying he does, he's damn good at it. Simply stooging people is not done because it's impractical. And what's wrong with a one-way deck? Paul Harris mentions an incident at the beginning of one of the AoA books wherein him and a friend fried Grippo with a one-way deck. Do you expect us to do actual magic?
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Postby mrgoat » 05/20/04 06:03 AM

Originally posted by Jakob Liljenwall:
No, no cheating is going too far. But I think you're jumping to a conclusion about his methods a bit too quickly. Pre show work is perfectly acceptible, and even if Derren does as much as you're saying he does, he's damn good at it. Simply stooging people is not done because it's impractical. And what's wrong with a one-way deck? Paul Harris mentions an incident at the beginning of one of the AoA books wherein him and a friend fried Grippo with a one-way deck. Do you expect us to do actual magic?
Stooging people is alot more practical than taking 30 mins before a show to do preshow stuff. One stooge, already knows what to do, off you go.

I know for a fact this is how long he spent on his recent tour as my friend was preshowed.

I didn't suggest anything was wrong with a one way deck, or cheating totally.

I just wondered what people thought was going to far.

Personally, its the effect that counts and I think you can achieve this through whatever means you see fit. But somehow, preshow work seems a little, well, dirty.
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Postby Guest » 05/20/04 07:08 AM

It's all about how the audience view the finished effect.

David Blaine's street levitation is a case in point.

Perhaps we, as magicians, are too concerned with the method to fully appreciate the power of the show to a layman?
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Postby Guest » 05/20/04 10:24 AM

Went to see Derren the other week live.

Absolutely stunning, and even though I've have a fiar idea of several of the effects, he always manages to add an extra twist to most tricks which leaves your head spinning.

He also has several routines on the go at any one time so to leave even the informed viewer unable to catch his techiniques in a flurry of misdirection.

A rough guide to the show - can't fully remember the order though.

Effect 1

Derren talks off-stage and gets a paper ball thrown around audience - someone stands up and has to pick a shape from a board on stage. The open paperball up to reveal it predicts the shape they'd pick.

Effect 2

Derren signiture "Which hand is the coin in" routine - firstly involving the entire audience.

Effect 3 (ongoing throughout first half)

Puts 500 pounds in an envelope and a picture of his parrot in the other - gets the coin volunteer to decide on one and put them in two stands on either side of the stage - he keeps coming back to the volunteer asking them if they want to change their mind throughout.

Effect 4/5 (simultaneous)

Gets a volunteer to draw a picture and then draws it himself while at the same time guessing the name of a person another volunteer went to school with just by looking at them.

Effect 6

Automatic writing/mind reading invovling two volunteers - one thinks of a number the other writes it down while in a trance.

Effect 7

Memory feat - says he's memorised the whole phone book of the town or city he's in and then gets volunteers to give their names and initials and sometimes address - he recites their phone number. For a florish he gets out the phone book, gives it to a volunteer and then recites not only a new volunteers number, but the one above, the one below,the page number it's on and which collumn it's in.

Finally he finishes with the conclusion of envelope routine with some very clever pyschobabble and of course the volunteer picks the picture of the parrot.


The second half of the show is much much darker and in many ways much more impressive, but Derren specifically asks people not to talk about it or reveal any details - something to this day I've not heard anyone do.
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Postby Guest » 05/20/04 10:26 AM

PS he's got a TV special on at the end of this month.

It's a live seance, although he's openly admitting he's a sceptic and will be using classic techniques and tricks to see how suseptable a modern audience is to them.

It'll be the first ever on British TV because of strict broadcasting laws concerning spritulistic maters.
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Postby Guest » 05/24/04 01:48 AM

Did anyone see the show on friday night on channel 4. The undertaker trick was great, the best part was at the end when he gave a `nod' as to the method used. Great to see that he a acknowledged this.

David
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Postby Steve Bryant » 05/24/04 08:42 AM

We'd love to hear a description of the show. In the "good old days," when tv magic specials were rare, Bill Larsen would post complete reviews (for example, of the Doug Henning specials) in Genii for the record.
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Postby Guest » 05/24/04 08:48 AM

I'm pretty sure someone has done a review on the magic cafe if you do a search.
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Postby Guest » 05/24/04 10:41 AM

Is there any plans for this fellows specials to show in the US or to make an US show?
Steve V
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Postby Guest » 05/25/04 06:40 AM

not at this time.
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Postby Guest » 05/25/04 01:14 PM

According to a Q and A on his website forum he is considering taking the live show to America.

If you have a multi-region DVD then pick up a copy of his Inside Your Mind DVD from amazon.co.uk.

A best of the first three TV specials and the series.

Great commentary too where he does go into quite a bit of detail about the routines.
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Postby mrgoat » 05/26/04 06:42 AM

Originally posted by david goring:
Did anyone see the show on friday night on channel 4. The undertaker trick was great, the best part was at the end when he gave a `nod' as to the method used. Great to see that he a acknowledged this.

David
That made me laugh out loud. My gf was saying 'what, what's so funny?'

Some things just can't be explained!

Beautiful presentation though.
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Postby Guest » 05/26/04 08:38 AM

Same here my wife was `what are you laughing at' I tried to explain it was a famous trick that fooled Winston Churchil during the second world war. I gave up after about 30 seconds.
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