Sunday, February 06, 2005

Sunday DVD Review:

David Copperfield has always been a mixed bag. The posing, the tight pants, the big hair--it seemed forced to me even as a teenager. And yet, he's still unarguably the man who has had the most successful magic career in my lifetime.

This DVD highlights some of his high points, most of which are the big, flashy illusions that are generally the low points of his specials in my mind.

A couple of my favorite bits--floating rose, a really sharp aces routine--are on here. Most of my favorite bits are not. Really, I think he should just package some of the individual specials and sell the whole shebang. The China special was fantastic--that has to have been his best--but nothing from it is here, except the "walking through the wall" bit.

So the special was just okay if you've seen all this stuff on TV before.

The part that I enjoyed--enjoyed surprisingly more than I thought I would--was Copperfield's commentary. Now, I knew he wasn't going to be giving away any secrets, so I didn't really expect the commentary to be much more than, "See, now I'm in the box. Now, I'm not in the box. Pretty cool, huh?"

Instead, he actually did give away some secrets. Not magic secrets, but some of the secrets of putting magic on TV. He goes into some detail about how certain effects are adapted for the media of film and television, and why they're different.

One of my favorite insights was regarding the vanishing Orient Express train car. I always thought the cloth they used to cover the train car looked really cool. It was a velvety brown--really nice looking. Well, come to find out, he thought it looked cool, too, but its appearance was sheer luck. The "texture" of the fabric came from how dirty the tarp got after five or six rehearsals in the zepplin hanger where they did the filming.

So if you haven't seen much Copperfield, or if you're interested in the staging and performance of magic, you may want to check this out. Otherwise, there's nothing here for you.

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