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Directed by Neil Burger
Czech Republic / USA 
2006

 

Based on Steven Millhauser’s short story, “Eisenheim the Illusionist,” Neil Burger's 2006 film, The Illusionist, is appropriately set in the turn-of-the-century Austro-Hungarian Empire with Van Dyke-bearded Edward Norton's penetrating stare and a haunting Philip Glass score as keen parts of its mysterious and alluring aura. The plot revolves around some potential political volatility with a young and masterful magician figuring in as an integral cog in the country's future. His, once, puppy-love with royal Sophie (Jessica Biel) surfaces as a less developed and uninteresting element in the intriguing and intentionally paced plot.


Bottom line is this is a very entertaining, if also obviously audience-catering project. Norton, established as one of the most charismatic actors of his generation defines the role exceptionally well with adept Paul Giamatti playing go-between Chief Inspector Uhl and one-dimensional Biel as pleasurable eye-candy support. Burger does an admirable job and his atmospheric development, detailed art production and 'magic' performance base has lead The Illusionist to have a strong following with well deserved support. It may not be a masterpiece but it is one of the better films I saw from 2006. It has a keen focal subtext of
perception, power and pride.

Gary W. Tooze

Posters

Theatrical Release: April 27th 2006 - Newport Beach International Film Festival 

Reviews      More Reviews      DVD Reviews

Comparison:

20th Century Fox - Region 1 - NTSC vs. Alliance - Region 'A' - Blu-ray vs. Twentieth Century Fox - Region 'A' - Blu-ray

 

1) 20th Century Fox - Region 1 - NTSC LEFT

2) Alliance - Region 'A' - Blu-ray MIDDLE

3) Twentieth Century Fox - Region 'A' - Blu-ray RIGHT

 

DVD Box Cover

 

Distribution 20th Century Fox Home Video - Region 1 - NTSC Alliance (Universal) - Region 'A' - Blu-ray 20th Century Fox - Region 'A' - Blu-ray
Runtime 1:48:48  1:48:56.613 1:48:56.613
Video 1.78:1 Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 8.13 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

1080P Single-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 21,341,657,343 bytes

Feature: 21,208,166,400 bytes

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

Total Bitrate: 25.96 Mbps

1080P Single-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 21,434,349,598 bytes

Feature: 21,208,160,256 bytes

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

Total Bitrate: 25.96 Mbps

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate:  Fox DVD

Bitrate:  Alliance Blu-ray

Bitrate:  Fox Blu-ray

Audio English (Dolby Digital 5.1)  DTS-HD Master Audio English 3698 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 3698 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
Dolby Digital Audio English 448 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 448 kbps
Dolby Digital Audio French 448 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 448 kbps
DTS-HD Master Audio English 3698 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 3698 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
Dolby Digital Audio English 448 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 448 kbps / DN -4dB
Dolby Digital Audio French 448 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 448 kbps / DN -4dB
Subtitles English, Spanish, None None None
Features

Release Information:
Studio: 20th Century Fox Home Video

Aspect Ratio:
Original Aspect Ratio 1.78:1

Edition Details:

• Commentary by writer/directed Neil Burger
• "Making of The Illusionist" featurette
• Jessica Biel on The Illusionist" featurette
• Theatrical Trailer

DVD Release Date: January 9th, 2007

Keep Case
Chapters: 28

Release Information:
Studio: Alliance

1080P Single-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 21,341,657,343 bytes

Feature: 21,208,166,400 bytes

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

Total Bitrate: 25.96 Mbps

Edition Details:

• none

Blu-ray Release Date: May 5th, 2009
Standard
Blu-ray Case
Chapters: 28

Release Information:
Studio:
Fox

1080P Single-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 21,434,349,598 bytes

Feature: 21,208,160,256 bytes

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

Total Bitrate: 25.96 Mbps

Edition Details:

• none

Blu-ray Release Date: June 8th, 2010
Standard
Blu-ray Case
Chapters: 28

 

Comments:

NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were ripped directly from the Blu-ray disc.

ADDITION: Fox - Region 'A' Blu-ray - June 10': Fox have used the exact same transfer (and lone bilingual menu) as on the Canadian Alliance disc. Exact same audio and no extras. The slight difference in the file size may be the Fox logo as opposed to the Alliance one. Fox have included the DVD in their package but it's almost double the price of the Alliance Blu-ray - not even considering the exchange rate. If you want this Blu-ray just buy the Canadian - they deliver to the US.

***

 

ADDITION: Alliance - Region 'A' Blu-ray - May 09': Alliance haven't done their usual screw-up with this hi-def transfer. It is both progressive and in the correct aspect ratio (or near enough at 1.78). Unfortunately the film's use of a pronounced style - the sepia and softer lens are trying to give the impression of the 'turn-of-the-century' era - doesn't make the high-definition look as definitively stronger as in other comparisons. In short - detail is marginally improved, colors in skin tones are notable as warmer and less orange, black levels are a bit richer, and the film shows the grittiness texture of the grain, and the artifacts that still exist are lesser in intensity. I think you'd have to have a fairly discerning eye to make note of them in the static captures below - but I can assure you the superiority exists.

Audio is another case though and the DTS-HD Master 5.1 at 3698 kbps makes full use of the sparse segments where it is most utilized. It sounded quite buoyant at those times and, for those keen, the audio is a definite jump ahead.      

This is a typical Alliance Blu-ray release - no extras, no subtitles - not even menus. It can be a positive thing though not to have to laboriously advance through unnecessary trailers and adverts. You stick the disc in and the film starts.

The bonus is the price - at the writing of this review $17.95 CAD = $15.34 USD and, if you enjoyed the film, the double-dipping may be worthwhile. For those that haven't watched The Illusionist - this Blu-ray is the definitive digital presentation at the present time. 

***

 

ON THE DVD (written in 2007): The image is a good one - as one might expect from a digitally transferred Fox film released in 2006. The CGI and lighting 'tricks' aren't overly obvious on the DVD image. Blacks are deep and detail is strong. It is both anamorphic and progressive with decent optional subtitles in either English or Spanish. The largely untested 5.1 track is solid.

There is a commentary by director Burger included and it is good and worth listening to, if not intensely riveting. He relates a lot of the pre-production details of the story and working with the three leads - all positive stuff with some good background on the illusions themselves. He shows that he was keenly aware of many extraneous details of the project. There are two featurettes - a Making of - only 4 minutes long and another with Jessica Biel giving a few lines about her role (only 2 minutes). There is also a theatrical trailer - plus ones for 3 other films. Highly recommended - Fox's reasonable price gives this very good value and an enjoyable evening for the family. 

Gary W. Tooze

 



DVD Menus


 


CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE BELOW TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

Subtitle Sample

 

1) 20th Century Fox - Region 1 - NTSC TOP

2) Alliance - Region 'A' - Blu-ray MIDDLE

3) Twentieth Century Fox - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


 

Screen Captures

 

1) 20th Century Fox - Region 1 - NTSC TOP

2) Alliance - Region 'A' - Blu-ray MIDDLE

3) Twentieth Century Fox - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


1) 20th Century Fox - Region 1 - NTSC TOP

2) Alliance - Region 'A' - Blu-ray MIDDLE

3) Twentieth Century Fox - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


1) 20th Century Fox - Region 1 - NTSC TOP

2) Alliance - Region 'A' - Blu-ray MIDDLE

3) Twentieth Century Fox - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


1) 20th Century Fox - Region 1 - NTSC TOP

2) Alliance - Region 'A' - Blu-ray MIDDLE

3) Twentieth Century Fox - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


1) 20th Century Fox - Region 1 - NTSC TOP

2) Alliance - Region 'A' - Blu-ray MIDDLE

3) Twentieth Century Fox - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 


1) 20th Century Fox - Region 1 - NTSC TOP

2) Alliance - Region 'A' - Blu-ray MIDDLE

3) Twentieth Century Fox - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


More Blu-ray captures

 


DVD Box Cover

 

Distribution 20th Century Fox Home Video - Region 1 - NTSC Alliance (Universal) - Region 'A' - Blu-ray 20th Century Fox - Region 'A' - Blu-ray




 

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Gary Tooze

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