An English teacher arrives on a sleepy Greek island to take up a vacant teaching post. The last man to hold the post committed suicide under mysterious circumstances. Slowly but surely, he is drawn into a bizarre game engineered by a reclusive local magician. The deeper into the game he is drawn, the more he senses danger... yet cannot seem to untangle himself from the fascinating and compelling influence that the game is having on his mind. Written by
Jonathon Dabell <firstname.lastname@example.org>
When Woody Allen was asked whether he'd make changes in his life if he had the opportunity to do it all over again, he replied he'd do "everything exactly the same, with the exception of watching 'The Magus'." See more »
Fowles' first novel became the darling of the emerging counterculture of the 60s. It fit a handy niche of layered narratives, connected in ways that emulated the emergence of "secret" cosmologies. By itself, it created a little stir because of the way it was folded by a certain kabbalistic technique while including reference to that technique.
The history of this makes it essential viewing. Its Fowles' first novel, partially autobiographical, taking over a decade to write. Its grand, risky, sloppy. It is perfect in its way, being as confusing in how it is written as the narrator within is. Its a happy accident that its deficiencies increase the effect.
The screenplay is quite a bit more incompetent and at the same time leaving out most of the ambiguities in the story. So the film is a disaster. Fowles would later straighten up the narrative in the novel and issue what in the film world would be a "director's cut" which tries to keep the ambiguities in the story but reduce them in the narration. Its far less effective than the original.
So why should you see this? Because it is a historical document that changed things significantly. Its based on two sources: one was a then little-known set of Kabbalistic lessons on Tarot ambiguities. The other is a piece of literary theory from the thirties: "Seven Types of Ambiguity." (Don't search it out: it is far less interesting than the title implies.)
Fowles simply conflated his own life (and remorse over handling a romance) into these two notions, deliberately trying to capture the seven types which incidentally inform my study of narrative folding.
In September of 1966 while in Spain for the filming of "How I Won the War," John Lennon, who hardly read anything, read this (twice, once heavily rugged) and it changed his life, the direction of The Beatles and hence enfranchised a new form of narrative. (He called and later visited Fowles while this script was in development. There is no artifact of that in the script.)
Its not Joyce, but it is the child of what he envisioned, dumbed down, but still raising the bar for narrative structure and affecting I assert nearly everything.
Ted's Evaluation -- 3 of 3: Worth watching.
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