The Illusionist

The Illusionist's beautiful animation is captivating, but the story is really depressing.

Triplets of Belleville was a great movie. I loved the musicality of it, and how there was hardly any (no?) dialogue. The Illusionist is also beautifully animated. I love the small quirks of the animation, like how The Illusionist's hands move when he packs up his poster. I loved how crazy the rabbit was. But ultimately it's basically the saddest movie ever, and if I had known that going in, I probably wouldn't have watched it.

I'm not a fan of subtitles, so I watched it with those off. There wasn't much dialogue, so hopefully I picked up the intent well enough. I couldn't believe the audacity of the girl when she decided to just start following The Illusionist around and make him pay for stuff. I guess she didn't realize he couldn't just make it appear out of thin air. But she was really taking advantage of him. He had to work so hard. The part when he thought the rabbit was in the soup was funny, though. Other than that I pretty much just hated the girl and felt bad for The Illusionist the whole time. I felt really bad for her when she got the note that said "magicians do not exist," too. Things would've been better if they had a chance to actually say goodbye. I think she was really excited to come back and tell him about the guy she met.

It was sad that he let the rabbit go, and sold all his props. I guess he needed to move on, though. It wasn't a viable career anymore. At least he didn't end up like the clown and the ventriloquist; drunk, homeless, getting beaten up like something from A Clockwork Orange. I can't help but feel like he lost his spirit just the same, though. He didn't want to do magic for the girl on the train; didn't want her to think magic was possible. I guess The Illusionist falls into the category of "it was a good movie, but I wouldn't say I liked it."

It does have a really interesting back story, though. Apparently, French actor Jacques Tati wrote the original script for it, as a way of working through some issues he had over abandoning his first-born daughter. It's pretty heavy stuff, and you can read a summation of it in Ebert's review and the full story in Tati's grandson's letter. I like the idea behind the original script, though: The Illusionist, so named because his entire persona and life was an illusion. Which is apparently how Tati felt; people liked his characters and didn't realize that wasn't who he was as a person, and he felt like a failure. Definitely not any less sad than the movie that wound up being made, but different.

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