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10 Magician Movies that Will Make You Wonder How the Hell They Did That

10 Magician Movies that Will Make You Wonder How the Hell They Did That: Summit Entertainment

Summit Entertainment

The problem with Now You See Me 2 — besides the fact that it really should’ve been called Now You Don’t, because come on — is that it’s not always possible to tell what is “real” magic on-screen, and what’s special effects trickery. It’s a shame, because as Gob Bluth would be the first to tell you, stage magic and illusions are a fascinating, ridiculous topic that deserves more respect than being used as a Macguffin in even the most entertaining of caper movies.

With that in mind, then, here are ten movies that explore the world in which your eyes may deceive you, and nothing can be trusted. There’s nothing up my sleeve except some entertaining, diverting and, yes magical ways to spend a few hours.


THE MAGICIAN (1959)
Ingmar Bergman’s 1950s drama has, fittingly, some tricks up its sleeve when it comes to telling its story about suspicious townsfolk wanting to discover the truth about a traveling magician: not only is it inspired by British writer G.K. Chesterton, but the magician in question is a young Max Von Sydow. Available on Hulu


F FOR FAKE (1973)
Welles’ last movie isn’t really about magic — except that it kind of is. After all, throughout the story of an art forger, there’s a thread of illusions and trickery, with Welles himself employed all manner of sleight of hand throughout the entire thing. Really, the whole thing is a trick, the audience are the marks, and you’ll want to thank Welles for it nonetheless. Available on Hulu


BREAKING THE MAGICIAN’S CODE: SEASON 1 (1997)
Haven’t you always wondered how all of those tricks were done? Of course you have, and this four-part series (hosted by “The Masked Magician,” because why not) spills some of the beans, even if plenty of them are left in the can at the end of the whole thing. Spoiler: they’re not all actually done with mirrors after all. Sorry. Available on Netflix


THE PRESTIGE (2006)
Rarely has stage magic seemed so pretentious and beautiful as in Christopher Nolan’s retro drama starring Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale as a pair of competing magicians whose relationship eventually leads to tragedy… or does it? Like a dry-run for Inception, this movie takes the twin subjects of class warfare and stage magic and turns them into something appropriately mind-bending. Available on Amazon Prime


MAKE BELIEVE (2010)
If you, like Michael Jackson, believe that the children are the future, then this documentary about six young magicians competing for the title of Teen World Champion might be exactly what you’re hoping to see… especially if you find yourself easily charmed by true life stories of awkward underdogs finding their voices when given the chance. Available on Netflix


DECEPTIVE PRACTICE: THE MYSTERIES AND MENTORS OF RICKY JAY (2012)
Who is Ricky Jay? Well, only the man who’s been described by The New Yorker as “perhaps the most gifted sleight of hand artist arrive” (although you might recognize him from acting roles in big budget movies, including The Prestige and, more surprisingly, Boogie Nights). Find out what makes him tick in the lifting of the veil… although, as you might expect, things aren’t exactly what they seem. Available on Netflix


MAGIC CAMP (2013)
Just imagine if Hogwarts was a real place — and that an entire generation of kids can visit there to search for a way to find the magic they’re convinced is real, even if it’s just in the form of stage trickery. That’s the story of Judd Ehrlich’s weirdly touching, at times hilarious, documentary. Available on Hulu


AN HONEST LIAR (2014)
For decades, James Randi made a career of exposing fakes and frauds who pretended to be spiritualists and magicians, but it turned out that there was even more to be exposed than anyone believed — including the fact that Randi’s partner of a quarter century wasn’t exactly who anyone thought he was. This movie tries to explore the complicated truths behind the fiction. Available on Netflix


OUR MAGIC (2014)
Almost the anti-Breaking the Magician’s Code, Our Magic is a movie explaining magicians and the world of magic, made by magicians who live there each and every day. Look beyond the stereotypes of what a magician “should” be and find yourself surprised by how much you’re into what they are. Available on Amazon Prime


HOUDINI (2014)
Of course, when it comes to showmen who specialize in misdirection, it all comes back to Harry H, who made this stuff fashionable way back when. Adrien Brody plays the man himself in this TV mini-series memoir written by Nicholas Meyer, AKA the man responsible for killing Spock in Star Trek II all those many years ago. Sadly, there are no Genesis devices this time around, just the amazing real story of a man whose life defied belief just as much as his stagecraft did. Available on Netflix


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