Friday, November 04, 2011

The Illusionist - 2010



The Illusionist is very beautiful and melancholic. Each scene is brimming with tender detail and attention. You can feel the joy of the filmmakers seeping through the film. The score by director Sylvain Chomet is also lovely. The film comes amazingly close to the pure cinema of Tati (who wrote the original screenplay and was the spiritual inspiration for the film) and Chaplin. It doesn't quite reach that angelic mark, but few films do. The film is a great leap forward from Chomet's rather wonderful Triplets of Belleville. That film had visual flair and innovation but it is but a shadow to The Illusionist's subtlety, pacing and heart. A sad and humane poem of a film.

A note for those who take joy in visual art: Moments from The Illusionist reminded me of the great works of Georges Rouault. There is so much sadness here, yet it is somehow transfigured into joyful suffering. Rouault's masterpiece, the collection Miserere, is among the purest and most humane works of art you will ever encounter.

A Scene from The Illusionist

   Roualt's "The Clown" - 1907

4 comments:

Reido Bandito said...

YES. I really want to see this again. It's cool that it got a nom.

Steinar Ingi said...

I'm quite surprised Ágúst.

I really loved Chomet's Triplets of Belleville and I am a bit familiar with Tati and consequently I had high expectations for The Illusionist.

Sitting down in one of my favorite cinema: The Curzon Soho, with a hot cup of deep black joe, everything was set up for a nice afternoon but after an hour or so I realized how this was the most dissapointed I had been over a film in years. I deeply disliked it. Despite having amazingly beautiful animation and some very charming scenes (that could stand on their own as great short films), I thought it was utterly dull and pointless as a whole.

Chomet's distinctive style (animation, lack of dialogue, etc) worked very well in The Triplets because it was packed with action and there were plenty of minor details in each scene, so you had substance and style. The substance of The Illusionist, on the other hand, simply didn't suit the style (or vice versa?). The film ends up being beautiful but not much else.

Reido Bandito said...

Uh oh, Gústy. The gauntlet has been thrown down!

agust symeon said...

Interesting that you didn't like it Steinar. It is quite a different film, certainly, than the Triplets. What I liked better about the Illusionist is that it was so wonderfully subtle. I thought there were a great many beautiful details in each shot but they were much quieter than in the Triplets where the shots seemed perhaps a bit busy and "clever." The Triplets is a wonderful film but I must say that I thought there was more "content" to the Illusionist insofar as it dealt with themes of sacrifice, service and gratitude. The Triplets had certain interesting themes running throughout it but they didn't quite stick to the bones (at least not in my case) because the film was such a visual bombardment (as you can see, I liked it so much that I can only praise it as I "critique" it).