Movie Review of “The Illusionist”…Did Eisenheim Practice Necromancy?

Posted: January 2, 2008 by Rick Hogaboam in Movie Reviews
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The movie lives up to its billing, “Nothing is as it appears”. Some who think that Eisenheim was actually conjuring dead spirits miss the point. Though Eisenheim frames Leopold for the murder of Sophie, his intentions were two-fold: get the lady he loves away from an abusive man and to thwart the plot of Leopold to overthrow his own father. While it can be argued whether Eisenheim acts rightly by framing Leopold’s death, his intentions reveal that he wants the country run by an honorable person. It could be said that Eisenheim was selfishly trying to obtain Sophie, but I don’t think that such was the alone intention.

Eisenheim learned and devised an illusion that happens to serve as his last act. He claims to bring back people from the dead, of whom Sophie is conjured. I don’t believe that such was Necromamcy because the movie leads us to believe that Sophie is really alive at the end, which means that Eisenheim was indeed performing an illusion. You may say that the ending of the movie is not what it really appears to be, but I believe that it is. Eisenheim and Sophie live “happily every after”, secluded from society. He is finally able to redeem his earlier failure to make himself and Sophie disappear at her request when hiding as kids.  

Some may think it wrong for Eisenheim to mislead his audiences into thinking that Sophie was indeed dead and turn the public against Leopold. The fact is that Eisenheim admitted to his followers that he was not bringing people back from the dead and that it was an illusion when he was threatened with imprisonment for inciting the public. The illusion leaves the viewer thinking it was impossible…which is the point of any good magic trick. So also, this movie leaves you wondering how it happened, and like any good magician, does not reveal the secret. For those reasons, it is a worthwhile flick, full of entertainment. You just have to be willing to take the movie for what it is, an illusion.

  1. Chris Constant says:

    How did Eisenheim bring Sophie back to life when she allegedly “bled to death” as said by the doctor… and confirmed by the Chief of Police? I noticed the vile during the montage at the end of the film that supposedly saved her, but how did it bring her back to life??

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