The Illusionist (De Illusionist)

Director: Jos Stelling
Screenwriters: Freek De Jonge, Jos Stelling

Institute History

  • 1985 Sundance Film Festival


An international pic, inasmuch as it contains no dialogue; an original story, intriguing story-telling, beautiful photography, ingenious editing, and a bravura performance by its lead Freek De Jonge . . .He and Stelling took the risk of excluding dialogue, and succeeded. Due to a clever script and an imaginative score, the viewer hardly realizes that there are no words. Phenomena editing of Rimlo Haanstra makes it possible to follow without any difficulty the fantastical imaginings of a character who—right at the beginning of the film—is vaguely seen looking around the door.

Reality and illusion seamlessly fuse in the story of two brothers, one with narrow minded, bigoted, penny-pinching and soul cramping ideas and ambitions, and the younger one, mentally retarded, a child in a man’s body. The latter is sent to a mental hospital. The older son, the illusionist, tries to rescue him. Told this way, it’s not much of a story. But the film is often very funny, sometimes melancholy, creepy at times and always fascinating. The main virtue of the film is that it’s never heavy-handed or preachy, due to Stelling’s imaginative helming and De Jonge’s writing and acting.

— Wall., Variety

Screening Details

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