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Psychological analysis of the movie, illusionist

 Modern film industry has contributed to the fascinations in the psychological world. Many movies have been developed to explore different situations which can be psychologically be interpreted.  These situations happen in our day to day life.  Analyzing a movie through psychological perspective can be very interesting and enables one to analyze a movie better. This can be through the actions of the characters and how they view the world around them.

 This paper will provide an in-depth analysis of the movie Illusionist, 2006 by providing a summary of the movie and using the psychological perspective to analyze the movie.  The setting of the movie is in the late 1800s in Vienna.  The main protagonist Eisenheim is a famous magician who causes trouble towards the autocratic prince. Despite the magical talents that he has his social science position in Europe does not allow him to earn his appreciation and respect. He comes to discover  that his childhood love Sophie who has now become a high society member was to get  married to  prince Leopold who is a truant  but  also  intelligent.  He then knows that he can’t do anything to win back the love he had for Sophie. But through   his persistence, wits and talents he manages to the kindle the romantic relationship they had with his dream lady.  This makes Eisenheim responsible for keeping away from trouble form Sophie’s fiancé and from the corrupt inspector called Uhl.

 The story is told from the perspective of the Vienna chief Inspector Uhl. He is in between the magician prince and the Crown prince (Burger, 2009. Through him, we learn what he discovers especially on where the powers lay between the two men under conflict.  Just like the Prince, Uhl believes that there is scientific explanation for everything around the world and nothing does happen just for the sake of happening. However he finds Eisenheim magic powers to be very fascinating. As the head of investigations in the city, he tries to understand what happens with the common man and he identifies with them in search for truth and meaning.  As the movie proceeds, Uhl embraces spiritualism and sometimes towards materialism. He keeps asking on ways which can explain the priest-magician   sacramental powers or weather these powers be believed through faith (News, 2006).

 We first encounter Sophie at a tender age that is innocently in love with Eisenheim. They wish that they could disappear away from the adults who control her life but this is not possible. Sophie is then taken away from Eisenheim by force because she is a teen aristocrat and Eisenheim is a son of a cabinet maker.  Eisenheim has the power and gift of power and supernatural faith. He travels around the world displaying his power and perfecting his ability.  He returns back to Vienna as a self claimed illusionist. He meets  with Sophie when they have grown up and consummate their childhood relationship despite of her being already engaged to prince Leopold whom she is not in love with. Inspector of Vienna chief police greatly respects Eisenheim for his magical and supernatural powers.

  The psychological elements in the story is that it  tries to justify the premise that if faith  found  in the  supernatural shows in external life but the same faith in the skeptic or  material world leads to death. The Illusionists movie has every character and scene depicts conflict between values which are opposing. There is the conflict between the material world and the spiritual world. The main characters of the movie the illusionist are four who represent those on the extremes and those at the center in a given assertion. Power resides in the debate’s middle ground either in the spiritual realm or the materialistic realm.  The story portrays the Greeks old age question which has been in existence to the modern day. This question was however of particular interest in Europe past the last century grand invention and in the period of the industrial revolution. This is why the setting of the story takes place in Europe.  The question found in the premise and how characters interact with the postulations of the moral premise (moral premise blog, 2006).

 Eisenheim is the illusionist who symbolizes the spiritual realm of existence.  Like a priest, he has the supernatural power to loose or bind, to enact sacraments, to reward with eternal death or eternal life, and to judge the skeptics and the faithful. His speech gives a fore-shadow of life and death in the movie. He says that he will keep on examining time right from the start where human beings are born and live in life. The life we live according to him is mocked and measured but no human being an ever defy life. This portrays his how he interprets death band life through spiritual meaning.

 His next speech on the discussion of the soul which is discussed by many religions shows death. He calls out for volunteers who are not afraid of death. Two characters stand up who represent the application of the moral premise in two extremes. These characters are the Prince who stands to challenge Eisenheim perspective; we later learn that Crown prince is both afraid of death and life making him a quintessential skeptic. Sophie is the other volunteer offered by his fiancé.  Sophie is nether afraid of neither death nor life which make her a believer to Eisenheim who she believes to have special connection to truth.

 The reestablishment of the relationship between Eisenheim and Sophie symbolizes a conflict between the upper and middle class society in Vienna of the 19th century. Eisenheim move to rekindle the relations he ones had with Sophie is very dangerous to the working class especially to her fiancée prince Leopold.

   The prince through Uhl’s chagrin shows the people that he is genuine and trustworthy. Throughout the entire movie he questions the magic abilities of Eisenheim.  He tries to know the tick bend Eisenheim's magic and to crack his impenetrable attribute of being down to earth and calm. The prince as observed by viewers is a skeptic who doesn’t want to acknowledge that there is greater power than his own. Prince Leopold cannot stand anything or any ones with greater powers than his, he cant stand religion and superstition which tend to diminish the power he thinks he has.

 At the moment of grace, Eisenheim is given a role to perform. He is introduced by the prince to his audience through is moral premise paraphrase which says that Eisenheim has sold his soul to the evil sprit so as to be given holy power in exchange. This is because there is no way that the mysteries can be explained or penetrated according to the Price this is the only. The scientist agrees with the scientific materialism explanation given by crown prince.

The prince divine right is challenged when Eisenheim merges the prince sword made of steal (scientific materialism) with the spiritualism power.  A new sword strikes which astonished the audience even the prince himself. This action signifies a challenge to the divine right of the price to rule the heart of Sophie and the country. The price is embarrassed before his friends for dismissing supernatural and embracing materialism. Prince command Uhl to kill Eisenheim.

 Sophie meets Eisenheim in secret and they decide to run away together.  Death will be the foreseeable result when Sophie decides to go with Eisenheim and leave the Prince.  They ponder on the moral premise to establish the truth and the moment of grace. Eisenheim asks Sophie whether to run away with him. Her agreement to this question symbolizes the committed of a bride to his future husband during a wedding ceremony. The yes reply from Sophie also symbolizes the faith he has for Eisenheim to perform miracles despite of the challenges they foresee. It also shows that she is not afraid of death and to convince the viewers that Eisenheim powers are real.  Consequently, the prince future is threatened who is the source of power and knowledge in the scientific materialism.

 In conclusion, the magician role in the movie is to remind us of the existence of mystery, to wonder of it and to inspire awe. The supernatural power in the universe is an aspect greater than the powers and achievement of man. Through a trick in the movie because Sophie dies, we at a point felt that the magic was true. Thus the title of the move illusionist become relevant to show the various magical illusions we see through what faith leads to life forever and death is as a result of skepticism.


News (2006) retrieved from.

On November 29, 2010

 Neil Burger (2009). Audio commentary for The Illusionist.

 The moral premise blog (2006) the illusionist 2006.  Retrieved from

On November 29, 2010

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