The Magus (film)
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Guy Green|
|Produced by||Jud Kinberg|
|Written by||John Fowles|
|Based on||The Magus|
by John Fowles
|Distributed by||20th Century Fox|
|Box office||$1 million (US/ Canada rental)|
The Magus is a 1968 British mystery film directed by Guy Green. The screenplay was written by John Fowles, based on his novel of the same name. It starred Michael Caine, Anthony Quinn, Candice Bergen and Anna Karina.
Nicholas Urfe is a young Englishman who has taken a teaching position on the Greek island of Phraxos following the previous instructor's suicide. For Nicholas it is a chance for different surroundings, and it is also an attempt to escape his relationship with his emotionally unstable lover, Anne.
At first Nicholas' life on Phraxos is uneventful but peaceful. He soon becomes intrigued with a reclusive man named Maurice Conchis, who owns an estate on the opposite side of the island and has a beautiful young woman named Lily as a companion. Immediately upon being introduced to the couple, Nicholas' life begins to unravel. He tries to find out who the mysterious Conchis really is.
Is he a psychiatrist? A film producer? A Nazi sympathiser? Or is he a magician who controls the lives and destinies of those around him? Nicholas quickly begins to lose his grip on reality as he sinks further and further into Conchis's game.
During visits to Conchis's estate, Nicholas has a series of experiences which gradually become more unexpected and bizarre. Many are related to (or are re-enactments of) past events from Conchis's life. Ultimately, these events begin happening off the estate as well, at unexpected times and places, raising questions as to how much power and control Conchis can actually exercise over others' lives.
The story climaxes with a "trial" directed by Conchis with Nicholas (and many others) participating.
The final scene (which may be interpreted almost as a coda) has to do with Nicholas' relationship with Anne and whether or not it continues.
- Michael Caine as Nicholas Urfe
- Anthony Quinn as Maurice Conchis
- Candice Bergen as Lily
- Anna Karina as Anne
- Paul Stassino as Meli
- Julian Glover as Anton
- Takis Emmanuel as Kapetan
- George Pastell as Andreas
- Danièle Noël as Soula
The film's writer John Fowles has a minor role as a boat captain.
The film was a critical disaster. Fowles was extremely disappointed with it, and laid most of the blame on director Guy Green, despite having written the screenplay himself. Michael Caine himself has said that it was one of the worst films he had been involved in along with The Swarm and Ashanti, because no one knew what it was all about. Candice Bergen said in an interview about the film, "I didn't know what to do and nobody told me. I couldn't put together the semblance of a performance." When Woody Allen was asked whether he would make changes in his life if he had the opportunity to do it all over again, he jokingly replied he'd do "everything exactly the same, with the exception of watching The Magus."
According to Fox records the film required $7,000,000 in rentals to break even and by 11 December 1970 had made $2,450,000 so made a loss to the studio.
The film was released to DVD by 20th Century Fox on 16 October 2006, marking the first time that it has ever been available on home video in the U.S.
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- "Big Rental Films of 1969", Variety, 7 January 1970 p 15
- John Fowles, The French Lieutenant's Diary, Granta #86, 2004, ISBN 0-903141-69-8
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- Silverman, Stephen M (1988). The Fox that got away : the last days of the Zanuck dynasty at Twentieth Century-Fox. L. Stuart. p. 327.