GenreDrama, Fantasy, Mystery Music directorJohn John Dankworth CountryUnited Kingdom
Release date10 December 1968 (1968-12-10) Based onThe Magus
by John Fowles WriterJohn Fowles (novel), John Fowles (screenplay) CastMichael Caine (Nicholas Urfe), Anthony Quinn (Maurice Conchis), Candice Bergen (Lily), Anna Karina (Anne) Similar moviesJurassic World, Mission: Impossible II, The Incredibles, Jurassic Park, Bora Bora, The Expendables
Twin spirits the magus
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 sympathizer? 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' 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."
Despite the film's failure, it was nominated for a BAFTA Award for Best Cinematography (Billy Williams) and retained a cult following.
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.