The Illusionist

Thursday 16th September / 8PM @ The Maltings Theatre

Berwick Film Society presents:

Scotland is more beautifully animated than you’ve ever seen it in this enchanting story of an idealistic stage magician. A tender homage to French filmmaker Jacques Tati, by director of Belleville Rendez-Vous

Sylvain Chomet’s long-awaited follow-up to The Triplets of Belleville is a sumptuous love letter to Scotland, offering breathtaking views of its scenery, its peculiar light and its capital city. The film is based on an original, unproduced script by French cinematic legend Jacques Tati (better known as his screen character, Monsieur Hulot).

Tatischeff, the film’s protagonist, is a weary, over-the-hill conjuror struggling to keep up with audiences’ changing tastes in late 1950s Paris. As entertainment acts morph into a much more frenzied affair than our socially awkward illusionist could ever muster, his act is mercilessly marginalised and bookings dry up. He abandons the French capital and, responding to an enthusiastic invitation from a suitably inebriated Scot, travels to a remote village inn in the Western Isles, rabid rabbit in tow.

The lonely, ageing French man befriends Alice, a teenage maid slaving at the inn. Tatischeff’s act, along with the magical appearance of a new pair of shoes in her bedroom, convinces Alice that his powers are real. She follows him off the island, all the way to Edinburgh, never understanding the financial burden she places upon this surrogate father, since he can magic up clothes, rail tickets and anything else you could ever need. As Tatischeff strives to keep up the illusion, he is forced to seek ever more demeaning additional employment to supplement his music hall fees.

But the city has its own powers of enchantment that will draw his beloved Alice away…

Brimming with seductive 1950s period detail, this melancholy animation proudly takes its cues from silent cinema aesthetics, mixing an exquisitely crafted visual style with a mellow sense of humour and a rich soundscape which, like Belleville Rendez-Vous, features virtually no dialogue. Loss of innocence has rarely seemed so gentle.


Director's Profile

Born in Maisons-Laffitte, Yvelines, near Paris, Sylvain Chomet studied art at high school until he graduated in 1982. In 1986 he published his first comic, Secrets of the Dragonfly and in 1988 he moved to London to work as an animator. Chomet’s short film The Old Lady and the Pigeons won him a BAFTA and an Oscar nomination in 1996. He won commercial acclaim with his first feature Belleville Rendez-Vous, which was nominated for a further two Oscars in 2003. More recently, Chomet spent several years in North Berwick. The Illusionist was produced through his Edinburgh-based studio Django Films.


2006 Paris, Je T'aime (segment)
2003 Belleville Rendez-Vous
1998 La Vieille Dame et Les Pigeons (short)

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Artist Sylvain Chomet Country France/UK Year 2010 Duration 90 minutes Cert PG