Saturday, November 10, 2007

Who hid the elephant?

A few days ago I said that a good magician must be a good actor. Today I discover there is a film in production about a great magician.

Yet many historians do not rate Harry Houdini very highly for magical technique, though they concede his skill as an escape artist. They seem to have a mental image of the ideal magician as someone who must be tall, elegant, debonair, eloquent.

Eric Weiss was not like that at all. He was short and bowlegged and awkward and he spoke with a jarring accent. Yet I rate him the very best.

Because he really pushed the boundaries of what the human body could do and what the human mind could comprehend. His illusions often involved genuine danger. His escapes included real police shackles and real prison cells.

And unlike many who exploited the bereaved and vulnerable, he bravely spoke out against the cheats and fraudsters who claimed supernatural powers. He knew that they were all just evil vultures. They still are.

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