The Illusionist is a 2006 English-language period drama film written and directed by Neil Burger and starring Edward Norton, Jessica Biel, and Paul Giamatti. It is based loosely on Steven Millhauser's short story, Eisenheim the Illusionist. The Illusionist tells the story of Eisenheim, a magician in turn-of-the-20th-century Vienna who uses his abilities to secure the love of a woman far above his social standing. The film premiered at the 2006 Sundance Film Festival and opened the 2006 Seattle International Film Festival; it was distributed in limited release to theaters on August 18, 2006, and expanded nationwide on September 1. The film, which contains both fictional and historical characters, begins in medias res as Chief Inspector Walter Uhl (Paul Giamatti) moves to arrest Eisenheim (Edward Norton) during what appears to be necromancy passed off as a magic show. He then begins to recount the story of Eisenheim for Crown Prince Leopold (Rufus Sewell). Eisenheim was born the son of a cabinetmaker in Vienna, Austria-Hungary. One day as a teenager, Eisenheim (played as a young man by Aaron Johnson) meets a traveling magician along a road who performs several tricks for him.
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