Screened as part of NZIFF 2001
Viva Las Vegas 2001? With two shows a day, 46 weeks a year at the Mirage Hotel in Las Vegas, Siegfried and Roy and their supporting cast of lions, tigers, tights and codpieces have played to over 30,000,000 people – and they’re still pulling ’em in. Siegfried Fischbacher (60) and Roy Uwe Ludwig Horn (55) swirl and strut about the Mirage stage like 40-year-old Peter Pans, caped masters of an in-yer-lap 3-D world: magnificent big cats, showgirls, fire, smoke and mirrors.
But make no mistake; at this New Age circus, ‘nature is the true magic’ and the ringmasters have bonded with the beasts. Watch as they pause for a contemplative moment with the handsomely groomed wildcats that roam their seriously fabulous home and garden. (Alas the IMAX camera never pauses long enough on their smiling faces to scrutinise the more astounding magic of their eternal youth.)
Like many an IMAX experience before it, The Magic Box is entered through the eyes of awe-struck children; two young boys visiting backstage at the Mirage learn about the superstar heroes by peering into a grandiose cgi gizmo, the magic box. Their solitary brooding boyhoods and their shipboard meeting are divulged in tableaux that suggest storybook illustrations by a Germanic Pierre et Giles. The most famous and guarded same-sex couple in showbiz, Siegfried and Roy have authorised a self-mythology which abounds in wholesome gay iconography.
The young Siegfried, blond and classically Aryan, climbs mountains and takes up stage magic, hoping to cheer up his depressed father. Dark-haired, delicate Roy has a lifelong affinity for animals, beginning with a dog who rescues him from quicksand and continuing with a cheetah, Chico, that accompanies him when he takes a job as a steward on a cruise ship. Onboard, Roy discovers Siegfried performing magic tricks and challenges him to make the cheetah disappear. The rest is showbiz history.
This spectacular achievement in kitsch is clinched by the Voice Beautiful of Sir Anthony Hopkins, intoning solemn pronouncements on the power of dreams, magic, nature etc. Accompanied by an orchestra in a perpetual state of crescendo, The Magic Box, like Vegas itself, is not recommended if you have a headache. — BG