The Magus 1968

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Woody Allen once said that if he could life his life again, the one change he would make is not seeing the 1968 film of The Magus. The dense and deliberately confusing nature of John Fowles novel, which even he took two attempts at getting right, was inevitably going to lead to a few dissatisfied customers, but Guy Green’s glossy 1968 film, adapted by Fowles himself, actually looks better now than it did then. Michael Caine is Nicolas Urfe, a teacher on a Greek island who falls under the spell of Lily (Candice Bergen), but also finds himself manipulated by Conchis (Anthony Quinn) who styles himself as some kind of magus or magician. The Magus is a rare existential thriller, and an ideal introduction to the complex world of literary metaphysics.

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