Kirk Douglas shines brightly in Illusion


    Illusion is one of the most entertaining, moving, fascinating and life-affirming spiritual films in many years. I hope and trust that the film will become an instant classic that will be loved for as long as films have a life somewhere in people’s hearts. In the film, Kirk Douglas gives the most touching and indelible performance of his career, and co-star/director Michael Goorjian emerges as one of the most sensitive and visionary directors of his generation.

    In Illusion, legendary film director Donald Baines (Douglas) is shown three visions of the life of the son he never knew. As he lies dying alone in his private screening room, watching the films he has devoted his life to creating, he is given one last chance to affect his son’s life. Having isolated himself from family and friends, he now regrets many personal decisions. The rejection of his illegitimate child, Christopher, brings him the most pain, having seen him only once – 30 years ago.

    Late one night, Donald is awakened by the ghostly image of Stan, a favorite editor who has been dead more than 35 years. Suddenly Donald finds his deathbed transported to an old movie house. Stan informs Donald that he has come to help and that he will show him three films – three visions – each vision representing a different period of Christopher’s life.

    The first vision brings Donald into the teenage life of Christopher who is in the throes of his first blush with love. A rebel and a romantic, Christopher proclaims his love for a girl he has only seen from afar and chances it all for an opportunity to spend some time with her. A nagging voice, which sounds like the father he never knew, echoes in his head…telling him he is not worthy.

    A wild romp marks the second vision of the twentysomething life of Christopher as he tries to escape an artistic maelstrom and finds himself face-to-face with the love he had for a brief moment and lost from the first vision. His life takes a brutal twist, as he finds and – yet again – is torn from his love.

    The last vision Donald sees is the return of Christopher now as a mature man, wearied from the difficult curveballs life has thrown him. Again looking for love, this is his last and perhaps only chance to rid himself of what he imagines to be his father’s haunting disapproval.

    Ultimately, Donald Baines is given an opportunity to make a difference…but after such a long time, can he take the leap or was it all just an illusion?

    Illusion grabs you by the heart in the very first frame and never lets go. Michael Goorjian’s direction of the film is so sensitive, visually arresting and well-paced that I felt more like a participant in the film than a viewer.

    Someone once said to me that our most crucial goal in raising our children is to make certain that they love themselves. If they love us in the bargain, that’s a bonus for which we all hope, but it is always secondary to our children’s own self-esteem. The several stories within the film – and the progression of Goorjian’s character – are heartbreaking in their illumination of the deep and lifelong effect that a negligent and disparaging parent can have on the psyche of a child. Douglas’ act of rejecting his son at such an early age sets in place a sense of self-loathing that literally stops his son from ever achieving any of his heart’s desires.

    As Douglas watches the Akashic records of his son play out in front of him on the big screen, he becomes more and more anguished and aware of the devastating effect he has had on this boy he never knew. Douglas is absolutely amazing in his performance, both in its nuance and also in its bravery. He performed in this film well after his stroke had severely altered his speech patterns, but obviously his heart and soul are still afire! Goorjian’s direction of Douglas and all the other actors, including himself, is also utterly brilliant. One can only hope that Academy voters will be reminded of this film at the end of 2006. Douglas should not only be nominated for an Academy Award, but for a Lifetime Achievement Award – and both the film and Goorjian’s direction deserve major consideration, as well.

    I can already sense that Illusion will be one of my 5 Favorite films of 2006. For more information on where Illusion is playing near you, please go to (the source of the synopsis of the film in this column.) Please go see it soon and often and bring all of your friends and family. Films like this and directors like Michael Goorjian need and deserve our full-hearted support so that more movies like Illusion can be made in the future.

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    Stephen Simon
    Stephen Simon is the author of the new book Bringing Back The Old Hollywood. For more information, visit He also co-founded, produced such films as Somewhere in Time and What Dreams May Come, and both produced and directed Indigo and Conversations with God.


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