Feb 24 2014
I have a great fondness for the term “dénouement”. It’s French, as the little accenty thing probably gives away. It refers to the final act of a play or film in which all the strands are brought together, and a satisfying conclusion is reached.
In the realm of magic, a dénouement is the the final reveal – aka “the prestige”. A startling dénouement makes a good trick astonishing.
I think the best films are the ones with a good twist – At the end of “Die Hard”, you realise Bruce Willis is a ghost; at the end of “American Beauty” you realise Kevin Spacey doesn’t really have a limp, and at the end of Justin Bieber’s film, “Believe” you realise you are a pre-pubescent girl. Or you’ve gone to the wrong screen.
Good magic is also twisty. The best tricks twist like a worm in pain. I think “Strangers Gallery” is a good twisty trick – you’ll find it on my videos page. (I have since ditched this from my repertoire – you can’t perform a twisty trick that people have already seen! Don’t worry, it’s been replaced with something even better!)
Sometimes I get asked if I saw women in half. The answer is “no” for three reason. Firstly, I don’t know how to. Secondly, it hardly fits in with my close up, at tables, magical style. Finally, it doesn’t have a good dénouement. She gets sawn in half, you put her back together. No one is harmed, surprised or astonished.
Unless, you’re Penn and/or Teller. These guys are my heroes. Have a look at this video of them in action. A classic trick with a dénouement you won’t expect.
It’s still a bit bulky for me to drag from table to table though.