The Illusionist
The Illusionist

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Certificate: PG | Released: 2006 | Duration: 1 hr 50 mins | Director: Neil Burger | Studio: Momentum Pictures | Genres: Thriller - Drama - Romance

Director Neil Burger's screen adaptation of Steven Millhauser's short story 'Eisenheim the Illusionist'. Eisenheim (Edward Norton) is a magician in early 1900's Vienna, who falls in love with a woman well above his social standing. When she becomes engaged to a Crown Prince, Eisenheim uses his powers to win her back and undermine the stability of the royal house of Vienna.

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Full Plot Details

In turn-of-the-century Vienna, a magician uses his abilities to secure the love of a woman far above his social standing.

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Movie Reviews

San Francisco Chronicle - 7.5/10 by Mick LaSalle A rich and elegant film, full of sly, devious characters with complicated motives.
Chicago Reader - 10.0/10 by Jonathan Rosenbaum A lush piece of romanticism.
Philadelphia Inquirer - 8.8/10 by Steven Rea The less said about the twists and turns The Illusionist takes, the better. Suffice to say, Eisenheim's masterful deceptions do not stop when he exits the stage.
Slate - 8.0/10 by Dana Stevens It's an exquisitely crafted period picture that keeps promising more and more as it goes along--smarter ideas, richer themes, spookier plot twists--and keeps delivering on every promise, right up until the rug-pulling and overly hasty final sequence.
Charlotte Observer - 6.3/10 by Lawrence Toppman The picture feels like an entertaining short story, competently executed at undue length, and that's its origin.
Wall Street Journal - 7.0/10 by Joanne Kaufman It's important to keep in mind that little in The Illusionist is quite what it seems. That goes for the movie itself, fashioned from smoke, mirrors and, fortunately, Mr. Norton's magical performance.
The New York Times - 8.0/10 by Stephen Holden This entertaining movie is content to be something a bit more modest: a pungent period folk tale that teases you until the very end.
The A.V. Club - 6.7/10 by Scott Tobias The results are reasonably clever and impeccably executed, but one of these days, Burger is going to have to pull more from his hat than just the rabbit.

Movie Trivia

  • Jessica Biel replaced Liv Tyler, who dropped out just before filming began.
  • The character of Eisenheim is closely based on the real life magician and clairvoyant Erik Jan Hanussen.
  • The love scene was entirely lit by kerosene lamps. By the end of each take the room was so full of smoke it was difficult to see.
  • Edward Norton managed to perform many of his own magic tricks with the help of British magician James Freedman.

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The Illusionist Awards

Academy Award Nominations: 1

  • 2007: Best Achievement in Cinematography - Dick Pope

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