‘The Illusionist’ Audio Interviews

     September 4, 2006

Already playing, but expanding into more theaters this Friday, is The Illusionist, a film that is getting bigger and bigger with each passing weekend. This film, along with Little Miss Sunshine, prove great reviews and strong word of mouth can always lift a film higher.

Based on the short story Eisenheim The Illusionist, Neil Burger has crafted a great film set in Vienna at the turn of the 20th century. Starring Edward Norton as Eisenheim, Mr. Burger has brought magic back to the screen.

The film is about Eisenheim, a great magician and illusionist, and his constant struggle with the Prince and police inspector doing his bidding. Eisenheim captures the people’s love and enchants them with his tricks, but for the Prince, who loves to figure out how things work, this popularity and power proves unsettling. Of course it doesn’t help that Eisenheim is after his woman.

While the overall story is something familiar, what someone will do for love, the settings and characters are interesting and new. Filmed on location in Prague and the surrounding area, the film achieves a look and feel that some $100 million dollar productions never accomplish. What makes this remarkable is that the film only cost $16 million to make. After watching, I couldn’t believe it.

One of the things that really captivated me was the cinematography of Dick Pope. The film had an amazing look, like you were watching a film from the turn of the century, and it was being hand cranked.

The other aspect of the film that really brought me in was how the film was able to capture the politics of the period and mix it with the magic and storyline of Eisenheim. It also helped that the cast was excellent, turning in what could be bland and boring conversations into magic onscreen. Helping this along was Paul Giamatti as the police inspector, Rufus Sewell as Crown Prince Leopold, and Jessica Biel as Sophie von Teschen, the love interest of both Eisenheim and the Prince.

While this summer has been one of disappointment in the theaters, The Illusionist has absolutely been one of the bright spots and one of my favorite films of the year so far. While it expanded this weekend to more theaters, next Friday it will be even wider. Do yourself a favor and check this film out, you won’t regret it.

There are two interviews below for you to listen to. The first is with writer and director Neil Burger, he goes into a lot of details about how the film came together and he even answers the question about Edward Norton in the editing room (he has a history of taking over). I found his answers both honest and insightful into the directing process, and worth listening to.

The other interview is with Jessica Biel. I can honestly say that I really enjoyed her performance, and it might be the first time I can write that. In her interview she talks about getting the part at the last minute and what she did to win everyone over. Also she talks about how she had to learn an accent in a very short time and how difficult it was. During the roundtable you could tell she was happy to be talking about the film, and why wouldn’t she be, as it is the best thing she has been in.

To listen to the interviews either click on name below, or right click it and save it for later.

Neil Burger

Jessica Biel

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