I watched a lovely film this week called “The Illusionist,” directed by Sylvain Chomet and adapted from a script by Jacques Tati. It is a beautifully animated French film that shares a journey with an aging magician and a young girl whose path connects with his. The young girl Alice is filled with wonder at all the magician can do and truly, with life itself, and the magician, Jacques, strives to be his best self while he tries to find his way in a world that no longer appreciates his showmanship. The story itself is sweet, seeing the two discover a father-daughter love, and poignant, as the magician struggles to keep a roof over their heads and to earn enough between jobs to survive. The two befriend a variety of performers who are similarly down on their luck but the pure delight the girl has as she connects with each one brightens all of their lives.
The artistry in creating each of the scenes, as the pair travel to Edinburgh, is truly something to see. Reportedly, the film took four and a half years to animate (and follows Chomet’s Triplets of Belleville). If you watched the film for the artwork alone, you wouldn’t be disappointed, but the soulful story may sweep you into the film, as it did me. The story includes some references to Tati’s work (perhaps best known for Mon Oncle) and the magician is named for him.
The film received many awards in the 2010 film season, including a nomination for an Academy Award for animation and many critics’ choice honors. This is a quiet film – literally – as the soundtrack is mostly the accompanying musical score (the story is told through the animation). I think it’s worth a look – let me know what you think!
*The film is rated PG and is not owned, yet, by APU but is available through Link+