A teacher on a Greek island becomes involved in bizarre mind-games with the island's magus (magician) and a beautiful young woman.A teacher on a Greek island becomes involved in bizarre mind-games with the island's magus (magician) and a beautiful young woman.A teacher on a Greek island becomes involved in bizarre mind-games with the island's magus (magician) and a beautiful young woman.
Actually, it all reminded me of L'INVENZIONE DI MOREL (1974) - another obscure island-set drama where a man intrudes upon a remote community sharing an exclusive fantasy existence: incidentally, that film was partly shot in my native country and also featured Anna Karina (who in THE MAGUS has the rather thankless role of Caine's jilted girlfriend - though her performance is quite good and his callous treatment of Karina has a strong bearing on the main character's ultimate personal growth) as the mystery woman who captivates the hero; with this in mind, as I lay watching the film under review, I wondered at the possibilities had Karina exchanged her role with that of Candice Bergen (who's too young for her role but great to look at nonetheless).
Then again, the subject matter was far more congenial to a Joseph Losey rather than the journeyman Guy Green...and one can only surmise how different - and more significant - the film would have been in the former's hands! As it stands, there are some undeniably compelling passages but also a lot of shallow modishness (the skin-flick with Bergen and Julian Glover[!] at the climax is plain risible) and lame moralizing (the WWII flashback scenes, featuring a bizarrely but effectively cast Corin Redgrave as the Nazi Commandant, being especially maudlin).
At several points towards the end, it feels like the story is coming to some sort of conclusion but it just goes on and on, peeling off yet another layer to the meandering enigma; to get an inkling of what the film is like, just imagine watching two of the more cerebral episodes of the cult TV series "The Prisoner" (1967-68) back-to-back! In hindsight, the film's epitaph may have been delivered by none other than Woody Allen who once remarked that, if he had to live his life all over again, he would do everything exactly the same...except watch THE MAGUS. As for myself, I wouldn't mind taking another look at it in future: by then I'd be over the initial "shock" and could perhaps appreciate it better...
- Feb 23, 2007