Today: July 22, 2024

Illusionist, The (French) DVD

A charming animation that wears its heart firmly on its sleeve.

Animation has moved on since the days of Disney churning out its glorious hand drawn delights. Few people still work in the medium of traditionalanimation, preferring instead to follow in the footsteps of the gargantuan Pixar.However, the like of Studio Ghibli continue to show that there is life in the old dog yet with such stunning releases as Spirited Away (2001) and Ponyo(2008). It is therefore a welcome addition to the pantheon of animation that writer director Sylvain Chomet, who also gave us Belleville Rendez-Vous (2003), should capture the imagination with this ode to a dying art-form.

In the 1950s an Illusionist finds his craft is diminishing demand. As he flits from theater to private function he is invited to perform in Scotland. There he meets Alice an innocent young girl who believes the magic on display is real. Together they travel to Edinburgh and the Illusionist desperately tries to keep up the pretence that he can create anything Alice wants by constantly buyingher gifts. However, this life style soon catches up with him and the future looks bleak.

French comedic actor Jacques Tati wrote the film but he felt it too personal to translate to screen. As such it gathered dust until his death, but it is to our benefit that it has now been adapted and made by director Chomet. The Illusionist is clearly modeled on Tati himself, although having the character walk into a cinema where one of Tati’s films is playing is selling the point a little too hard, and as such mimics the mannerisms from Tati’s Monsieur Hulot, his character in films like Mon Oncle (1958) and Play Time (1967). Beneath that comedic waddle lurks a man trying to find his place in a world all too anxious to leave him behind in favor of rock and roll.

Although The Illusionist is less fantastical than the Studio Ghibli output it is no less magical. The landscapes and overall look of the film is stunning, despite often being drenched in Scottish weather, and almost every frame could be used as a postcard to mark the occasion. Furthermore, it conjures an endearing quality that draws you into the emotions on offer. The dialogue is intentionally sparse lending the characters a Charlie Chaplin or Buster Keaton like quality, which manages to evoke endless sympathy for the characters.

For some The Illusionist may be too quaint with its quirky ways and obvious nostalgic nuances, but even a cynic will see the genuine delight to be had in a perfectly rendered character created in traditional animation. While The Illusionist himself may be a dying breed this shows that there is still life in this form of art and it is to Oscar’scredit that it has been nominated in the Best Animated Feature category this year. Truly spellbinding.

Alex Moss Editor

Alex Moss’ obsession with film began the moment he witnessed the Alien burst forth from John Hurt’s stomach. It was perhaps ill-advised to witness this aged 6 but much like the beast within Hurt, he became infected by a parasite called ‘Movies’. Rarely away from his computer or a big screen, as he muses on Cinematic Deities, Alex is “more machine now than man. His mind is twisted and evil”. Email: alex.moss@filmjuice.com

Previous Story

I Know You Know DVD

Next Story

Surfing Films

Latest from Blog

Memory

Memory (2023)

Memory is an exquisite American drama in the tender embrace of Michel Franco’s cinematic prowess.

7 Of The Hottest Threesomes in Cinema

They say that, “three is a crowd” but in cinema that is not always the case. Over decades of cinema the concept of a menage-a-trois has been used in a plethora of

Challengers

When he was promoting Challengers, celebrated filmmaker Luca Guadagnino told Little White Lies that he doesn’t watch tennis because it’s “boring”. It’s all the more amazing, then, that Challengers is one of

Longlegs

Following early screenings, Longlegs mania became something bigger than anyone could have predicted. After an eerie and ambiguous marketing campaign made up largely of short, cryptic teasers, hype was already pretty high

Inside No 9 Complete Collection Unboxing

Earlier this year, one of the finest television creations in the history of the medium came to a poignant conclusion after 9 impeccable seasons. Over 55 self-contained episodes, Inside No 9 made

A Bittersweet Life Unboxing

Taking a brief detour from horror, Second Sight Films have given their much-loved Limited Edition treatment to South Korean neo-noir thriller A Bittersweet Life (2005). Filmmaker Kim Jee-woon may jump wildly around
Go toTop