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The heart blood of a virgin. That's what deranged medical student Oliver Haddo needs for his malevolent scheme to create life. He finds it in a lovely sculptor he hypnotizes and spirits off to an ancient sorcerer's tower, preparing to rip her heart from her living body. Filmmaker Rex Ingram (The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse) cast his wife and frequent leading lady Alice Terry and Paul Wegener, who terrified movie audiences in The Golem, in this seminal horror-fantasy film based on a novel by W. Somerset Maugham.
Bizarre, nightmarish, enhanced by top production values and elegant European locations, The Magician is a must for any fan of the horror genre - or of imaginative moviemaking.
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Veteran German actor, Paul Wegener, who already featured in some earlier horror films such as The Golem (1920) and The Student of Prague (1913), is perfect in the role of Oliver Haddo, the magician obsessed with creating new human life by means of alchemy and ancient magic. When the formula for such magic calls for the heart of a blonde and blue-eyed virgin, he plots the process of abducting such a young woman by means of hypnotism and mind control. The story is very reminiscent of the character, Svengali, who featured in an excellent early silent film, Trilby (1915) by Maurice Tourneur, and who was played by John Barrymore in the early sound film, Svengali (1931).
The young woman in question is played by Alice Terry, who starred in several outstanding productions in the 1920s, co-starring in some with silent screen legend, Rudolph Valentino, and often directed by Rex Ingram, who adapted this story for the screen and supervised the direction. This combination of skills and talent makes The Magician more than just a horror movie or average silent film, which is evident in the quality sets and charming street scenes of Paris, as well as the romance between the girl, Margaret, and the surgeon who saves her from being a cripple and then falls in love with her.
The film itself is in very good condition, and features some appropriate red tinting in several scenes of fire and hell. But the final touch that greatly enhances this film is the musical score by Robert Israel, who combines well-known classical pieces to produce a range of moods that are perfectly suited to the action and drama of the film.