An English teacher arrives on a sleepy Greek island to take up a vacant teaching post. The last man to hold the post committed suicide under mysterious circumstances. Slowly but surely, he is drawn into a bizarre game engineered by a reclusive local magician. The deeper into the game he is drawn, the more he senses danger... yet cannot seem to untangle himself from the fascinating and compelling influence that the game is having on his mind.
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my last review was about a movie i viewed at age ten (that one, mondocane, 1962) affected my life "quite a bit". here, at age twenty, myhorizons are all aglow with lust for life; and one little slide into aneconomy cambridge, massachusetts movie theatre during a 1972 middayspecial brought me upon the magus. the interesting setting mixed withan odd tension unlike i've ever experienced in any movie before (and iam an old movie buff: 1935 to 1975 being my strength) made me short ofbreath, my heart pounding hard as the depths drawn upon by these tooquite favorite (not quite most-favorite, but favorites, none-the-less)actors thrust me into an experience that unbeknownst to me was perhapstwo weeks away from presenting itself to me! so i drank thirstily fromthe cup, completely unaware that the lesson it would introduce to mymind could actually come in handy. i still look back at the oddrole-reversing theories it employed, and utilize the intendedjuxtapositional ideology as an everyday tool/ instrument/ weapon/defense... oh, heck: simply put, it's more like "you thought you hadme! well, now i have you, and i surrender, so now you have me onlybecause i agree to empower you!"...mmm, yeah, i'd say that could aboutsum it up.
Agreeably, The Magus was confusing and many critics hated it. However,very few novels can be condensed into a movie with all of the novel'smajor details. I do feel the movie captured the 'feel' of John Fowlesbook. It was mysterious, beautiful Greek Isle scenery and a great cast,especially a young and sexy Candice Bergen. I found it to be anexcellent cautionary tale. When the movie was released, I was a youngcollege student aspiring to become a high school teacher. This createda strong sense of identity within me for the Michael Caine character,and his punishment for bad behavior and later redemption. Warning,watching The Magus on TV is a waste because of commercial interruptionsand the editing massacred the script's flow, leaving a very confusingplot. Unfortunately, I do not think the flick is available on DVD?Postscript: Good news. Cinema Classics Collection is schedule torelease The Magus DVD on October 17, 2006. Hopefully it will be anunedited release version?
This review is from: The Magus (Amazon Instant Video) Maurice Conchis was greatly portrayed in this movie, watching him made it all worthwhile. That being said I cant give the movie five stars based on his performance alone. The scope of this movie is microscopic compared to the universe created in the book.
This is a very poor film version of the famous John Fowles book.It does notcome to grips with the complexities of the novel, and does not adequatelycover the twists and turns of the plot. It is reduced to Michael Cainehaving a romantic interlude in Greece, whilst Anthony Quinn amuses them withcharades in background.Anthony Quinn is well cast as the mysterious Conchis; Michael Caine is onlyso-so as the male lead Nicholas. Candice Bergen is truly awful in the roleof "Lily".If you want to see a good film version of a John Fowles novel, watch "TheCollector".
"UTRAM BIBIS? ANDAM UN ANDAM?" A latin phrase which translates "of which do you drink? the water or the wave?". This cryptic statement in John Fowles' novel may sum up the ethic behind the book and the film. It is a question not an answer. It is open ended and leaves you with either a sense of wonder or confusion. I saw the film first before I read the novel, so I may not be as biased as some of the reviewers about the film's shortcomings in comparison to the written work. It is indeed a relatively faithful adaptation of the book, although I understand Fowles was not happy with it. It is a film in which you are led down a series of garden paths. The Magus leads the man and reveals all, but wait...he shows a different reality. So is this the truth? Each time there is another "vision", another play within a play and each time reality bends a little more until you are not sure what is the truth or even if there is any truth in what is shown. The main character (Caine) is callow and somewhat uncaring, foregoing rather casually his first love, and is entrapped by the Magus's lovely "niece"(Candace Bergen). Even though each illusion is revealed as such, it does not destroy the magic, it only makes it seem more mysterious each time. It is a web of illusion which the man might either see as a privelege or a test. He is either the butt of a joke or the beneficiary of a play performed on his behalf in which he is the central figure. A mystical journey, disconcerting, disturbing at times, but in the end enlightening.
---I first saw this movie at the theater my second year of college (1968-69) in Texas. At that time, it being the late 1960's, it seemed perfectly normal to me that it was complex and confusing. It was psychedelic. How can anyone who enjoyed the Beatles "Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band," "Magical Mystery Tour," and the "White Album," not to mention The Doors' "Strange Days," or Iron Butterfly's "Inagodadavida" (sp?), complain about a movie that is confusing? ---Nicholas Urfe (Michael Caine) accepts a job as an English teacher at a private boys school on the idyllic Greek island of Phraxos. As he settles into his room, he finds a cryptic note left in a drawer by his predecessor who had committed suicide. The note reads "beware the waiting room." On the weekends Urfe explores the far side of the island and discovers the villa of the mysterious Maurice Conchis (Anthony Quinn) who invites him for weekend visits where Conchis entertains Urfe with his life story. In these stories of his past, Conchis presents to Urfe major dilemmas where the choices are life-changing. Subsequently, in a series of "Twilight Zonesque" time shifts, Urfe finds himself trapped into reliving these same stories and being forced to make the same life-changing choices. The effect is, well, "mind-blowing," both for the character Urfe, and for the viewer. Is Urfe hallucinating or dreaming, or is this a well-planned masque, directed by the "master-manipulator" Conchis, where Urfe is unwillingly cast as the central character? ---I guess my take on it is that the mind-blowing nature of the film fit very well with the zeitgeist of the late 1960's. The film itself may be lacking, but the greater story, only partly told in an abbreviated version in this movie, is much, much better than could ever be captured on film. Instinctively, I knew this and sought out the book in the Fall of 1969. I found it at Doubleday Bookstore in New York City while visiting for the Texas A&M vs. Westpoint football game. The book helped me survive the long, cold, rainy winter of 1969-70, as I was manipulated into making life-changing decisions -- school vs. Vietnam, girls vs. grades, polyester vs. cotton, Santana vs. Led Zeppelin, etc. etc. etc. As Nicholas Urfe rode the roller coaster of his life, so did we.---I'm glad to see that the movie is in video.
I have always wanted to see the movie because I loved the novel, butwas warned away because I'd heard that the movie was a stinker. It is.Fowles wrote the script and I could follow it fine, despite the factthat I read the novel over thirty years ago.The soundtrack is execrable--jarring, jangling, and utterlyinappropriate--breaking any attempt at mystery or mood in the movie. Isuspect that the director must take a lot of the blame as even MichaelCaine is terrible in it and he was already doing excellent work inALFIE a couple of years earlier.The "Mysteries" evoked by the book are not well-translated onto thescreen. I'd love to see someone remake this one.
I saw it around 1969 in Isla Vista, California, the student community adjacent to UCSB and famous for a while for burning down the Bank of America.About a dozen years later, the author REVISED the book, citing that he was quite young when it was originally written and that a lot of stuff deemed mysterious or symbolic in the original was just bad writing. This movie is based on the original version, which may explain a lot!I recently found the DVD for $5 at a big box store, and watched it again with some embarrassment. In those days ('69), we were not yet inoculated against the unorthodox, despite the coverage of "hippies." We had seen many tame films, and something off-the-wall was still a bit of a surprise to a lot of us kids. I recall a friend who claimed he could detect all kinds of clever symbolism in the movie, often involving who was sitting in a chair when speaking and who was standing. Meanwhile, in dorms, people were playing Beatles's LPs backwards to find secret messages about Paul being dead.A side note: The woman playing the French air hostess can still be matched against today's young stars and come out on top in the looks area, IMHO!But it was, after all is said and done, "Alfie, Part II, Alfie Goes To Greece."In retrospect, a film about a young man who is punished for using women as disposable items was quite contrary to the time. Practically every (male) pop group was singing about having to keep "movin'on down the road and leaving it all behind." (Later Carole King lamented in lyrics "doesn't anyone stay in one place anymore?")It was also touching to see a women who was deeply affected from having an abortion. People who run places such as "Rachel's Vineyard" understand this. Today, a similar film character would probably upset some activists on some side of that big debate.So, it's a movie that can be best appreciated by those who were in their 20's AT THAT TIME. Watch it with you kids or grandkids and expect rolling eyes at the subject matter and yawns due to the "slow" pace.
A couple of years ago someone I worked with had a copy of this film andI dubbed a copy for myself. He mentioned the Woody Allen quote aboutthe film which made me laugh, but I guess it also made me a little waryabout watching it. I finally pulled it out last night and popped it myVCR. When I wasn't confused there were certain scenes that grabbed myattention. Oddly enough I have a copy of the novel which I haven't read(I say oddly because there are very few books that enter my sphere thatgo unread, so I'm sure I'll get around to it eventually). As the moviewas playing I'd pick up the novel and think, "Boy this sure is a thickbook. I bet there are all sorts of thoughts and ideas the charactershave in it that aren't finding their way into the film." This isn'tnecessarily a bad thing, and I don't think movies based on literaturehave to be a dedicated recreation of their source material, but thefilm had an overall vague feeling to it. I'm guessing that many peoplewho detest "The Magus" probably don't care for the ending. I know itleft me feeling less than satisfied in relation to all the scenes thatpreceded it. It seemed like what with all that Michael Caineexperienced during the course of the movie that a more profoundconclusion was in order.
For 40 years this film has had to stand as testament to the worst that the industry can concoct, which is constantly reinforced by THAT quotation from Woody Allan. I came to the DVD re-release of `The Magus' like many people, having last read the book quite a few years previously, and with this reputation had fairly low expectations, but in the event viewed the film with interest, and at this distance in time believe there is a case for a reappraisal.The book is probably impossible to film, certainly within the context of a 2 hour feature, but the production was obviously constructed to be a major work, especially when the author, John Fowles himself came on board as screen writer. The greatest obstacle is that the film is almost incomprehensible to those who have not read the book, and those who know the book are disappointed; the atmosphere and subtlety of the book are not carried through into the film. But at best it couldn't, it's like saying Mozart's 40'th loses depth when rendered down into a pop single using synthesizers.However the film contains all the essential elements of the book, there are no savage edits to the written material, even the execution scene is well presented. Take it on face value with an open mind. It's probably the only film treatment that will ever be made of The Magus, so make the most of it - consider it as a collection of parts which comprise the main elements of the book, some fit well, other less so, some are downright embarrassing. It is technically well filmed, and for the most part the scenery and staging fits well well with the book. Perhaps the worst aspect is the ludicrous light jazz background music that fouls up the atmosphere that should be coming through - simply re-editing to remove the music, replacing it with something subtle and unintrusive would help the film enormously.Another problem that was born with the film was the critical barrage that hit it forced all involved in the production to close ranks and vilify their own work for the sake of preserving their professional credibility. Surely after 40 years enough time has passed to look at The Magus in a more benign light
This review is from: The Magus (DVD) An aloof person Nicholas Urfe who could not commit to a relationship has a relationship with a stewardess Anne (Anna Karina) that is looking for something more permanent. Nicholas seizes an opportunity to escape. However he finds himself embroiled in a mystery that may help him find himself. In the process we may come to understand our selves better.As with any film, one can not hope to portray the book exactly. Some movies give the feel or outline. And some movies actually improve on the book. In this case the movie squeaks by with the basic story and feel.Michael Caine did a pretty good Nicholas Urfe as I think the person and the character are quite similar. Candice Bergen did a great Lily and could have been the one in the book. The only person that looked physically out of place and tried but did not quite pull it off was Anthony Quinn as Maurice Conchis.It took years to make it to DVD and if it had not been for the DVD proliferation would never have been made available.The Magus
There is a John Fowles bio-pic included in the extras with this DVD that makes it damn near worth the going price. Still, really, no matter how much you want to see how flawed movies-from-books can be, you're far better off donating the money to the Humanists instead. This is painful.
an excellent fantastic movie shot 40 years ago cast is great. MichaelCaine fits the most. I think Woody Allen is just jealous thinking thatnobody else should see such a private fantastic movie. No computereffects, only puppets. Hey dudes, it's 40 years before today! And it'sa hard thing to comment at least 10 lines. I think this one will be myfirst and last. And maybe none of both. Because it will be erased. Norapproved. Writing 10 lines without spoiling how? See you OK. Bysubmitting this comment you are agreeing to the terms laid out in ourCopyright Statement. Your submission must be your own original work.Your comments will normally be posted on the site within 2-3 businessdays. Comments that do not meet the guidelines will not be posted.Please write in English only. HTML or boards mark-up is not supportedthough paragraph breaks will be inserted if you leave a blank linebetween paragraph.
This review is from: The Magus (DVD) This is not a perfect movie, but neither is it a bad one. At the time it was filmed, the producers didn't have the luxury of pacing it into a limited-run series on HBO/Cinemax/Showtime-------ie, a ten or twenty hour movie which could be spread out over several weekly episodes (much like Masterpiece Theatre did with so many other novels). So what you've got is a very condensed and edited movie which begs to re-done on cable (the only reason that TWIN PEAKS ended so disasterously in the middle of the second season is that it probably should have been filmed as a year-long, "finite" series...but the nature of TV in 1990 was such that no series got produced without a five-year-run in mind).I first saw this when I was nine or ten, on TV (1972?). I didn't understand a word of it, but the images never left me. Three years ago I googled "Michael Caine, Anthony Quinn", and finally got the title. I enjoyed the movie, then ordered the book. At first the book seemed overly verbose, so I tossed it in the "for free" box in the laundry room at my apartment complex. Three days later I fished it right back out, and spent the next three weeks reading 25-50 pages per night.
As other commentators I didn't quite know whether to expect the worstmovieever or an undiscovered pearl. Well, it is neither. For lovers of thenovel,I feel the film is quite adequate and interesting. Hard to imagine how thefilm impressions someone who hasn't read the book. In my mind this couldhave been an excellent film, but for two aspects: the score is awful(especially in the mountain climbing sequence with Anne); the final"trial"is totally botched, filmed as a dream-sequence instead of reality, as itshould be, and featuring a ridiculous robot. I wish I could do are-make.
Fowles' first novel became the darling of the emerging countercultureof the 60s. It fit a handy niche of layered narratives, connected inways that emulated the emergence of "secret" cosmologies. By itself, itcreated a little stir because of the way it was folded by a certainkabbalistic technique while including reference to that technique. The history of this makes it essential viewing. Its Fowles' firstnovel, partially autobiographical, taking over a decade to write. Itsgrand, risky, sloppy. It is perfect in its way, being as confusing inhow it is written as the narrator within is. Its a happy accident thatits deficiencies increase the effect.The screenplay is quite a bit more incompetent and at the same timeleaving out most of the ambiguities in the story. So the film is adisaster. Fowles would later straighten up the narrative in the noveland issue what in the film world would be a "director's cut" whichtries to keep the ambiguities in the story but reduce them in thenarration. Its far less effective than the original.So why should you see this? Because it is a historical document thatchanged things significantly. Its based on two sources: one was a thenlittle-known set of Kabbalistic lessons on Tarot ambiguities. The otheris a piece of literary theory from the thirties: "Seven Types ofAmbiguity." (Don't search it out: it is far less interesting than thetitle implies.)Fowles simply conflated his own life (and remorse over handling aromance) into these two notions, deliberately trying to capture theseven types Â which incidentally inform my study of narrative folding.In September of 1966 while in Spain for the filming of "How I Won theWar," John Lennon, who hardly read anything, read this (twice, onceheavily rugged) and it changed his life, the direction of The Beatlesand hence enfranchised a new form of narrative. (He called and latervisited Fowles while this script was in development. There is noartifact of that in the script.) Its not Joyce, but it is the child of what he envisioned, dumbed down,but still raising the bar for narrative structure and affecting Â Iassert Â nearly everything.Ted's Evaluation -- 3 of 3: Worth watching.
This review is from: The Magus (DVD) There are certain works of art that are enormously flawed, because their creators take ridiculous risks that don't always succeed, glorious leaps that sometimes end with inglorious splats on a very hard floor. Yet at the same time, that willingness to fail on such a large scale also leads to something dazzling & compelling.And so it is with "The Magus."Let's agree that the film is so much less than the book -- how could it be otherwise? So let's simply look as the film as a film. It's a sun-drenched puzzle with a few crucial pieces missing, and others that never quite fit together. Granted, that's not entirely a bad thing, as the god-game of the trickster Conchis is to constantly unmoor Nicholas Urfe's sense of mundane reality & then expand it. Urfe is left confused, bewildered, angry, but eager to learn more -- and so are we, although we also want more when the film ends. Again, not entirely a bad thing.The film has to walk a narrow line, and it stumbles on occasion. If it gives too much information, lays out things too explicitly, it succumbs to rigidity & mere didacticism. But if it lets things get too loose & fluid, then it can't do any better than disconnected glimpses that don't cohere on a deeper level. The film never quite reaches the perfect balance between the two. To be honest, I don't know that it ever could.So is it worth watching?I think so ... with a couple of caveats. It's definitely a film of the 1960s, which may be the deciding factor for some prospective viewers in itself. For those who want to understand how the 1960s felt, how some people viewed & experienced the world, it's a kaleidoscopic window on a disorienting landscape. For those who enjoy Big Questions & surreal situations, you'll certainly get your fill ... if not complete satisfaction. For those who want specific answers, though, or a stronger narrative hand at the wheel, it's likely to be disappointing -- and with just cause for complaint. And those who loved the novel will need to lower their expectations considerably!Michael Caine has said that nobody on the set understood what the film was about, which is why it failed. Even so, he gives a wonderfully befuddled performance as a very smart (but emotionally shallow) man, one who learns that he isn't quite as smart as he thought. Anthony Quinn is bursting with energy, laughter, menace, and hidden wells of sorrow -- he's a presence that overflows from the screen. And Candice Bergen, while in an underwritten role, is the right choice for an impossibly beautiful figure of desire & mystery.Not for everyone, obviously -- and even those who like it will have some reservations. But if you're in the mood to try something different, this is a great place to take a chance!
This is a kind of 60s story - of a surreal psycho-journey that is supposed to lead to profound truths - that appears formulaic now. Caine is kind of a lost soul, a teacher blundering through life who loves to bed new girls. He meets an equally troubled stewardess, they begin an affair, but somehow he holds back from the love that she knows they might have. Caine then meets a strange man on Crete, Quinn (who isn't all that bad), who enmeshes him in a series of games, enticing him with promises of an affair with a gorgeously young Candace Bergen, and playing with his mind; even the stewardess is somehow involved. By the end, Caine knows himself better, is less selfish, etc., though may have lost the stewardess.Viewed from today, this has the air of a cult film, loved by some die hard fans as a deep psychological journey, but seen by everyone else as flat and clichÃ©e-ridden, with stilted dialogue and out-dated Jungian themes in the blatantly crude symbolism. Alas, I fall into the latter category, and not for want of trying. I read the novel, which I found only marginally better in spite of enthusiastic recommendations by art lovers, and found it preposterous and over-done, however intelligent the games appear. The film strips away any subtlety and simply doesn't work as a story.Not recommended.
John Fowles's novel is a long, dense, complex work, and trying tocompress the story into a two-hour film seems foolhardy, at best.Having read the book six months ago, I was expecting something reallybad, especially considering the earlier reviews I've read here.I found the movie fascinating. It's very late 60s (especially themusical score, which is quaint, to put it politely), and the ending isunsatisfying, whether or not you've read the book. However, I canoverlook these flaws because the movie does, incredibly, succeed inconjuring up some of the mystery and magic of the book --- the forcefulcharacter of Conchis, the tempting sexuality of "Julie", the jarringshocks when the story seems to suddenly change direction.I can't think of two actors better suited to play the roles of Urfe andConchis than Michael Caine and Anthony Quinn. Candice Bergen is a goodchoice as "Julie".It's beautifully filmed, which helps to reinforce the atmosphere.Anyone who watches this movie expecting everything to be explained atthe end is bound to come away frustrated. Many people felt the same wayabout the book, but I started it knowing that it probably wouldn't allmake sense, so I was prepared when it ended somewhat ambiguously. Thevery end of the movie does seem like a cop-out (after all, there's agood 150 pages of plot that are dropped from the novel) but perhapsit's as good as you can expect from a theatrical feature.Now that the film is available on DVD, beautifully remastered with anexcellent anamorphic picture and sound, I'd recommend it to anyone whoenjoys surrealism and doesn't mind a certain amount of ambiguity. Thisfilm does give you an idea of what the book might be about (somethingI'm still pondering). Nice to have it on DVD.
This movie received a critical mauling. Even the celebrities hated it,oneof them (possibly Woody Allen) saying that if he had to live his lifeagainhe would do everything the same except he wouldn't go to see TheMagus!However, I don't think it is that bad. It certainly isn't particularlygood, but it carries a certain fascination in the way that it unpeels amulti-layered plot in a gleefully playful way. The main shortcoming isthatsome plot points are dealt with unclearly, making it a bit tricky tofigureout exactly what is going on. The ending in particular seems to be a bitconfusing. However, on the plus side, there are some powerful visuals.Thereare also strong leading performances from Michael Caine and Anthony Quinn,as well as a memorable turn from Anna Karina as one of Caine's ex-lovers.Candice Bergen gives a terrible performance, but perhaps the character sheis given to work with was unplayable anyway.Don't listen to the critics. See this one for yourself and judge it onyourown terms.