Blu-ray: Magic (1978)
Magic is a slow paced psychological thriller with a superb central performance by Anthony Hopkins as shy and reserved magician Corky, who finds fame and fortune after being paired with a ventriloquist dummy called “Fats”.
Unfortunately for Corky this fame comes at a cost, mostly to his psyche, which is split between his ever more schizophrenic self and the intimidating Fats, whose dead eyed stare hides the inner turmoil of its (his?) on stage partner.
Director Richard Attenborough builds the tension gradually, allowing Corky to slowly unravel before your eyes, as his very soul seems to bleed more into Fats with every passing minute. Corky’s once quiet and reticent demeanour now transforming into an aggressive and verbose caricature of his own self, as he and Fats seemingly become a single entity, with Fats being the dominant force pushing Corky to commit acts that would otherwise have been unthinkable to him.
It says a lot about the atmosphere, tension, and acting in the movie, when one of the most memorable scenes involves 2 men sitting opposite each other in virtual silence for nearly 5 minutes. Hopkins going from confident and cocky, to sweaty and twitchy within minutes, knowing that he has to be a part of Fats and can’t properly converse without doing it through his insane alter-ego.
Anyone expecting a Chucky-like “killer doll” movie will be sorely disappointed, not only in the lack of a crazy possessed doll killing people, but also in the lack of blood and gore too. Magic gives it chills through an increasingly pressurised sense of tension where Corky, aided by his constant companion Fats, could go off the rails at any moment. This might just be a sudden sharp comment, or even a head turn (by Corky or Fats) that implies imminent danger to whomever it is directed at, and it is in these moments where the viewer is drawn even deeper into a dark narrative where you know there will not be a happy ending, but are never sure just how events will play out.
- Screenwriting for Dummies: William Goldman interview
- Archive Anthony Hopkins interview
- Victor Kemper: Cinematographer
- Ann-Margret make-up test
- Fats and Friends: a history of ventriloquism with the film’s consultant
- Anthony Hopkins archive radio interview
- Trailer, TV Spots, Radio Spots
- English subtitles for the hearing impaired
Release date: 23rd March 2020
Review by Dave from a disc kindly supplied by Second Sight Films via Aim Publicity.
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