The Illusionist

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Re: The Illusionist

Postby Guest » September 6th, 2006, 5:45 am

Originally posted by Gord Gardiner:
Actually I found the locket to be the weakest part of the whole movie. I admit, it's a nifty design and would be a great keepsake, but the picture inside would get mangled...
Ah... I see a nifty magical item in the making here.

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Re: The Illusionist

Postby Guest » September 6th, 2006, 6:20 am

Regarding how to show the Orange Tree Illusion in the movie, it's a tough call. For many, the CGI close-ups were too hyper-realistic, including the butterflies. But undoubtedly, audiences back then saw it as that real. A good move by the film maker (and/or magic consultants) was showing glimpses of the trick's workshop plans, letting the audience know that it was indeed a mechanical illusion.

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Re: The Illusionist

Postby Dustin Stinett » September 6th, 2006, 7:18 am

Originally posted by Doug Peters:
I'm with Gord here: the picture would have been mangled with the special locket design.
Good call: That hadn't even occurred to me.

And I take it they didn't have pants pockets in the 19th century?

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Re: The Illusionist

Postby Guest » September 6th, 2006, 7:52 am

Originally posted by DustinStinett:
And I take it they didn't have pants pockets in the 19th century?
Oh, they most certainly did have pockets in their breeches. What they did not do is to walk around with their hands deep in them; especially in polite company; especially in public.

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Re: The Illusionist

Postby Guest » September 6th, 2006, 7:58 am

Originally posted by Doug Peters:
Originally posted by DustinStinett:
[b] And I take it they didn't have pants pockets in the 19th century?
Oh, they most certainly did have pockets in their breeches. What they did not do is to walk around with their hands deep in them; especially in polite company; especially in public. [/b]
Nor did they roll up their sleeves to the elbow. Was it Downs who pulled off his coat and shirtsleeves to perform almost bare armed?

Once upon a time magicians were among the avanteguard, not merely bohemian.

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Re: The Illusionist

Postby Richard Kaufman » September 6th, 2006, 9:09 am

We don't discuss the locket in our article, so I'll give you some insight into that now. There are, as evidenced by the edit, two lockets. Both were designed by Michael Weber. He told me that it is possible to construct a single locket that will function as shown in the film. It does seem to make sense that the photograph would be in two pieces if you completely closed the locket.
Incidentally, the male hands you see opening the locket in the film are those of James Freedman--not Paul Giamatti.
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Re: The Illusionist

Postby Grant McSorley » September 6th, 2006, 10:49 am

I loved the movie, as did my girlfriend. It would have been great, though, if they could have used an actual orange tree illusion instead of the CGI.

For all those Paul Giamatti fans, if you haven't seen American Splendor, I highly recommend it.

Grant
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Re: The Illusionist

Postby Richard Kaufman » September 6th, 2006, 11:36 am

It is not possible to create the illusion of the Orange Tree which the director wanted to portray using an entirely mechanical tree. You can't begin with a seed.

The Orange Tree as seen in the finished film is roughly 1/3 real and 2/3 CGI. The growth from the seed to the large tree is the CGI part (but it was purposefully done to make it look mechanical--and the plans seen by UHL at the very end of the movie reinforce the mechanical aspect in the audience's mind). The full-size tree is real, not CGI.

The butterflies were real--not CGI.

As the director has stated repeatedly in various interviews, the idea was to ramp up the real magic just enough to make Eisenheim unusually impressive, but not so much that the audience dismissed the magic as entirely false. Interestingly, this is what magicians here seem to be doing.
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Re: The Illusionist

Postby Grant McSorley » September 6th, 2006, 2:37 pm

Actually, it wasn't that the magic seemed like it had to be done with CGI, it simply seemed that that's what they did so that they wouldn't have to go to the trouble of staging the actual effects.

Considering the current state of special effects, I doubt magicians are the only ones assuming some of the more amazing effects are faked.

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Re: The Illusionist

Postby Pete Biro » September 6th, 2006, 3:44 pm

Folks that call themselves "magicians" are the worst at critiquing pro and movie/tv magic.
Stay tooned.

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Re: The Illusionist

Postby Guest » September 6th, 2006, 4:17 pm

Saw it. Loved it. Giamatti never ceases to amaze me with his performances. The ending totally got me, too.

It was so wonderful to go back to a time when a performer didn't need to produce something from a flash of fire half a second after he walked on stage.

I would absolutely go see it again.

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Re: The Illusionist

Postby Guest » September 6th, 2006, 4:22 pm

That, Mr Biro, is called a fallacy :)

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Re: The Illusionist

Postby Guest » September 6th, 2006, 4:49 pm

Originally posted by Pete Biro:
Folks that call themselves "magicians" are the worst at critiquing pro and movie/tv magic.
Stereotype much?
:whack:

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Re: The Illusionist

Postby Pete Biro » September 6th, 2006, 6:31 pm

:whack: :whack:
Stay tooned.

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Re: The Illusionist

Postby Carlo Morpurgo » September 6th, 2006, 8:09 pm

Originally posted by Doug Peters:
I'm with Gord here: the picture would have been mangled with the special locket design. This bothered me, too :)

If the photo is small enough to fit one half of the locket it would not bend...i believe it was actually pretty small in the movie, moving around the locket. Or you can glue two small photos on each half....even better....

Carlo

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Re: The Illusionist

Postby Guest » September 6th, 2006, 9:16 pm

Talking about the locket. The producers missed out on a fine bit of sales with that locket. My wife has mentioned several times since we've seen the movie how much she would like one of them.
Perhaps some enterprising someone will take up the challenge. (With the requisite permission, of course.)

Gord

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Re: The Illusionist

Postby George Olson » September 6th, 2006, 9:38 pm

No nitpicking, or even petty gripes; just a stereo-typical overwhelming sense of thanks for the humor, pathos, romance, mystery, and action in an adventure of the mind. That, and the fact that Ed Norton is a dead ringer for Jim Pace of The Web and Fire Card Case fame.

This is the first theater movie I've seen in over 10 years. What a learning curve -- pop-corn and a "medium" Diet Coke $13.00!

If you haven't seen it go; if you have don't tell anyone about the plot.

GO

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Re: The Illusionist

Postby Guest » September 7th, 2006, 1:01 am

My favorite piece in the film, was the reconstruction of David Devant's Magic Mirror Illusion.
Looking at the photograph in secrets of my magic, and Devants delightfull Delusions, as well as several other books on magical History, I am guessing that it was prety much spot on.

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Re: The Illusionist

Postby Guest » September 7th, 2006, 6:44 am

I absolutely loved it, and was not only surprised by the 'twist' ending, but glad that I was. My friend saw through it, though he'd been warned to watch for it. I was very happy to not see it coming, just as I love being fooled and hope I never lose the ability to do so.

Here's one tiny, tiny thing: did I blink or did they only show the DeKolta chair from the point after the woman was already covered?
I don't recall seeing the woman, only the covered figure...seems odd...

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Re: The Illusionist

Postby Guest » September 7th, 2006, 7:02 am

Yeah to the Dekolta chair, though it was the audience reaction that counts IHMO. Kind of surprised they did not go all the way and also vanish the cloth.

The butterflies were real... perhaps mechanical though certainly not real butterflies. ;)

I'm puzzled about the mirror illusion. Not the interpretation of Pepper's Ghost and the stage setup but the earlier one. As I recall, the apparent size of the reflected image drops as the square of the distance, so what would look right to the person onstage would look very odd to someone in the audience. Likewise what would be visible to someone onstage would almost by definition be blocked to the audience.

Would someone care to offer some more details about the original and its look to the audience?

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Re: The Illusionist

Postby Richard Kaufman » September 7th, 2006, 7:44 am

The DeKolta Chair is cut to in mid-illusion--read more about it in our October issue.

The director has stated that the butterflies are real. Since he's been generally upfront about which things are real, and which were accomplished by CGI, he may be telling the truth here. (Though in one interview he did state the the mirror trick was done live, and was not CGI--but that's obviously not the case considering what we could see because of where the camera is placed at different times).
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Re: The Illusionist

Postby Pete Biro » September 7th, 2006, 9:40 am

Why do we, or anyone, need to know the SECRETS?
Stay tooned.

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Re: The Illusionist

Postby Guest » September 7th, 2006, 10:34 am

A sub rosa theme is contained in the previous postings -- what the audience expects us to deliver in real time as vs. CGI and FX.

The worlds of movie magic, reflective of human imagination and creativity can and usually do far surpass what we as real lifem real time, real budget magicians can present.

That's where the real magic can start for us. We need not compete on a level playing field with movies and TV -- indeed we cannot.

Our stengths need to go beyond the visual, beyond our augmented cued music -- into the emotional. We can include real presence effects (smell/touch) that movies do not. We can change pacing for a variety of audiences, in real time for the mood of the audience.

I believe that if we continually contend with movie and tv (augmented, limited view) effects - we lose. We are reduced back to jugglers and comedians who are amusing rather than amazing.

The crux of the Illusionst's plot revolves around the girl's plaintive cry to make her dissapear -- and the woman's eventual fullfillment of that desire. It is an emotional tap into the magic.

My opinion is that when we, as magicians, tap into the audiences emotionsat an individual level, we succeed more wildly than a generally tuned special effect in the film world.

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Re: The Illusionist

Postby Guest » September 8th, 2006, 1:16 pm

Thanks Richard, I'll look forward to reading that - the Dekolta Chair edit had me wondering through the whole movie.
Of course, the orange was supposed to open and the handkerchief is pulled from the center by the butterflies too, but taht's being very picky I guess. (finally a movie for Houdin groupies!)

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Re: The Illusionist

Postby Steve Snediker » September 9th, 2006, 7:31 am

Originally posted by C.H.Mara:

The crux of the Illusionst's plot revolves around the girl's plaintive cry to make her dissapear -- and the woman's eventual fullfillment of that desire. It is an emotional tap into the magic.
Filmmaking is so much more about "magic" than it is about how to do the magic. Music is so much more about "magic" than about how to play the instrument. Magic is so much more about "magic" than it is about how to do the tricks.

DUH, right?

Unfortunately, if we chose to express ourselves with "art" we will always face the dilemma of melding skill and technique with motivation and meaning. Both are required AND both must "disappear" in the production of a greater mystery which we call ART.

C.H. points us back to the motivation for this entire movie and, frankly, the most sublime part of its art -- "...make me disappear."

Next time you are faced with any artform -- do the M. Scott Peck "Road Less Travelled" thing and turn off the critical voice, if even for a moment. Let the "wonder of it all" work you over and then truly respond to the art. You can critique it for the rest of your days, but that momentary "magic" is a precious gift for you to partake of.

Sorry to rant...

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Re: The Illusionist

Postby Steve Snediker » September 10th, 2006, 5:58 am

Didn't mean to kill the discussion...

Here's an "ON THREAD" question. Several have mentioned the DeKolta Chair and I personally enjoyed the workshop sequences...Will there be a Director's Cut with more illusion and behind the scenes kind of stuff? Anyone know?

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Re: The Illusionist

Postby Richard Kaufman » September 10th, 2006, 7:34 am

The amount of money and attention they devote to the future DVD release is directly related to 1) how well it does in the theater, and 2) how many DVDs they think they can sell.
Also, if the director and stars are willing to participate (and if their schedules allow them to do so), you will see a better product.
I think there's a good chance of a decent DVD release because it's a good film and is being well received. Also, Norton seems genuinely pleased with it--that always helps.
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Re: The Illusionist

Postby Guest » September 17th, 2006, 8:39 am

Great film! I particularly liked Robert Houdin's light and heavy chest aspect employed with the sword using the relatively unknown concept (in the 18th century) of electomagnetism.

I overheard one lady on the way out of the theater stating, "This is my new favorite movie!"

I can hardly wait for the write up in Genii. Thanks Richard!

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Re: The Illusionist

Postby Guest » January 14th, 2007, 8:59 am

I finally saw this, on DVD. On my home theater system. Overall it's a beautiful movie, and the acting, (particularly Norton's) is splendid. But I was unimpressed with the plot. No amount of suspension of disbelief that I could generate could account for the impossibiity of the magic shown, as well as the problems with the viability of the the major plot twist.

The one thing the movie DID do for me is remind me how good 'real magic' would look to viewers.

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Re: The Illusionist

Postby Guest » January 14th, 2007, 9:56 am

Originally posted by Steve Snediker:
...we will always face the dilemma of melding skill and technique with motivation and meaning. ...
The former (skill - technique) exists ONLY in backstage frame of the performer while the latter (motivation - meaning) exists for the audience.

Gotta pick a frame of reference.

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Re: The Illusionist

Postby Guest » January 14th, 2007, 12:12 pm

Originally posted by MJ Marrs:
Great film! I particularly liked Robert Houdin's light and heavy chest aspect employed with the sword using the relatively unknown concept (in the 18th century) of electomagnetism.

This was supposed to have taken place around 1900.

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Re: The Illusionist

Postby Richard Kaufman » January 14th, 2007, 12:23 pm

Robert, you've missed the point that the magic in the film is shown from the spectator's viewpoint--it's an impressionistic view of what they believe they see. And it adheres very closely to this, even to the part where the little boy runs down the aisle of the theater. It's an admirable and interesting concept, even if it's not apparent to every magician who views the film (laymen, of course, have no problem with the "reality" of the magic).
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Re: The Illusionist

Postby Guest » January 14th, 2007, 4:17 pm

Richard, thanks, I undertand that for many of the scenes, but there are transitional scenes such as the vanish which aren't in any way viable. As I watched the movie I kept wondering if this was supposed to be about a stage or real magician. While that may be the aspect of which you wrote above, it was not firm enough in intent that I was able to buy it. Later, when 'a death' occurs, I was sitting there thinking 'nawwww'...then eventually 'ok, I guess so...' then later something else again.

I don't mind surprises, but they need to not jerk the viewer around. An example would be the movie Fight Club (coincidentally also with Edward Norton) which starts as one thing then transitions to another. But it doesn't transition back and forth.

If it's going to be about supernatural magic, fine. If it's going to be about performance magic, then it needs to be a bit less grandiose. Particularly since I'm willing to bet that various famous historical impossibilites were the result of staged press rather than actual audience experience.

If the story wanted to be about what the audience thought then they needed to leave the subplot which involves the final three minutes or so out. The whole thing reminds me of a "and then I woke up" kind of deus ex machina ending.

The "NO ONE knows how he does it" thing is another example of this annoying duality. Regardless of how lay a person is I don't see how they could buy into the assistants not knowing, or the main characters believing the assistants don't know. The orange tree is one thing. The main effcts are a whole 'nother thing.

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Re: The Illusionist

Postby Guest » January 14th, 2007, 4:51 pm

Well,
some days ago i received "THE ILLUSIONIST" in DvD, from U.S.A.
Here in Italy it isn't still out in theatres, while "The Prestige" is out in theatres.
I have to say that i loved "The Illusionist" very much.
Great actors, especially Mr.Giamatti!!
The ending was very very nice, in my opinion.
I think the movie is very well constructed, and i agree with Mr.Kaufman opinion that the magic effects are bigger and a little magnified because they're seen as the spectators of that period would see such effects.
And i think it is a great idea!
I notice that magicians do the error to compare this film to a magic show.
But "The Illusionist" is a movie, first.
And movies are made of dreams and everything in the movies should be bigger than real life.
And i also like the idea that some mystery lingers..
Well..
9 out of ten stars for the Illusionist!!

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Re: The Illusionist

Postby Guest » January 14th, 2007, 5:07 pm

Originally posted by Robert Allen:
Richard, thanks, I undertand that for many of the scenes, but there are transitional scenes such as the vanish which aren't in any way viable. ...
Viable from whose perspective?

Much of the story is "as told by" the detective.

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Re: The Illusionist

Postby Richard Kaufman » January 14th, 2007, 5:47 pm

There is absolutely nothing supernatural about anything in the film "The Illusionist." While the director toys with you during the course of the film about whether things are real or not, by the end of the film it is pretty plainly laid out that everything is heightened realism and there is nothing supernatural about anything that you've seen.
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Re: The Illusionist

Postby Guest » January 14th, 2007, 7:51 pm

Viable in terms of "there's no way that two characters could be on stage and have the guy walk by them like that and then disappear like that." I.e. it's inconsistant.

Richard, I didn't mean to imply that there was supposed to be anything supernatural in the film, but rather that the film itself could not seem to walk the line between 'real' and 'supernatural'. I.e. it bent it's own rules about the reality it was set in.

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Re: The Illusionist

Postby Richard Kaufman » January 14th, 2007, 8:05 pm

I disagree: when you understand that the magical events are shown as they might be understood to be seen by laymen, and mechanical devices or explanations elsewhere in the film could account for these things, then it makes perfect sense to me.
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Re: The Illusionist

Postby Guest » January 14th, 2007, 8:53 pm

I just saw the film and I loved it, and I totally agree with Richard. His point that the magic is 'as perceived by the spectator' is dead-on, in my opinion. It is a virtual given that magicians/hobbyists, etc. lose their sense of wonder early on...not our enjoyment; we still delight in being fooled by a great trick, and who hasn't been fried by a terrific effect, and spent weeks -both frustrated and delighted- trying to figure it out?

But this delight never reaches the level of wonder that a spectator can still attain; where something they've seen is so extraordinary that not only can they not fathom how it could possibly be done...but- this is rare, of course- they actually entertain a doubt that it COULD be done by other than supernatural means.

The magic scenes in the film, to me, portray this beautifully; the sense that "this can't be happening!" I feel that if it weren't done in this way, it wouldn't have come off the same.

Great point, Richard.

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Re: The Illusionist

Postby Richard Kaufman » January 14th, 2007, 9:04 pm

I must add that it isn't my "point"--this was stated quite clearly by the director, Neil Burger, in our interview in Genii. It's his point of view about how the magic should be shown that made the film so successful.
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