Sylvain Chormet, creator of the quirky full length animation Belville Rendezvous, has focussed on a poignant Jacques Tati story relocated, like his film studio, to Edinburgh. The Illusionist opened the Edinburgh Film Festival back in June, and opened in cinemas across the country on the 20th August.
On a night too damp for harvesting oats, and absolutely on the spur of the moment, we booked tickets to see this film at the DCA in Dundee. We joined the packed lovely arthouse cinema, and sat down to enjoy the film.
The story is about a magician in the late 1950s who is past his best, and as new forms of entertainment like rock and roll take over the old variety venues, he embarks on a journey to seek out new opportunities. Meeting a roaring drunk Scotsman in London, he takes the train north, shares a ferry with sheep and then a small boat piloted by a man in a delightfully blowy kilt. His illusions beguile a simple island girl who steals away to accompany him to Edinburgh.
The story is touching although perhaps light on plot. But that is perhaps to miss the point of this stunningly beautiful film, which so uncannily captures the Scottish light in the west and in the Capital. There is a moment on the journey North as the camera follows the sheep ferry on a sea loch at dawn when the mists suddenly clear to reveal the moutains and dappled sunlight. It is breathtaking, and will stir the hearts of Scots everywhere.
1950s Edinburgh was interesting, with lovely detail. Part of the charm of this film is the small things that happen in the background to the main action. And a nice touch to have Tati’s Mon Oncle playing at The Cameo.
At the end there was applause for the film, and people stayed for the credits. Then a big cheer went up, for the cinema was full of the folk from Ink-Digital in Dundee who did a lot of work on the film. Congratulations to them and their colleagues. Clip and more about Ink Digital here.
Sad, beautiful and deeply haunting. And (partly) made in Dundee.