All film stills are found off Google Images.I planning to post this for a long time now. But since my portable hard disk died on me (where I had stored many of the blog pictures), things have been put on the back burner. However in the recent turn of things, I feel now would be a good time to post this.
The film set first in 1959 Paris, follows the titled "Illusionist" as he tries to find a job in a world which finds him increasingly outdated. Despite being unable to find steady work and paycheck, he refuses to back down from his craft and keeps on maintaining his craft ceaselessly in hopes that maybe he could find his audience again one day. Through doing all the odd jobs as possible as he can, he later finds himself in a small island in Scotland. There he meets a country bumpkin of a lackey girl named Alice, who is impressed and in awe of this seemingly "wordly" old man who waltzed into the village, performing neat little magic tricks and speaking a different language. Alice however, in that she truly believes that he possess magical powers. The illusionist later moves to Edinburgh in search of more jobs with Alice following him there. He tries to keep the magic alive for her by spending lavish gifts for her, even though he can barely afford it. He takes on meager jobs on the side to support the series of gifts, with one time being almost caught by Alice in a "normal" job. Later on, Alice find a young man in the city and falls in love with him. At this point, the illusion himself no longer really believes that performing magic tricks can truly support her fantasy and finally has to succumb to the demands of reality. Unable to admit to her in person that he is not who he appears, the illusionist leaves Alice with a bit of money and a note that says "Magicians do not exist". There he packs off and hops onto a train.
Sorry that wasn't too great of a summary of the film. I watched it way back in early March I think so my memory of it is quite fuzzy. I'd say search around for a proper review because I think it's worth reading about and of course, eventually seeing it. This film was refreshing because it's hand drawn and whimsical, with some sort of child like innocence to it, which reminds me of Miyazaki Hayao's Totoro- my all time favourite animated featured ever next to Nausicaa: Valley of the Wind, both of which I truly truly recommend to see if you have not seen it yet. This film does have its flaws however it was heartfelt and unexpectedly humourous, something that I haven't seen much of in a while (ok, I lie I think I saw a bit of that in The King's Speech). Though I have to say unlike The King's Speech which was also absolutely phenomenal by the way, this French British production touches me in ways much deeper than the one of the stuttering king. It reminds me of how we can sometimes stubbornly hold onto the older things in the past, that it also evokes of the struggle between les grands magasins and les petites boutiques in Emile Zola's Au Bonheur des Dames. What is truly poignant about the film though is the story behind it, that late screenwriter Jacques Tati was trying to use this film to reach out to his estranged daughter. Granted this was never directly addressed in the film, but it is quite evident that the old illusionist was trying to be a fatherly figure for the young Alice and prolong her fascination for him. He knows that he is no magician, yet despite all odds, he strives to maintain his persona of being a "true" magician to Alice.
Individual images taken from Style.com of designer Beloved, pasted together by me in PS.Enough of the film analysis! This was suppose to be a fashion post but I guessed I became too overly verbose again? This is what I liked to think the old man might wear if I had to translate him into real life. Frankly, he probably wouldn't be caught spending money on such finery and frippery in real life. But I suppose a girl can dream, in the far off "what if" land. The illusionist though would stuck to trusty Harris Tweeds with zany and colorful combinations and working in other subtle quirky twists. I think girls can also take note of the some of fashion, such as the colour combo plus the brogues and the blouse in a timeless vintage manner that is so popular right now.
And now for the very reason of the post. I was heavily debating on whether to post this or not, even though this blog is in no way professional. I had a heavy post only a few weeks before and do not wish to upset the trend of posting lighter and happier things. Nonetheless, now that I decided to write on The Illusionist, I figure I must do this after all. This post is dedicated to my wonderful grandfather who just passed away today. I have shed quite a few tears today once I got the email from my father and the phone call from my mother (it's her dad). This is quite a shocker since it's the first time anyone in my immediate family has died. I have been lucky to have all four grandparents alive with all fairly decent in health. I take solace in the fact though that he died comfortably and peacefully in his sleep at the grand old age of 90. My mother was by his side the whole time taking care of him in the hospital (he was admitted two days earlier before when he first collapsed, in fact his heart had stopped beating before being revived by the paramedics). Already he proved to be quite a fighter because the doctors did not expect him to last even the first night let alone carry on for the next two. For me he was a true magician, because of all the great memories spent together when I was a little kid (at least from what little I remember from when I was five). He was very learned man who spoke English, Cantonese and Japanese fluently and would always tell me fascinating stories of WWII and life in Hong Kong and such from back in the day. He would always buy my ice cream after school and make me promise not to tell my parents. He would hold my hand and bring me to the local botanical garden that also served as a mini zoo in Hong Kong. The only regret I feel as a granddaughter was that I was never able to say my final goodbyes to him, being all the way across the Pacific ocean. I am looking for ways to find a closure of some sort - one idea I have right now is to mail him a letter which can be burnt later as paper offering at the funeral. I also regret not being to be there for my mother when she also had to be the one who had to reassure me that everything back home is otherwise fine and dandy. So then dearest 公公, you were the very best grandfather a granddaughter can ask for. I will always love you and you will always be in my thoughts.
December 25th 1920 - April 14th 2011