Text and Photo by Nora Vasconcelos
I don’t exactly recall when it was that I found out that the movie The Illusionist (starring Edward Norton) had been based upon a story written by Steven Millhauser, but once I knew it, I remember myself getting really curious about it.
Soon I learned that the story was, in fact, a short story part of a collection of works written by Millhauser and published in 1990 under the title of The Barnum Museum.
Then I got really really curious about the story. I was amazed by the idea that a short story could give the idea for a whole movie, and kept on thinking that it had to be a fantastic tale full of precise details.
As time passed by, I remained curious about it until I finally got the book (2007 edition). Then I went straight to the story called Eisenheim The Illusionist.
And then, as it happened to me while seing the movie, I became part of the illusion one more time.
From page 215 to page 237, the words caught all my attention, bringing out lively images of the amazing achivements of this unique magician capable of enchanting people.
The tricks, the ambience, the gestures of Eisenheim, the exclamations of the public… all of them came alive, as if I were seated somewhere in the middle of this theater in Vienna that was the silent witness of the magical arts of this man who’d been able to combine science, technology and persuation to make people believe that it was true what was in fact an illution.
Then I got to the last word of the story, and again, as in the movie, the feeling of having being part of the enchanment remained for along while.