“The Magus” Review ✦✦✦✧✧

30 April, 2017

Year of Release: 1968
Guy Green
John Fowles
Director of Photography: 
Billy Williams
Michael Caine, Anthony Quinn, Anna Karina

Synopsis: A British man seeking escape from an unstable relationship moves to a remote island to fill a vacant teaching position but he soon discovers that life isn’t simpler away from home after being lured into a strange game by a trickster with an evasive assistant.

The Magus Review:

A sun-soaked snapshot of an experimental era, “The Magus” is a film of baffling logic in which common sense and coherence are rendered useless through a puzzling game of trickery and deceit. Cashing in on Michael Caine’s “Alfie” charm as he pursues both Anna Karina and Candice Bergen with equal intent, the film uses sex as the basis for manipulation, throwing viewers off the scent yet never fully alluding to a definitive set of answers as Guy Green dips his toe into new waters and swiftly gets dragged away by the tide.

Predating “The Wicker Man” yet sharing remarkable thematic similarities with the 1973 classic, “The Magus” rejoices in Caine’s ignorance as he’s led into a game by a psychic whose ghostly collaborators assist in fashioning an unnatural set of circumstances. Flimflamming his way through politeness, Anthony Quinn becomes the embodiment of deception as motives merge into mild amusements while his twisted performance plays out at the expense of the martyr in his gratuitous enactment.

Written like punishment but delivered like pantomime, the film is a spinning barrel of ideas with far too many loose connections for Green to fashion into a lucid narrative. As scatterbrain edits convey a strange, elliptical environment where reality and mirage collide, “The Magus” finds itself lost in translation as John Fowles’ cryptic novel struggles to make the leap onto screen with its endless riddles and jumbled meanings leaving viewers mostly scratching their heads in bewilderment.


Review Date
The Magus