With his eye on a lovely aristocrat, a gifted illusionist named Eisenheim uses his powers to win her away from her betrothed, a crowned prince. But Eisenheim's scheme creates tumult within the monarchy and ignites the suspicion of a dogged inspector.
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The French animated film, The Illusionist, is many things. It is a subtle animated masterpiece of warmth, humor. It is also a story of sadness and loss. It tells the tale of an aging magician who is maybe a bit past his prime. Traveling from theater to theater, he is often met by a nearly empty theater. The kids don't want to see magic anymore. They are too caught up in the magic of rock and roll and the sound and color that is modern cinema. His profession has become an antique, an interesting parlor trick to amuse the old timers.
Things begin to change when he meets a young girl, who is amazed by his small feats of illusionary magic. Together they encounter wild acrobats, sad clowns, and a deranged ventriloquist. There is a sort of magical spark between the two. Possibly, a hope that that there is hope.
A warm and poignant animated marvel, The Illusionist, is in many ways a modern silent film. This old man embodies much of what make the films of Chaplin so endearing for so many. Like the little tramp he often finds there is little to offer in this modern time. But despite all that, he always carries himself with a sense of confidence and optimism. There is always the hope that things will brighten, and a new day will come. So buck up, and keep on truckin' along.