Jazz, film, and improvised culture.
An Enchantress: Merlin Meets His Match (Maybe)
is a system of magic economists will appreciate. When a sorcerer magically
gives in one place, the mystical checks and balances will take from someplace
else. It is hard to predict how the accounts will be evened, even for an
experienced magician like Merlin. No, he is most likely not that Merlin.
However, he has professional reasons for keeping people wondering in director-screenwriter
Ian Lewis’s An Enchantress (trailer here), which releases
today on DVD from MVD.
the Arthurian Merlin were alive and well, living in provincial England, he
might also make ends meet by staging magic shows at the local theater. This
Merlin is [probably] not that Merlin, but his magic is real. He supplements his
income by performing real magic for paying customers, but he tries to limit the
impact of his spells and ensure they are cast for a worthy cause. Helping the
venal Strumble ascend to the local planning council was a mistake in
resulting corruption will have ripple effects that will ensnare Merlin and his
wife Gail. However, in the short-term they will be distracted grieving for his
step-son Gary. The circumstances of his backpacking death remain murky, despite
the return of his committed girlfriend Viviane. She makes Merlin a bit nervous.
In addition to her unhealthy obsession with magic and her uncomfortable
flirtatiousness, there is the matter of her name. After all, it was Nimueh (a.k.a.
Viviane) who seduced Merlin and entrapped him in the Crystal Cave.
you can get past the low budget aesthetic, An
Enchantress is a super little British genre sleeper. Lewis uses magic in
intriguing ways, while playing clever games with the Arthurian source material.
He also sets a weirdly ambiguous tone for the village, where belief and
skepticism for Merlin’s powers go hand-in-hand. Nevertheless, magic is very
real in this world, as is government corruption.
British television character actor Nicholas Ball is terrific as Merlin. He has
both the old school presence and the mischievousness you would expect from a
powerful sorcerer. He also develops some attractively realistic chemistry with
Johanne Murdock’s very down-to-earth Gail. Olivia Llewelyn projects a sense of
danger and sexual unease while guarding Viviane’s secrets. Abigail McKern
(Rumpole’s daughter) also leads the film some classical gravitas as Merlin’s
There is considerably more scope to An Enchantress than you initially
expect, but Lewis peels back the onion so smoothly, it all makes narrative
sense. Granted, you have to just accept the quality of the special effects, but
if you grew up with shows like the original Doctor
Who and Blake’s 7, then they will
have nostalgic appeal. Frankly, it feels like a cult favorite 1970s BBC
television film that has only now been discovered, in the best way imaginable. Highly
recommended for dark fantasy fans, An
Enchantress is now available on DVD from MVD.
Labels: British Cinema, DVD