David Copperfield is a name synonymous with the art of illusion. Perhaps the most famous magician since Houdini himself, Copperfield has literally made this art his life's passion. At one point in his career, he was performing nearly 500 shows a year…a true testament to his dedication. Chances are, you've seen some of his work: perhaps his most impressive and well-known illusion is making the Statue of Liberty disappear, a stunt he performed in front of a live audience in 1983. Other tricks he's pulled off include walking through the Great Wall of China, making an airplane vanish, and escaping from Alcatraz.
Sure, we know that these are just illusions…or are they?
Copperfield's illusions were practically pop culture staples of the 80s and early 90s, airing individually as TV specials during that period. 1994 marked the release of David Copperfield: 15 Years of Magic, a decent cross-section of his most popular illusions and performances, several of which have been previously mentioned. Combining this with footage from his highly successful Broadway performance, "Dreams and Nightmares", we are presented with the bulk of Illusion, a new DVD release from Kultur International Films.
Although the overall production shows its age, it's a well-documented look at the man behind the magic. Hosted by Copperfield and his former fiancée, Claudia Schiffer (the two ended their 5-year engagement in 1999), Illusion holds a nice assortment of performances from the height of his career. Besides for several of the previously-mentioned tricks, other illusion highlights include "Brazilian Water Levitation", "Imploding", "Flying", "Mystery on the Orient Express", and much more. Complex and ambitious, these illusions are performed on a much larger scale than pulling a rabbit out of a hat. In short, they really must be seen to be believed…or not believed, for that matter.
Of course, even the most amazing footage doesn't mean this is a perfect production. While the success and popularity of Copperfield may warrant a certain degree of self-confidence, he goes a little overboard in the vanity department. Ever the showman, he milks these spectacles for all they're worth: from candle-lit sets to overly dramatic dialogue, it can be a bit much in one sitting. Illusion is a vanity project through and through…but as long as you can get past that, it's quite an enjoyable retrospective. The DVD is no slouch, either: with a decent technical presentation and a nice mix of bonus features, this looks to be one disc to keep your eye on.
Plain and simple: if you like David Copperfield's performances, you'll really love Illusion. Although I'm not a serious fanatic of his work, I still found plenty of things to enjoy on this release. There may not be much material here that die-hard fans haven't seen already, but the Audio Commentary and other extras may be of great interest. Sure, Illusion may seem like a shameless sermon for the First Church of Copperfield, but it's a nostalgic and entertaining show overall. With a solid overall presentation and a very reasonable MSRP, consider this disc Recommended.
Randy Miller III is a bald-headed art instructor based in Harrisburg, PA. He also does freelance graphic design projects and works in an art gallery. When he's not doing that, he enjoys slacking off, general debauchery, and writing things in third person.