The Illusionist— Recommended by Latoya Jackson
Latoya recently commented not to believe what was said in the trial, that “it’s all an illusion” and to “read between the lines”. She also made sure to mention we watch the movie “The Illusionist” so we’d understand. So here is the plot for that movie:
The film, which contains both fictional and historical characters, begins in medias res as Chief Inspector Walter Uhl (Paul Giamatti) moves to arrest Herr Eisenheim (Edward Norton) during what appears to be necromancy passed off as a magic show. He then begins to recount the story of Eisenheim for Crown Prince Leopold.
Eisenheim was born the son of a cabinetmaker in Vienna, Austria-Hungary and is seen training for this same trade. One day when he was a teenager, Eisenheim (played as a young man byAaron Johnson) meets a traveling magician along a road. The magician performs several tricks for him and then, according to various accounts, both the magician and the tree he was sitting under vanish. Eisenheim becomes obsessed with magic tricks after this.
He also falls in love with Sophie, the Duchess von Teschen (Jessica Biel, played as a teenager by Eleanor Tomlinson), a noblewoman well above his social class; her parents have hired Eisenheim’s father as a cabinetmaker. Young Eisenheim makes young Sophie a unique marquetry puzzle locket, which if twisted correctly reveals a hidden photograph of Eisenheim. Although the two are forbidden to see each other, they meet in a secret hideout chamber in the woods, where Eisenheim tells of his plans to go to China to learn more magic and Sophie promises to go with him. On the day that they are going to leave, the police come looking for Sophie. The two hide in the secret room and Sophie begs Eisenheim to make them both disappear. He is unable to fulfill this request and the two are separated.
Eisenheim travels the world, perfecting his craft and returns to Vienna years later as a master illusionist. He meets Sophie at one of his performances, when she is volunteered by Crown Prince Leopold (Rufus Sewell) as a reluctant participant in an illusion, where her reflection in a mirror is “murdered”. He soon learns that Sophie is expected to marry the Crown Prince, who purportedly has a history of abuse towards women. Eisenheim and Sophie, having recognized each other, meet privately, revealing Sophie still has the locket he made for her years ago. After humiliating the Crown Prince during a private show, Eisenheim finds his hit performance shut out of Vienna. When Sophie comes to offer him help, the two consummate their relationship and realize that they are still in love. They plan to flee the Empire together; but first something must be done to stop Leopold, who Sophie reveals is planning a coup d’etat to usurp the Crown of Austria from his aging father, the Emperor Franz Joseph I, while using his engagement to her to win the Hungarian half of the Empire as well. She also knows that the Crown Prince will view her as disposable if she leaves him for another man, and that he will have both her and Eisenheim followed and killed.
Leopold finds out from Uhl, who was following the couple, that Sophie has met with Eisenheim. While drunk, Leopold confronts Sophie and accuses her of being unfaithful. She tells him that she will not marry him or have anything to do with his plan. When she attempts to leave, it appears that he murders her in the stables, with a sword cut across her neck. Unfortunately, Leopold’s royal status makes any accusations against him unthinkable, despite an existing belief among the people that Leopold has murdered a woman in the past. As Eisenheim plunges into despair and the citizens of Vienna begin to suspect Leopold of Sophie’s murder, Uhl observes Eisenheim’s actions more closely on behalf of Leopold.
Wracked with grief, Eisenheim prepares a new kind of magic show, using mysterious equipment and Chinese stagehands. Eisenheim purchases a run-down theater and opens a new performance. During his show, Eisenheim apparently summons spirits, leading many to believe that he possesses supernatural powers.
Leopold decides to attend one of Eisenheim’s shows in disguise. During this show, Eisenheim summons the spirit of Sophie, who says someone in the theater murdered her, panicking Leopold. Uhl pleads with Eisenheim to stop such performances, but Eisenheim refuses. Finally, Leopold orders Eisenheim’s arrest. We then return to the opening scene of the movie, but now we see that when Uhl tries to arrest him during the performance, Eisenheim’s body fades and disappears like his summoned spirits.
Inspector Uhl searches for Eisenheim at his house. There he finds a folio labeled “Orange Tree,” the name of one of Eisenheim’s illusions which had intrigued Uhl. Thinking he will find the solution to one of the magician’s most famous tricks, he opens it to find empty pages except for a scrap of parchment showing how to open the locket Eisenheim had given Sophie when they were young.
Uhl reveals to Leopold that he has found evidence which links the Crown Prince to Sophie’s murder: a jewel from the prince’s sword and Sophie’s locket that Eisenheim gave her when they were children. After ordering, then begging Uhl to keep silent, Leopold discovers that Uhl has already informed the Emperor and the General Staff of Leopold’s conspiracy to usurp the Austro-Hungarianthrone. As the Army arrives at his Palace to arrest him, Leopold shoots himself in despair after angrily justifying his plans to overthrow his father.
In the next scene, Uhl is shown leaving the Imperial Palace. After he takes a few steps, a boy runs up to hand him a folio labeled “Orange Tree”. This time, the “Orange Tree” folio is filled with plans detailing a geared mechanism to make the tree “grow”. Uhl demands to know where the child obtained the folio; the child reveals that Eisenheim had given it to him. Uhl then reaches down into his pocket, to discover the Duchess’ locket is missing. He realises with a jolt that he has been pick-pocketed by a disguised Eisenheim, and gives chase following him to the train station. After the chase, a montage shows Uhl putting the pieces together and discovering how Eisenheim faked Sophie’s death and framed Leopold for the murder. The shot of Uhl closes with him taking his hat off (as if it were in salute), and looking upwards, (as if about to break out in laughter) in realisation of the masterful illusion that has been so successfully planned & implemented. Eisenheim is then seen walking up to a house in the country where Sophie is waiting for him.
This entry was posted on November 9, 2011 by Grace. It was filed under Interviews/articles/videos (MJ related) and was tagged with Crown Prince, Edward Norton, Eleanor Tomlinson, Illusionist, Jessica Biel, Leopold, Paul Giamatti, Rufus Sewell, Vienna.