5 Excellent Movies about Magicians and Mentalists

For centuries people from all walks of life have been fascinated, perplexed and challenged by magic and magicians. And screen writers are no exception. Many of them have tried to capture the danger, excitement and mystery of magic by combing movie sorcery with exciting narratives about the lives of magicians and mentalists. Here are a few movies that have excelled when it comes to showcasing magic at its finest and most dangerous

  • Houdini (1953): Starring Tony Curtis and his wife Janet Leigh as his wife Beth, Houdini gives a fictionalized version of the most famous magician the world has ever produced. This big screen depiction of the master escape artist is truly compelling and is one of the few movies that have ever attempted to capture Houdini’s brilliance, drive and passion for the art and craft of magic.
  • Lord of Illusions (1995): This movie is creepy, suspenseful and downright fun. It tells the story of a detective played by Scott Backula who travels to Los Angeles and meets with a new client, Dorothea Swann (Famke Janssen). Here he tries to protect Swann from a ruthless cult. The movie creates a world where magic is real and reality yields to it.
  • The Illusionist (2006): This movie takes place in 1900s Vienna and centers on entertainer Eisenheim’s (played by Edward Norton) magical abilities. Although he regularly thrills and delights audiences he struggles with his love for Duchess Sophie von Teschen (Jessica Biel.)
  • The Prestige (2006): This movie focuses on the bitter rivalry between two magicians – played by Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale. It deals with the obsession and pride that both magicians feel and how these feelings ultimately spiral out of control leading to an unguessable twist ending. The supporting cast of the movie includes Michael Caine, Scarlett Johansson and the late David Bowie.
  • Now You See Me (2013): The tagline for this movie is “the closer you think you are the less you will actually see.” This phrase sums up the idea of street magic nicely and the movie deals with four former street magicians who use their magic to drain the bank accounts of the corrupt and funnel the money to audience members.houdini

In short, movie makers have had varying degrees of success satisfying the public’s insatiable curiosity about magic and magicians. However, nothing beats seeing a magician in person. That is, nothing except interacting with one as he/she does his/her magic and brings you into the act. This is what a strolling magician does. My street magic and mentalist show in NYC are done without a net so to speak. But that is part of the excitement that film, books and magazines have tried to capture.


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