Wednesday, January 24, 2007


The Illusionist has been nominated in the category of “Achievement in Cinematography” (Director of Photography - Dick Pope) in the upcoming 79th annual Academy Awards®.
The nominations were announced yesterday by in a nomination list released by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, organizers of the annual Academy Awards®. This is the first Academy Award®. nomination for Dick Pope.
Results of the nomination will be announced in the awards ceremony to be held on Monday, 25 February, 5pt/8et.

About The Illusionist:
A supernatural mystery set at the turn of 19th century Vienna, The Illusionist is a potent combination of romance, politics and magic. The film stars Academy Award® nominees Edward Norton (Fight Club, American History X) and Paul Giamatti (Cinderella Man, Sideways) as two men pitted against each other in a battle of wits.
The Illusionist is written and directed by Neil Burger, and features top-notch production values, including a haunting score by master contemporary composer Philip Glass. Screenplay is based on the short story, “Eisenheim the Illusionist” in Steven Millhauser’s “Barnum Museum”.

About the cinematography:
“All of Prague’s atmosphere physically represented the mental look Burger was after: “I wanted the film to have an almost ‘hand-cranked’ feel to it, not that we were actually going to use a hand-cranked camera…although for a time I did consider it. I wanted that look, not to make it seem old, but rather to take it out of time, beyond the world of rationality and into the realm of mystery and dream. Everything you see is real, recognizable, but somehow heightened. I wanted it to have a kind of sinister beauty—lovely on the surface, but with a disturbing, unnerving undertone.
“My other main reference for the look of the film,” continues Burger, “is an early color photography process called autochrome. It was invented by the Lumiere brothers, who, in the late 19th Century, were instrumental in creating all sorts of early cinematic effects. And they were also magicians! Autochromes have a very different kind of color and contrast palette. Some people think they’re hand-tinted, but they’re not. They are indeed photographic color, but what I like is that they have the emotional impact of black and white. I showed these references to [director of photography] Dick Pope and then together we translated it into the particular look for this story.”
Autochrome photography flourished from 1903 to the 1930’s and is unique in that each autochrome is a singular transparency image—there is no negative. Each image is captured on a specially-prepared glass plate that has been coated with tiny, colored starch grains (of red, green and blue), which is then covered in a layer of carbon black, filling in the spaces between the grains. Finally, a silver gelatine emulsion is applied over the color screen. When the plate is exposed, the base side is turned towards the subject being photographed, and the color screen acts as a filter over the emulsion. The developed plate renders a positive image with delicate color qualities. “
- excerpt from an interview with Director Neil Burger

The Illusionist is reviewed here on

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