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Monday, 21 February 2011 16:00

"The Illusionist": a Poignant, Well-Told Gem

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If you prefer the charm of hand-drawn animation to the computer-generated sort, you’ll love The Illusionist. The primary character, an aging and outdated European magician named Tatischeff, plays one-night gigs traveling from town to town and country to country, often being cheated by his employers. Eventually he crosses paths with Alice, a teenager who plays at being grownup, and who believes him to be the magician he once was. Their ensuing adventure together is both humorous and haunting. The movie is enchantingly slow-paced, and the animation and sound styles create a nearly perfect stage for this character-driven story.

Not to be confused with the 2006 movie of the same name starring Edward Norton, this little jewel had very different beginnings. French filmmaker Jacques Tati, voted 46th of the Greatest Movie Directors of all time by Entertainment Weekly, wrote the script for The Illusionist in the late 1950s as a love letter from a father to his daughter, though he never made the movie. Eventually award-winning writer and director Sylvain Chomet acquired it with permission from Tati’s estate, deciding that animation was the best way to tell the tale.

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