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The Magician (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray]
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symbolic...it is a movie that should generate a lot of thinking when it is over.
Ostensibly it is a movie about the continuing conflict between faith and science...or reason and art but there are no quick answers. The character of Dr. Vogler may have been influenced by the myth and fact of Rasputin. Even the look is similar; Max Von Sydow is the "perfect choice of actor" in portraying this hypnotist, con-artist, or real magician.
I never had the sense that the "magic" was real, but persons behave as if the illusions were true. After a cynical medical officer humiliates Dr. Vogler, attempts to prove Vogler is nothing but a charlatan, the magician challenges him for a private performance. And in that performance Dr. Vogler dies and comes back to life again...the metaphor of Christ.
The nature of God requires us to keep on questioning. This was a theme in "The Seventh Seal' and it reappears in this film. Recommended...not as a masterpiece but as an important work of the director.
Of course, this requires a kind of faith, and is open to charges of manipulation, precisely the theme of 'The Magician', a splendid slice of unnerving Grand Guignol horror, where a rather academic argument between the Enlightenment values of sceince, reason and empiricism confront those of superstition, magic and the inexplicable. These latter values might be called medieval, pre-Renaissance, and we are reminded that the modern theatre developed in this period from the Church, from rites and passion plays. this is the kind of effect 'The Magician' has, visually and tonally.
The argument is not between the doctor and the mesmerist, but between the film's surface narrative (which, as an argument, promotes the predominance of reason) and the film's form (which destroys every attempt at argument). Everything within the film that seems to derive from supernatural forces can all be ascribed, more or less, to rational causes, for example psychological weakness; even if it is this very weakness, that border between what we know and what we can't know, in which the mesmerist exists. Although we might say 'Ah, it's only a delusion', the very fact that these self-generated delusions can convincingly take the place of safe, everyday reality, can become that reality, suggests the limits of rationality, without any recourse to the supernatural.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Incredible cinema by Bergman. Much cleaner presentation than old VHS tape version. Plastic case was damaged however.Published 10 days ago by Amazon Customer
This is a comedy, but it isn't difficult to see that it could have been a much more light-hearted movie than it turns out to be. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Stanley Crowe
Brilliant film .its right in the middle. Between high drama and comedy ,it sits in a perfect place on the Bergman shelvePublished 6 months ago by Mitchell L. Ross
Bought this originally in the VHS budget bin in 1984. Awful transfer ,but was interesting and addicting.Then bought Region 2 DVD after 9-11, and was very pleased. Read morePublished 16 months ago by Robert K. Vidervol
Eh? Ho hum story. I got rid of it as was pretty snorish.Published 17 months ago by Thomas Truthsayer
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