David Blaine: Street Magic (TV Movie 1996) Poster

(1996 TV Movie)

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Laughter and Amazement
harry-7621 October 2002
After magic went so high-tech following the Harry Blackstone era, it looked like there was nowhere left to go.

During the latter half of the 20th century we had the most entertaining Doug Hemmings, whose impish personality and showbiz savvy won over many fans.

This was followed with David Copperfield, who started small, then grew to a gargantuan size, levitating railroad cars and making elephants disappear. By the time he involved the Statue of Liberty as a foil, that seemed to signal the "end of the line" in terms of subject material.

How refreshing it is to come across David Blaine, walking through the streets, inviting pedestrians to participate in his fun tricks. "Ordinary" folks appear to be great sports and to fully appreciate Blaine's brand of illusionary style.

What this skillful magician has done is to "rescue" magic from its "runaway," over-produced image of late, and return it to the smaller-scale format. The camera crew here picks up the intricacies of Blaine's card tricks, as well as the astonished reactions of both participants and spectators.

Harry Houdini learned somewhat early on that it's not so much what you do, rather what you make others believe you do. "Dress it up" and make it interesting: display a degree of vulnerability, revelation, doubt, suspense, humor and style. Thus, it's not in the "steak" but in the "sizzle" that counts.

Blaine has accomplished this, picking up in some cases where Houdini followers left off (I don't recall any of these big-name illusionists performing the mind-bending self-levitation). What's more, Blaine walks around not in tux but T, along with jeans and sneakers. He looks like a smart "42nd Street slicker" performing his stunts, only without the "tin cup."

What great tricks they are! He seems to have honed his skills to perfection, and his "cool" style delivery only adds to the amazement of the audience. What appears to be a theatrical combination of advanced magic, metaphysical acumen, and Hindu meditative concentration, Blaine is a most refreshing new personality to the magic scene. This film nicely captures the sheer fun and amazement he brings to his appreciative audience through this age-old craft.
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The power of editing
modius4 November 2002
I've heard quite a lot of fuss over David Blaine. Sure he is a magnificent show-performer, entertainer and indeed magician - no question he is as big as his self-publising machine promotes himself to be. And he also has Uri Geller and Micheal Jackson as his friends. Whether that's a good thing or not is up to you.

Anyway, I'm not sure what to make of street magic. Sure it is amazing, and sure its totally different to the magic shows of Copperfield, etc but there's something quite not right. Its the editing. How many times does the camera cut between each shot or trick? If he were as good as he says he is he wouldn't need slick cutting.

There's also a problem that the camera focuses in, out or intersplices reactions from the crowd with different shots...I question what I see on the screen. And I think that's a good thing.

Anyway, its good entertainment...but its all down to the editing.
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Good low-key, clever show
caa82116 March 2007
A lot of these types of tricks and illusions are similar to those done by Chris Angel, also an excellent, younger illusionist/magician. I enjoy both, and saw this program recently for the second time in a few years.

As with Angel, I enjoy this type of close-up magic, done in public, more than the elaborate illusions involving being submerged, buried, etc.

And Blaine's quiet, low-key (almost laconic, at times) style is an interesting contrast to Angel's more frenetic pace and personality - but their differences work well for each.

As he completed the card-switching trick with running back Smith in the Dallas Cowboys' locker room, and later did a similar switch with one of the coaches, and then and

another man with his friends on the street - you could get a sense of what he was doing with the cards. The result was Smith having two black aces where he thought he had the two red queens, and similarly (with different card sequences but the same results for the other men).

You had a sense as he moved the original two cards, and then posed the question for the participant to concentrate and be assured as to which of the original cards on top or bottom within his grasp (only one card was used with the coach) ---- of his succeeding with his movements in making the switch, but this made the trick all the more interesting. We all know there was no "magic" or extrasensory power which caused the switch, and knowing his precise sleight-of-hand was responsible made it completely, and all-the-more, fascinating.

Some have suspected that camera cutaways or splicing sequences instead of all tricks being done without pause as depicted are part of the presentation. This is always possible, but in the sequence where the chosen card appears in the little girl's back pocket, as he sits at a lunch table with her and her mother - it seems impossible as revealed, to be possible legitimate. All seemed to be done in sequence, with no camera tricks or interruptions. If the others were in any way confederates, the mother is a better actress than Meryl Streep, and the girl superior to Shirley Temple at her best.

But, whatever, the guy is deft, clever, and with so many performers in every genre so loud and frenetic, I find his low-key approach an enhancement to enjoying his work.
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Doubled Performances
tedg27 October 2005
I admit I am a movie obsessive. The things I obsess about have to do with the nature of the thing.

I'm astonished at the variety of modes we have for one person or a group to perform and communicate.

The most interesting movies have a couple layers, for instance here we have a presentation (a TeeVee show) about a presentation, Blaine's street act.

What's cool about this is that you have to satisfy two audiences, manipulate two sets of media constraints. Okay, that is interesting enough, but the whole thing is centered on one device: sleight of hand.

Now, the entertainment value if sleight of hand is the apparent candor, the openness of the performer. So not only do we have the normal constraints of the media, but we have to go so much further in the immediacy and honesty involved.

Does this succeed? Yeah, I guess it does.

Ted's Evaluation -- 2 of 3: Has some interesting elements.
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