|The Illusionist (1984)|
In the Illusionist fiction, reality, dream and illusion effortlessly blend together. Everything happens in the imagination of a figure who looks around the corner of a (theatre) dressing room in the beginning of the film. It is the story of two brothers, one of whom pursues his ambitions, while the other is sent to a mental institution by their parents. Lost childhood, failed ambitions, the threat of brain surgery, an unremitting mother, a suicidal father and a rich grandfather define the course of action. The film has no dialogue. Jos Stelling and Freek de Jonge wrote the scenario with Freek's theatre production 'De Tragiek' as a starting point.
Once again a theatre show was the starting point for a new film. Jos Stelling saw ‘De Komiek’ (the comedian) by Freek de Jonge and wished to distil a film out of it, but De Jonge believed that ‘De Tragiek’ (the tragedy) would be better suited. This time Stelling did continue with another artist, who also got the lead opposite Jim van der Woude, who played his brother. What Stelling had feared would happen during a close collaboration with Herman van Veen, happened now during the shooting. Up to and including the final editing there were continuous clashes in the artistic views of Stelling and the Jonge. Freek de Jonge’s company, Big Boy Productions, co-produced the film, leading him to conclude that not only did he have the lead role, but that he also had just as much say in the final product as Jos Stelling.
As in earlier films, The Illusionist hardly contains a story to speak of. Freek de Jonge plays the son of a miller in the country, who is looking for the magic of the theatre and is stuck with his mentally handicapped brother. This leads to a succession of tragicomic scenes with references to themes like missed ambitions and lost youth, round a family full of peculiar personalities.
Main character Freek de Jonge
Director Jos Stelling
Dutch Film Critics Prize, Dutch Film Festival, 1984
Golden Calf Best Long Feature, Dutch Film Festival, 1984
Golden Calf Best Actor, Gerard Thoolen, Dutch Film Festival, 1984
Audience Award, São Paolo International Film Festival (Brazil), 1985