The Illusionist Review
“As For The Film, The Illusionist Is A Beautifully Told Tale About The Journey Into Self-discovery And How Entertainment Will Always Be There When Needed But Not The Entertainer Himself.”
September 14th, 2013
Let's go back to a time where life was simple. A time where circus performers, magicians, illusionists, clowns and jogglers use their unique talents to entertain the masses of children and adults during depressing and harsh times of political debates, propaganda, racism, wars and violence that has been happening across the world. It was a happy time for these performers of entertainment to just show off some fascinating tricks for the audience to be amazed and applaud for their talents and it looked like these performers were here to stay for the rest of our lives but throughout history, something much more popular and cool came along that will put the performers into shame such as TV, popularity of boy bands, music concerts, movies, radios and many forms of entertainment that we have in the current generation of entertainment. Thanks to all these new things that we have in the medium of entertainment, people no longer need performers to entertain us because we now have phones that allows us to do internet and watch videos, game consoles that let us play interactive games (Go 90's and 80's gaming!) and TV's that come with internet and stuff. As for the performers of entertainment, they're out there trying to find a way to move forward with some looking for different jobs or others commit suicide because they either fall to depression or can't no longer live a life of pain and loneliness. Isn't life a bitch?
That is the theme for The Illusionist and not the one with Edward Norton but the 2010 Academy Award Nominated animated film that lost to Toy Story 3 because in Oscars, Golden Globes and Academy Awards ceremonies, Pixar must always win in the Best Animated Feature category every year cause to their eyes, "Pixar is full of perfection and can do no wrong!"... Right. Anyway, The Illusionist is a film based on a script that was written by Tati to reconnect his estranged daughter, Helga Marie-Jeanne Schiel, whom he had abandoned her as a baby and the changes that director Slvian Chomet caused a lot of controversy over the changes of Tati's original screenplay that Helga blamed Chovet for "butchering the painful family of their ancestors", even though Tati's daugther, Sophie Tatischeff, handed the script to Chovet because she felt that he could bring the story justice to his father and translate his story to the big screen. Yeah, it was one hell of a controversy at the time of the production and release of The Illusionist but honestly, it's better for you to read about the controversy on Wikipedia because I have a film to review and I don't want to spend every sentence that I write talking about the controversy. As for the film, The Illusionist is a beautifully told tale about the journey into self discovery and how entertainment will always be there when needed but not the entertainer himself.
The story is about a "down to his luck" old magician who is struggling to win money with his magic tricks but with the rise of boy bands, music and other forms of entertainment, it seems that his career as an illusionist is at a dead end. With no choice left, he tries to go to different places to earn money and win the hearts of people with his tricks as he travels to London and Scotland to try his best of having a name for himself. That is until he meets Alice, a young poor girl that thinks that the man is a real magician and decides to go along with the magician on his journey to other places. Later on, we get to see more performers living in a hotel with a man that has a puppet, circus acrobats and a clown who fell into depression and who barely smiles in his life. The rest of the film is a journey of discovering our inner-self and how we must move on in life rather than just doing the same thing we do over and over again.
I simply love the movie as you can simply tell from the rating I gave for the film. The story is simple yet very moving and touching as we see the characters trying their best to get a name for themselves in the entertainment industry but in the end, it's entertainment that will be needed for the masses, not the actual entertainer, leaving them with no choice but to either move on to other jobs that can use their abilities of entertainment into good use or just give up and take your own life in the process. The characters are very easy to like and all of these characters have wonderful personalities without the need of sound or dialogue, it only uses expressions and emotions to make the characters feel more natural. The animation is fantastic and full of wonderful detail into the 2D animation with it's unique style of colors and designs into the characters to the lavishing backgrounds of London, England and Scotland, the art style just hits you with such beauty that it puts a smile on my face on why I love hand-drawn animation in the first place. The music is calming, smoothing and depressing with piano tracks that range from different tones from happy to sad to just downright haunting and lonely that fits perfectly into each moment of sadness, depression and despair.
Now, the thing that people want to know the most is the ending and what do I think about the ending because a lot of people complained that the ending was awful and that it made the magician into a complete bastard in the end. Personally, the ending for the film was perfect because of 2 things. Also, *SPOILERS AHEAD*:
1). It clearly shows the guilt and determination of the magician making the difficult choice of abandoning Alice because at first, he and Alice are having a good time and at the same time, the magician was making some decent money. However as days passed by, the magician loses his job and has no money to provide clothes, shoes or food for Alice, so in the end, he decides to leave his profession as an illusionist behind because nobody wants performers in the entertainment business anymore and the other performers in the hotel either got booted out of the hotel because they didn't have money to pay the rent and have no choice but to live on the streets to ask for change or again, commit suicide in the process like the clown. If you paid attention to the expression on the magician's face, you can clearly see that he does feel guilty for leaving Alice but he had no choice but to leave her behind and still try to find a way to move on in life. Don't get me wrong, I hate seeing parents abandoning their children in the streets but if you were faced with this decision of abandoning your own son or daughter because you have no job or money to protect them, what will you do in that same situation as the magician faced in this film?
2). While the character Alice is now alone, she meets a man that has an interest in her and Alice moves on with her new love in London together. Again, if you paid attention to the expression of the character, you can see Alice's emotions on how she thought about him leaving her behind all alone in this big city without him at her side. She first thought that he didn't want her at her side but her expression changed later on into thinking that maybe he did it for the best of her because she realized that he can't make her life easy because he is not a powerful rich magician, he is just a professional magician that is struggling to live on with life, just like Alice and in the end, her new life will start a new one because she now meet a handsome and good mannered man that likes Alice and that wants to spend every moment with Alice for the rest of his life. It's sad to see Alice alone but on the bright side, she now has someone that likes her and now she can be together with a new love one in London.
So yes, I found the ending to be extremely heartbreaking, haunting and very beautiful at the same time. If you have a problem with me liking the ending then I suggest you watch the film again and paid extreme close attention into the characters expressions and how they feel. Otherwise, don't bother throw a hissy fit on me on liking the ending. In the end, The Illusionist is a fantastic, engaging film that manages to make a very simple story filled with great characters and powerful emotions with only the use of expressions and emotions with no use of sound or dialogue. It is great to see animators using different methods of storytelling in animation to tell their story into the big screen and I hope we get to see more creative 2D animated films in the future.