Essay about The Illusionist: Reality versus His Illusions

Essay about The Illusionist: Reality versus His Illusions

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“The Illusionist” is a short story by Steven Millhauser, which was adapted into a movie directed by Neil Burger in 2008 which both take place in Vienna. The short story’s plot revolves around Eisenheim and his relationship between himself and the state, which is still featured in the movie. Eisenheim’s illusions also cause him a bit of trouble; in the short story the cause of trouble is an illusion, which produces two spirits by the name of Rosa, Elis, and a boy who appears to be no older than eight. In the movie adaptation, the final straw that causes the Crown Prince to finally pursue persecution of Eisenheim is the illusion that again, produces a spirit, which turns out to be his dead fiancée. Because of Inspector Uhl’s growing obsession of Eisenheim, throughout the movie and the short story, it further ignites the blur between what is the reality and what is his illusion. Uhl’s obsession over Eisenheim and his illusions helps blur the reality around him.
In the short story, the narration appears to be as if a friend were telling you a story, as the narrator does not have any real affiliation with the story, while in the adaptation the narrator is very clearly Inspector Uhl, as the ending of the short story is the very beginning of the movie. In the adaptation Inspector Uhl is shortly after seen walking to the office of the Crown Prince and explaining the situation and the failure to formally get Eisenheim into custody. The Crown Prince, of course, is furious and accuses Inspector Uhl of being inadequate. Inspector Uhl, in turn, reverses the accusations as he now has enough evidence to arrest The Crown Prince of killing his fiancée, Sofie. Sofie, one of the new characters introduced by Neil Burger was not featured by Steven M...


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...mes an intense battle between the both of them. The battle in the adaptation is more strongly between the Crown Prince and Eisenheim, which ends deadly for one of them.
Because of Eisenheim’s web of lies, skill, and cunning – in the movie adaptation – with Inspector Uhl’s eagerness to learn from him, Uhl is deeply wraps himself into Eisenheim’s illusions and master illusion. Even though by the end of it Uhl is rewarded by the secrets of the orange tree illusion and a great sense of wonder by the master illusion, the audience cannot help feel like themselves and Inspector Uhl have been manipulated. Whether it be the short story and the movie adaptation, nothing is what it seems, reality and illusion is greatly skewed.



Works Cited

Burger, Neil. “The Illusionist.” 2006. Movie. April 2014.

Millhauser, Steven. “Eisenheim the Illusionist.” Unknown. Web. April 2014.

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