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The Illusionist (2006)


Drama, Fantasy, History |

The Illusionist is a American romantic mystery film written and directed by Neil Burger and starring Edward Norton, Paul Giamatti, and Jessica Biel. It is based loosely on Steven Millhauser’s short story “Eisenheim the Illusionist”. The film tells the story of Eisenheim, a magician in turn-of-the-century Vienna, who reunites with his childhood love, a woman far above his social standing. The film also depicts a fictionalized version of the Mayerling incident.

The film premiered at the 2006 Sundance Film Festival and opened the 2006 Seattle International Film Festival; it was distributed in limited release to theaters on August 18, 2006, and expanded nationwide on September 1. The film was a commercial and critical success.

In Vienna, Austria-Hungary, 1889, a magician named Eisenheim is arrested by Chief Inspector Walter Uhl of the Vienna Police during a magic show involving necromancy. Later, Uhl explains the story of Eisenheim’s life to Crown Prince Leopold.

Eisenheim was born to a cabinet-maker and became interested in magic after meeting a travelling magician. He also fell in love with Sophie, the Duchess von Teschen, but the two were forbidden to see each other on account of the former being a peasant. They kept meeting secretly but were caught one day and separated by force. Eisenheim proceeded to study magic by travelling the world, and fifteen years later returned to Vienna to perform. During one performance, he encounters the adult Sophie and learns that she is expected to marry the Crown Prince Leopold, who, it is rumored, is brutal towards women and in the past even murdered one.

Director: Neil Burger

Writers: Neil Burger (screenplay), Steven Millhauser (short story “Eisenheim the Illusionist”)

Stars: Edward Norton, Jessica Biel, Paul Giamatti, Rufus Sewell, Eddie Marsan, Jake Wood, Tom Fisher


Edward NortonEisenheim
Paul GiamattiInspector Uhl
Jessica BielSophie
Rufus SewellCrown Prince Leopold
Eddie MarsanJosef Fischer (as Edward Marsan)
Jake WoodJurka
Tom FisherWilligut
Aaron Taylor-JohnsonYoung Eisenheim (as Aaron Johnson)
Eleanor TomlinsonYoung Sophie
Karl JohnsonDoctor / Old Man
Vincent FranklinLoschek
Nicholas BlaneHerr Doebler
Philip McGoughDr. Hofzinser
Erich RedmanCount Rainer
Michael CarterVon Thurnburg
Vanessa GendronShouting Woman
Matthew Blood-SmythMan Who Incites Riot
David ForestTraveling Magician
Laurie AtheyAristocratic Boy
Oliver Blaha-McGillickAristocratic Boy (as Oliver Blaha)
Thomas McEnchroeAristocratic Boy
Andreas GrothusenEisenheim’s Father
Brian CaspeEisenheim’s Assistant
Ellen SavariaMrs. Uhl
Elias BauerStreet Urchin Messenger
Dominik HavelkaStreet Urchin
Robin FerencStreet Urchin
Vitezslav BouchnerSophie’s Driver
David O’KellyArchduke
Richard RowlandsArchduke
Sean HallYoung Prince
Reuben-Henry BiggsFrankel (as Rueben-Henry Biggs)
Vadam Bat-OrshikhAsian Assistant
Purevdorj BoldsaikhanAsian Assistant
Chen FengAsian Assistant
Sondom NararbadrakhAsian Assistant
Erdenbileg SengeeAsian Assistant
Jan CibulkaBoy Apparition on Stage
Fasihiddin KhasanovBoy Apparition in Audience
Alfred StrejcekGuard
Robert RussellSpiritualist Leader
Noel le BonArrested Man (as Noel Lebon)
David FellowesRespectable Man
Eva KelemenováSobbing Woman (as Eva Kelemenova)
John EarlyMan on Street
Jan NemejovskýSenior Officer
Ivo NovákSenior Officer
Vladimír KulhavýTrain Conductor
Nancy BishopAudience Member
Duke FaegerAudience Member (as Dusan Fager)
Brendan GunnAudience Member
Ryan JamesAudience Member
Alistair MacnaughtanAudience Member (as Alistair Macnaughton)
Petr MeisselAudience Member
Anezka NovakAudience Member
Jeff SmithAudience Member
Noelle TrkuljaAudience Member
Ivan UrbánekAudience Member
Jirí VacekAudience Member (as Jiri Vacek)
Jaroslav VíznerAudience Member
James BabsonYoung Father (uncredited)
Jesse Phillips MarchBoy on Street (uncredited)

Sources: imdb & wikipedia

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