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The Illusionist (Full Screen Edition)

4.5 out of 5 stars 927 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

A supernatural mystery that combines romance, politics and magic, The Illusionist is the latest film from the producers of the Oscar winners Crash and Sideways. The film stars Academy Award nominees Edward Norton and Paul Giamatti as two men pitted against each other in a battle of wits: Norton as mysterious stage magician Eisenheim, and Giamatti as Vienna's shrewd Chief Inspector Uhl, with Jessica Biel sharing the screen as the beautiful Sophie von Teschen. When word of Eisenheim's astounding illusions reaches the powerful and pragmatic Crown Prince Leopold (Rufus Sewell), the ruler attends one of the magician's shows in order to debunk Eisenheim during the performance. But when the Prince's intended, Sophie von Teschen, assists the magician onstage, Eisenheim and Sophie recognize each other from their childhoods

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First screened in Europe and scheduled for limited release in the U.S., The Illusionist offers welcome proof that "arthouse" quality needn't be limited to the arthouses. Set in turn-of-the-century Vienna, this stately, elegant period film benefited from a crossover release in mainstream cinemas, and showed considerable box-office staying power--granted, teenage mallrats and lusty males may have been drawn to the allure of Seventh Heaven alumna Jessica Biel, who rises to the occasion with a fine performance. But there's equal appeal in the casting of Edward Norton and Paul Giamatti, who bring their formidable talents to bear on the intriguing tale of a celebrated magician named Eisenheim (Norton) whose stage performance offends the Crown Prince Leopold (Rufus Sewell), a vindictive lout who aims to marry Duchess Sophie (Biel), Eisenheim's childhood friend and now, 15 years later, his would-be lover. This romantic rivalry and Eisenheim's increasingly enigmatic craft of illusion are investigated by Chief Inspector Uhl (Giamatti), who's under Leopold's command and is therefore not to be trusted as Eisenheim and Sophie draw closer to their inevitable reunion. Cleverly adapted by director Neil Burger from Steven Millhauser's short story "Eisenheim the Illusionist," and boasting exquisite production values and a fine score by Philip Glass, The Illusionist is the kind of class act that fully deserved its unusually wide and appreciative audience. -- Jeff Shannon

Beyond The Illusionist


"Eisenheim the Illusionist" and Other Stories



Paul Giamatti in a More Loveable Role

Magic Kits & Accessories
Stills from The Illusionist








Special Features

  • Making of The Illusionist Featurette
  • Jessica Biel on The Illusionist
  • Theatrical Trailer

Product Details

  • Actors: Edward Norton, Jessica Biel, Paul Giamatti, Rufus Sewell, Eddie Marsan
  • Directors: Neil Burger
  • Writers: Neil Burger, Steven Millhauser
  • Producers: Bob Yari, Brian Koppelman, Cathy Schulman, Chris Miller, David Levien
  • Format: Multiple Formats, DTS Surround Sound, Color, Dolby, Dubbed, Full Screen, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish
  • Dubbed: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    PG-13
    Parental Guidance Suggested
  • Studio: 20th Century Fox
  • DVD Release Date: January 9, 2007
  • Run Time: 110 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (927 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000K7VHPU
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #68,921 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Illusionist (Full Screen Edition)" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
This is an excellent gothic thriller based on the short story by Steven Millhauser, Eisenheim The Illusionist, set in late 19th century Vienna about the son of a young cabinetmaker who falls in love with a young Viennese aristocrat and is banned from seeing her as he is a basic commoner. As the legend goes about the young lad, he meets a travelling magician on the road who shows him the secrets of illusion, where he sets off to exotic lands to learn the mysteries of life. He returns to Vienna after his travels and opens a show in the great city to astonish not only Vienna's common public with his quasi supernatural illusions, but also Crown Prince Rudolf, son of Emperor Franz Josef who then reigned over the Austrian Hungarian Empire.

Originally the short story was written as a political criticism of the Monarchy, based on the scandalous incident, where the bodies of Rudolf and his mistress, Baroness Mary Vetsera were found shot in a Royal hunting lodge, apparently a murder suicide which the Royal family kept from the public for many years.

Edward Norton as Eisenheim is understated and brilliant, as the many sleight of hand tricks in the film were actually done by the gifted actor. Norton must have practiced for months to reveal such confidence and skill needed for these types of trick. However, Norton's character portrayed a perfect man of mystery, begging the question, are these mere illusions or does Eisenheim possess supernatural power, controlling matter, energy, space and time itself.

The special effects in this film are well done.
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Set in Vienna, filmed in Prague,and just about as lovely as anything I've seen on the large screen, "The Illusionist" stars Edward Norton as a charismatic magician, and Jessica Biel as his high-born love interest. In keeping with its magic and later, occult, theme, the film unwinds through shadow and darkness, like a carriage being horsedrawn through fin-de-siecle Europe's narrow streets. Philip Glass's minimalist score, rather than acting as an anachronism as one might expect, enhances the ethereal, other-worldly quality. Edward Norton brings to Eisenheim, the central character (the book is based on the short story "Eisenheim, the Illusionist", by Steven Millhauser)an understated quality that adds to the sense that he always knows more than we do...and more than the characters in the film, including the two that most want to undo his works of magic, Inspector Uhl and Crown Prince Leopold. Unfortunately, the latter is engaged to Dutchess Sophie van Teschen, Biel's character. Leopold's intent is not only to prevent his lower class rival's success, but to control Sophie completely. Uhl, on the other hand, continues to respect Eisenheim, even as he is carrying out the Crown Prince's orders to shut the magician's show down.

As the tale unwinds (and it does ever more quickly as it moves toward the end), we do learn more and more about what lies behind Eisenheim's sad eyes. When Sophie's body turns up in the river after an argument with Leopold, Eisenheim's shows take on a dark change and he becomes kind of a "John Edwards" of the 19th century...but this John Edwards can summon holographic ghosts onto the stage, much to the delight of his audience. Is he becoming more and more obsessed and perhaps insane as Sophie begins to appear in these seances?
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Format: Blu-ray Verified Purchase
The Illusionist is one of my favorite films. A unique magic/mystery/love story that is wonderfully written, perfectly cast and excellently directed and acted. The blu-ray is a solid improvement over the dvd, however, because the film was shot in a bit of a soft-focus way, it may not come across as razor-sharp as the newer blu-rays. Still, its well worth an upgrade from the dvd for such an excellent movie.

My only criticism is with the rest of the blu-ray treatment. While the picture and sound are excellent, everything else is an embarrassment. There is no main menu, no chapter selection or bookmarks, and no special features on the blu-ray disc. Just a garish intro page telling the viewer that they can access the specifications by pressing the top-menu button. That gives you access only to the audio setting. And there are no subtitle options either. Madness! Subtitles actually would help occasionally on this particular film as sometimes the actors are speaking quietly and are difficult to hear, and what they are saying is important to the mystery of the film.

This set includes the original dvd disc which DOES have a main menu with all the expected options, so the buyer gets a bizarre combination of a blu-ray disc with nothing but a hi-def picture, and a vastly inferior standard-def disc that treats the film with at least a little of the respect that it richly deserves.

In the end, I'm glad to finally have a hi-def version of The Illusionist, but I'm baffled and frustrated that Fox treated it with such contempt.
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