Once again a theatre show was the starting point for a new film. Jos Stelling saw ‘De Komiek’ (the comedian) by Freek de Jonge and wished to distil a film out of it, but De Jonge believed that ‘De Tragiek’ (the tragedy) would be better suited. This time Stelling did continue with another artist, who also got the lead opposite Jim van der Woude, who played his brother. What Stelling had feared would happen during a close collaboration with Herman van Veen, happened now during the shooting. Up to and including the final editing there were continuous clashes in the artistic views of Stelling and the Jonge. Freek de Jonge’s company, Big Boy Productions, co-produced the film, leading him to conclude that not only did he have the lead role, but that he also had just as much say in the final product as Jos Stelling.
As in earlier films, The Illusionist hardly contains a story to speak of. Freek de Jonge plays the son of a miller in the country, who is looking for the magic of the theatre and is stuck with his mentally handicapped brother. This leads to a succession of tragicomic scenes with references to themes like missed ambitions and lost youth, round a family full of peculiar personalities.