The Illusionist

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The Illusionist is a 2006 period drama based loosely on Steven Millhauser's story "Eisenheim the Illusionist". The Illusionist tells the story of Eisenheim, a magician in turn-of-the-20th-century Vienna.

Written and directed by Neil Burger


  • I would like to continue with an examination of time. From the moment we enter this life, we are in the flow of it. We measure it and we mark it, but we cannot defy it. We cannot even speed it up or slow it down. Or can we ? Have we not each experienced the sensation… that a beautiful moment seemed to pass too quickly… and wished that we could make it linger ? Or felt time slow on a dull day… and wished that we could speed things up a bit ?
  • I thought we might end this evening with a discussion of the soul. All of the greatest religions speak of the soul’s endurance beyond the end of life. So what then does it mean to die?


  • Life and death. Space and time. Fate and chance. These are the forces of the universe. Tonight, ladies and gentlemen, I present to you a man who has unlocked these mysteries. From the furthest corners of the world where the dark arts still hold sway he returns to us to demonstrate how nature’s laws may be bent. I give you Eisenheim.

Inspector Uhl[edit]

  • As a boy, I'm told, he had a chance encounter with a travelling magician. One version of the story was that the man himself vanished... along with the tree. People began to think he had some sort of special power... or at least that he was a bit different. And then he met her.


Crown Prince Leopold: You're late.
Chief Inspector Uhl: My apologies, your Highness. I was attending to loose ends of the case.
Crown Prince Leopold: Are there still loose ends?
Chief Inspector Uhl: Very few.
Crown Prince Leopold: Did he do it again? [Uhl nods] How does he do it?
Chief Inspector Uhl: I'm afraid I still don't know.
Crown Prince Leopold: Did you ask him?
Chief Inspector Uhl: He's not talking at this point.
Crown Prince Leopold: Well, I'm sure you have methods for that kind of thing. I want you to put an end to it. Surely you have something on him. Something from his past?

Crown Prince Leopold: Well done.
Eisenheim: Thank you for coming. I hope you enjoyed it.
Crown Prince Leopold: Oh, we more than enjoyed it. Stimulated great debate among us, hasn't it? Except of course for your assistant Duchess Von Teschen. You seem to have struck her quite speechless. A feat in itself. Did you hypnotize her?
Eisenheim: In a fashion.
Crown Prince Leopold: I'd like to learn that trick. Rainer here seems to think you have supernatural powers. Do you claim supernatural powers?
Eisenheim: I've never said anything of that kind.
Crown Prince Leopold: Then you won't mind a question or two?
Sophie: Now let's not ruin it.
Crown Prince Leopold: You needn't divulge anything I can't guess.
Eisenheim: As you wish.
Crown Prince Leopold: Your assistants are behind the mirrors somewhere, in robes obviously. Lights in the frame perhaps to illuminate them, or angled mirrors.
Eisenheim: That would be one way to do it.
Crown Prince Leopold: I think I understand it all except the ghost. That was very, very good.
Josef Fischer: Another viewing, perhaps?
Crown Prince Leopold: You must come to the Hofburg next time. We'll make an evening of it.
Eisenheim: That would be my pleasure.
Crown Prince Leopold: So be it. [motions to Sophie] Sophie? [leaves with Sophie, then turns] And we'll gather our best minds next time. You'll really have a challenge then.
Eisenheim: Then I shall prepare something special. Perhaps I'll make you disappear.

Eisenheim: [angrily] Are you completely corrupt?
Chief Inspector Uhl: No, not completely, which is why I'll advise you not to accuse anyone.


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