In the 1980’s I decided to pursue a romantic liaison with Paula Rogers. Not being one to rush things, and desperate to avoid rejection, I hoped my telepathic skills would suffice and eventually she would realise the man of her dreams had been me all along. In just three short years my stealth seduction technique worked and we embarked on a spectacularly eventful and ultimately disastrous five-day relationship.
The Illusionist is an animated film that took six years to make and only eighty minutes to consume – a ratio of effort to output that makes my amorous adventure with Paula seem like instant gratification.
In todays on-demand, same-day delivery, microwavable world it is easy to see why such a film will remain a rare cinematic treat. Patience is no longer a virtue and speed is king. Modern animation is to The Illusionist what Tinder is to my technique of romantic wishful thinking.
The film is a melancholy tale of change and ultimate obsolescence. Beautifully hand drawn with every frame an authentic watercolor that captured the essence of Edinburgh – from the milky light to the stark gothic architecture. The story is one of an old school, vaudevillian style magician who is facing the changing tastes and diminishing size of his audience and his relationship with a young girl who he forms a paternal bond with (incidentally, following Jimmy Saville, Rolf Harris, et al, it is hard to see an aging entertainer shower a young girl with gifts without raising an eyebrow – which rather pollutes the inherent innocence of this heart felt story, thanks fellas)
The melancholy is tempered by the comic relief of an alcoholic ventriloquist, a suicidal clown, a troop of hyperactive acrobats, a new wave rock and roll band and an anti social rabbit. The fate of the ensemble cast remains unknown, save for the rabbit, which was abandoned on a remote hillside to make his own way in the world in a sort of Watership Down remake.
It is telling that I felt more sympathy with the rabbit than with the ending of the father daughter relationship at the heart of the narrative. I guess I find complex human relationships difficult to empathize with. Thanks Paula.