Magical Realism - A Practical Example

There is a movie out that does a fantastic job of using Magical Realism to heighten the story. It’s called Now You See Me, so spoiler alert. But not major spoilers, just overarching story ones. It’s been out for three years, guys.

This movie does this great job with giving you an everyday world. Yes, there’s magic, but it’s street magic, performance magic, absolutely done with smoke and mirrors magic. They do some neat stuff, and use movie magic to enhance the street magic, but it’s still explainable. And that’s okay. We get deeper into the realm of magicians, the shady side of things that start slipping the divide between performance magic and real magic, and suddenly left is right and up is down and what is this mysterious guild all about?

The ending, while a great twist, did not have enough magic in it to make this true magical realism. We’re left with the promise of real magic, but no delivery. With Magical Realism people bathe in magic at the end, magic strides up with a unicorn horn and a belt gilded with dragon’s scales. To be honest, that was what I was hoping for from the set up and delivery of the plot. What ended up happening was great, and I loved that too, but I wanted more. There was a promise of more.

The second movie came out, and I was disappointed because the ‘more’ never came to be. It was performance magic, and movie magic, and that was it. Now, I did enjoy the movie and there are tricks and twists in both movies that make it worth owning them. I just felt like they did such a great job of magical realism, right up until they didn’t.

What I loved about the first movie was how inspiring it was. Despite the fact that it took turns I didn’t expect and ended up not quite what I wanted, it was a springboard of things I did want, leading to a place where my mind decided things should go. It was an example of magical realism in a real world context, and I liked how that played out. Both movies are clever and well executed, with scenes that make you wonder how magicians do it even as they give you glimpses of exactly what they do. It is the magnificence of possibility and the grace of wonder. It is what the best stories are; the inciting incident that sets off an avalanche in your mind.

With a set of tools like that, what couldn’t you do?