David Blaine: Fearless

Watching magic close up, in person, is an awesome experience. Your mind tells you it’s a trick, but your eyes don’t agree. It’s something that brings out the kid in us, every time a guy in a tuxedo and top hat “magically” figures out “what card you picked.”

After years of magicians trying to upscale and outdo each other, along came David Blaine — a regular guy who walks down the street (camera man in tow), performing magic for the common man. No white tigers or disappearing Statues of Liberty here. Blaine’s tools are cards, sleight of hand, and his mind.

David Blaine’s Fearless DVD contains “the best of” his three television specials: Street Magic, Magic Man, and Frozen In Time. Don’t let that “best of” tag fool you; other than commercial breaks and the occasional slimming down of tricks, pretty much everything’s here. If you remember if from the television broadcasts, chances are you’ll find it here as well.

In “Street Magic,” Blaine spends most of his time wandering around the streets, performing (mostly) card tricks for people. As no one had heard of Blaine at this time, this first special contains a few celebrities, namely Leonardo DiCaprio (who is shown in short segments, asking David Blaine questions about magic) and many of the Dallas Cowboys, who witness, among other things, David Blaine levitating.

Yes, levitating. Blaine performs an old (but uncommon) version of a levitation trick. The most amazing thing are the people’s descriptions of the trick afterwards. Once you know how the trick is done (something not divulged on the DVD, but readily available via the internet), you know it’s impossible for the person to “levitate” more than 2-3 inches. Still, people who have just seen the trick often describe him as floating “a foot into the air.”

During Blaine’s levitation, a cut away shot is shown. In the cut away shot, Blaine is shown floating a good foot into the air. This was a shot that was filmed after the first levitation. In person, the people were explained that “this is how someone would perform the trick with wires,” but we (as DVD viewers) are never explained this. This pretty much ruins the rest of the DVD for me. The only enjoyment you get out of watching magic on television is the mutual understanding that there are “no camera tricks” involved. Once that line has been crossed, everything else becomes suspect.

The magic continues in the “Magic Man.” Where “Street Magic” focuses more on card tricks, “Magic Man” contains more mentalism tricks. One trick that Blaine performs multiple times involves him walking up to a person, telling them to “mentally pick a card” (just think of one in their mind), and then he tells them what it is. In one scene, he tells three guys to think of cards, then he points at them one at a time. “You picked the Jack of clubs. You, the Queen of hearts. You, the nine of clubs.” He’s right every time. That particular trick seemed a little far fetched to me. “Magic Man” comes just short of suggesting that the guy is actually psychic. Of course, moments later he’s biting quarters in half and pushing a cigarette through a coin, two tricks that are for sale for $5 in every magic store. The card mind reading trick makes me wonder how much footage the producers have of wrong guesses.

The third portion of the film is made up of Blaine’s “Frozen In Time” special, where Blaine had himself encased in a big block of ice where he stood for several days. While there are still clips of tricks here, the majority of the program is footage of Blaine standing still in a block of ice. After proving himself to be one of the masters of close-up magic, Blaine’s career has taken a side path into the field of “survival” publicity stunts like his idol, Houdini. After encasing himself in ice, Blaine has also stood on top of a narrow pole for quite some time, buried himself in a plexiglass box for a week without food or water, and is currently (as of this writing) sitting in a box for 44 days without food. Shrug. I’d rather see his card tricks any day.

The more I watched Fearless, the more I think many of Blaine’s tricks have parts you don’t see on television. For example, in one scene Blaine asks a person on the street to think of a dead relatvie, only to lift his shirt and have the face tattooed on his stomach. In another trick, he has a mark pick a card, only to have it reappear — in their shoe. These are tricks that cannot possibly happen the way they are presented on the DVD.

The Fearless DVD contains three extra portions, one for each of the three specials. It also contains scans of some Blaine newspaper articles, and a section of “Unseen Blaine Footage”. Not as exciting as it sounds, the unseen footage is about seven minutes of tricks cut out of the specials, usually because (A) it prominantly shows the word “Budweiser”, (B) the people were drunk, or (C) the people cussed. One long unseen spot has Blaine performing his levitation, and then “overacting” about how much pain and suffering the trick caused him. The scene goes on WAY too long, and Blaine’s fake-acting is pretty awful.

Fearless is worth owning just so you can show this guy off to all your friends (if any of them haven’t seen or heard of him yet). You can pick it up new for between $12.99 and $14.99 at most major stores, and it’s definitely worth that.

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