The Illusionist

Sylvain Chomet’s “The Illusionist” is nostalgia wrapped in bubble wrap- it’s very fragile for an animated film and the style suits it perfectly. The screenplay is the final act of the late great Jacques Tati, who is famous for films such as Mr Hulot’s Holiday, Playtime and Traffic. The film itself is about an aging Magician, a vagabond of sorts who goes from one place to another, wherever he can find steady work, a paycheck and an audience. He eventually ends up in Scotland and crosses paths with a young girl who seems to be the only one who admires his work and they decide to move in together and form a kind of Father- Daughter relationship. The relationship also shows the drastic differences that are defining them; the magician is slowly disappearing and being replaced by loud rambunctious bands, whereas the girl is slowly emerging into her own shoes. The main character’s look is definitely an homage to Tati, who sports an identical long slender frame, trench coat and a trademark pipe. The film feels like an extension of Tati because it captures the magical charm that surrounded him, but sadly signifies how tragic and troubled his family life was like.

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2 thoughts on “The Illusionist

  1. Think you will find that Sophie was not Tati’s inspiration for writing the Illusionist; Tatis inspiration was the guilt he felt towards his eldest estranged daughter Helga Marie-Jeanne who was born during his stage performing years that the Illusionist also bemoans the loss of.

    Sophie Tatischeff did not give Chomet the script, in his own words “he never meet her or even spoke to her”. The script was achieved at the French Film Institute.

    Chomet has just been using a dead woman he never knew, Sophie Tatischeff, to justify his movie ignoring the heartfelt yet melancholy reason why Tati had wrote the Illusionist to his eldest daughter Helga who today is alive and well and the only surviving member of the Tatischeff family.

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