I first read about this animated film, L'Illusionniste (The Illusionist) on Thatch and Burrow (thanks Pamela!), then saw, a week later, that it was coming to one of my local cinemas. We went to see it last night, and I loved it even more than Bellville Rendezvous (aka The Triplets of Belleville) which was also directed by Sylvain Chomet.
White rabbits and top hats, flowers produced from shirt sleeves and empty wine glasses filled. Showgirls and ventriloquists and a trio of acrobats. Battered brown leather suitcases and train journeys North. Rainswept skylines and twinkling theatre lights. Red shoes and fur-trimmed coats. Fish and chips from folded paper, red double-decker buses. Kilts and Highland cattle. Bunches of heather and coal stoked fires. Strings of coloured lights and coins plucked from behind ears.
L'Illusionniste has been adapted from an original screenplay by Jacques Tati and tells the story of an ageing French magician who is finding it increasingly more difficult to find work with the rise in popularity of pop music and cinema in the late 1950s / early 1960s. He eventually moves to Scotland where he befriends a young girl and finds himself having to take on more and more menial jobs in order to maintain the pretence that he can conjure up gifts from thin air.
It is at times amusing, at others beautifully poignant, and after the credits began to roll the three of us sat in silence taking in the sheer time and skill involved in creating such a piece of animation. The drawings are superb, with so much attention to detail that the Highlands of Scotland and the majestic beauty of Edinburgh sprang to life before our eyes.
I am not sure if it is on general release or just in selected Arthouse cinemas, but if you have a chance to see it, do.
All images from here.