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The Illusionist (2006)

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In turn-of-the-century Vienna, a magician uses his abilities to secure the love of a woman far above his social standing.



(screenplay), (short story "Eisenheim the Illusionist")
1,390 ( 19)
Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 10 wins & 10 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Josef Fischer (as Edward Marsan)
Young Eisenheim (as Aaron Johnson)
Doctor / Old Man
Herr Doebler
Philip McGough ...
Dr. Hofzinser
Count Rainer
Von Thurnburg


In late nineteenth century Vienna, renowned illusionist Eisenheim is reunited with the Duchess von Teschen when she is volunteered from the audience to participate in an illusion during one of his performances. Despite having not seen each other in fifteen years when they were teenagers, they almost immediately recognize each other as Eduard Abramovich and Sophie von Teschen, they who had a doomed romance at that time due to their class differences. The Duchess is soon to be wed to the Crown Prince Leopold in what would be for him a marriage solely in pursuit of power: overthrowing his father, the Emperor Leopold, as well as overtaking the Hungarian side of the empire. The Crown Prince is known to use violence against women if it suits his needs or purposes. As such, the Duchess, who realizes that she still loves Eisenheim and he her, can never leave the Crown Prince without it jeopardizing her life. After Eisenheim humiliates the Crown Prince at a private show which results in an ... Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Nothing is what it seems

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for some sexuality and violence | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:



Official Sites:




Release Date:

1 September 2006 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

El ilusionista  »


Box Office


$16,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$927,956, 20 August 2006, Limited Release

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


Although the story is fictional, some details are based on the life of Austrian Crown Prince Rudolf, only son of Emperor Franz Josef. The painting Eisenheim creates is an actual portrait of Franz Josef. The bodies of Rudolf and his mistress, the Baroness Mary Vetsera, were found at his hunting lodge, Mayerling, on January 30, 1889, in what became known as the "Mayerling Incident". The Imperial Family covered it up at first, creating controversy and mystery. See more »


At around the 20:17 mark, When Inspector Uhl is inspecting the props backstage, Eisenheim has his arms at his side during their conversation. Then suddenly he is facing the inspector at a different angle and his arms are crossed. See more »


[first lines]
woman in audience: It's her. I know it's her! She wants to tell us something.
See more »


Referenced in Burning Love: Pop Culture Contest (2013) See more »

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User Reviews

Like the Moody Blues song asks--"real or just an illusion?"
9 August 2006 | by See all my reviews

Kind of a strange movie but very original and entertaining! It was a Gothic-romance period-piece drama-mystery, and quirky characters and a bizarre--or at least unusual--plot held my interest.

Edward Norton's character plays an inscrutable but romantic master illusionist. But is he just a master illusionist or has he developed powers to effect the creepy conjuring of those who have passed on? (Regardless, the guy is so easy on the eyes.)

Jessica Biel is beautiful and good in her role but I couldn't help thinking, "Hey, Jessica, Scarlett Johanssen called. She wants her lips back."

Paul Giamatti bothered me just a tad at first because he spoke in a near-whisper and had a scruffy beard so you couldn't read his lips. He got louder and his character developed pretty darned well, thank goodness. Actually, he was fantastic (so what else is new?).

The makers of this movie did the same thing the makers of Little Miss Sunshine did--made me want to see the film twice, but for different reasons: LMS because the first time I saw it, I laughed so hard I cried, and I really needed a laugh again (and got it); The Illusionist because I was like the audience for the title character's shows the first time I saw it--just kind of naive and awed and staring up at the action with my mouth hanging open. So I'll have to see it again and pay attention. Kind of like when my daughter told me to go see The Sixth Sense again and pay attention to what Bruce Willis's character was wearing. (Plot-wise, this is unrelated, folks--just a movie watcher's analogy.)

At first, the old-fashioned circle wipes seemed a little distracting, but in retrospect, they were part of the excellent movie-making decisions that created the illusion of time and place in this film. A really good story with really good art direction and really good actors, costumes and settings. Definitely worth a go-see--or two!

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