Simon Magus

Simon Magus


Reviewed by: Trinity

The arrival of a railroad may bring benefits but it can just as surely kill a community. For one small town in 19th century Silesia, already divided by religious mistrust, the loss of trade from the new railroad is made worse by a failing harvest. Wild-eyed Simon, a dishevelled orphan who lives in a ramshackle hut and performs menial tasks for the occasional loaf of bread or fish, is blamed for the misfortunes that beset the town. He also believes he receives instructions from the devil.

Scholarly Dovid, who is trying to win the heart of the beautiful widow Leah, comes up with a plan to save the dwindling Jewish population but needs the help of the eccentric Squire, a poet and local landowner. However, he isn't the only one looking for a piece of the railroad, and Maximillian Hase, a wealthy and elegant Gentile tries to cut in by fair means or foul. Derided by both Jews and Gentiles, Simon finds himself a confused pawn in a bigger game.

Simon Magus is another example of a film which looks good, sounds good, has a great cast, and is utterly boring. The pace is so slow that it's almost impossible to feel any sense of empathy for any of the characters. Noah Taylor (as Simon) is quite believable and Rutger Hauer (as the Squire) adds a little grandeur. But Dovid comes across as boring, the villains aren't particularly villainous or humane and even Simon is so pathetic that we don't even feel the need to pity him. All a shame as the squalid, damp surroundings of the town are well captured.

Reviewed on: 19 Jan 2001
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A new railroad spells trouble for a small town.
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Director: Ben Hopkins

Writer: Ben Hopkins

Starring: Noah Taylor, Stuart Townsend, Sean McGinley, Embeth Davidtz, Amanda Ryan, Rutger Hauer, Ian Holm, Terence Rigby, Toby Jones, Jim Dunk, Ursula Jones

Year: 1999

Runtime: 101 minutes

BBFC: PG - Parental Guidance

Country: UK


EIFF 1999

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