Siegfried & Roy: The Magic Box

Posted by Miss Ess, September 5, 2007 05:50pm | Post a Comment
Thanks to a recommendation by our Brad, I had a truly bizarre experience the other night. 

I watched Siegfried & Roy: The Magic Box, an Imax movie that was even shown in 3-D in theaters!  The DVD had the option to watch in 3-D, but alas, I had no glasses.

The movie is a documentary style piece, with small boys/teenagers in Lederhosen acting the parts of younger Siegfried and Roy growing up in war-torn Germany.  Apparently Siegfried and Roy's dads were both in the German Army in World War II....

While both men came back from the war totally changed and broken, Siegfried's dad is portrayed as only being able to stare endlessly into the fire.  After a visit to a magic shop where a witchy woman tempts and toys with Siegfried over her special Magic Box, Siegfried is fully bitten by the magic bug and starts performing his tricks in an attempt to get his father to see the "wonder" in the world again. 

Roy spent his time obsessed with his childhood dog, who saved him from drowning in a swamp Lassie-style, when she runs off to get a farmworker who pulls Roy to safety.  Apparently this is how Roy developed his "bond" with animals.

The sets of the film are empty and airbrushed and probably are more interesting/exciting in the Imax format, or even the 3-D format I suppose.  My poor mid-sized TV didn't stand a chance and delivering the full "magic" of the film.

Did I mention the film is narrated by Sir Anthony Hopkins?  As if to try to add a touch of class to an inarguably cheesy as all hell movie, he recites The Tyger by William Blake as images of a glittering tiger face dissolve on the screen.  Have I mentioned how ridiculously over the top the movie is?  Yeah, I know, it's Siegfried and Roy, so I was expecting it and all, but JESUS. 

Their show is all smoke machines and spectacle-- giant codpieces, sweeping capes and 6 packed shirtless male assistants, ballet-like grand gestures and swinging over the crowd on wires.  I guess, in a word, it's VEGAS.  I've never been to Las Vegas, but this was everything I'd expect from a place so built on fakery.  In fact, Roy is constantly talking about how nature is where he feels truly at home and about the natural connections between humans and nature, but everything around him, from the set of the stage to their Disneyland-like palatial gardens and home, right to his and Siegfried's obviously surgically altered faces, is so FAKE.  The epitome of FAKE.  I mean, magic itself is based on fakery, and yeah it's fun to wonder "How'd they do that?"  But I just wonder who they really think they are fooling. 

They remind me, more than anything else, of Michael Jackson.  Siegfried and Roy are totally focused on "wonder" and "dreams" and "fantasies".  They seem so intent on creating a world around themselves where one never has to grow up and face the hardships of life.  Growing up gay in a very recently post Nazi Germany would do that to you I guess.  I guess by creating the act they want us to have a break from reality for a while.  But all I could think about was the animals and if they were having a good time too.

Seems like for Siegfried and Roy, the animals are loved like a painting or an object of beauty.  They have to look perfect.  They have to behave perfectly.  They must be exotic and evoke wonder.  They say of the animals, "It is they who choose to be in harmony with us".....well, Roy got bitten by one of his tigers in 2003 and that's when the magic ended.  (The film is from 1999.)

It's just funny how they want to be kids forever, free and full of wonder, laughing in the field with their white tigers and lions, specially bred and perfected, but they never want to let the animals have that same kind of freedom, which they deserve.  I guess when you have made your whole life into an entertainment act (let's face it, they are "on" 24/7), you assume that wild animals would be ok with that lifestyle too?  I guess they think we need to experience the "wonder" of Roy sitting on a tiger sitting on a spinning disco ball it just jumped out of?  What kind of life is this for an animal? It seems humiliating for all parties involved to me.  But then, I suppose I am not the best one to appreciate the spectacle of Vegas, never having taken the time to go there.

I have to say, during most of this movie my jaw hung open with the plain old odd-ness of the whole thing.  It's just weird.  Siegfried and Roy are two of the most bizarre human beings I have ever taken up an hour watching and contemplating.  They must spend so much "Mirror Time"-- that's one of my favorite phrases/concepts from America's Next Top Model, referring to time spent perfecting one's poses.  Really, they epitomize Mirror Time, with their faux delight at each completed trick, their scarily awkward high fives and stiffly coiffed hair.  Each moment of the entire show is choreographed in a most unnatural way. 

All I can say is, wow<

Relevant Tags

Mirror Time (1), Anthony Hopkins (1), Siegfried & Roy (1), Tigers (2), Michael Jackson (57), America's Next Top Model (2)