Slideshow Image

Simon Magus

Directed by Ben Hopkins

UK-USA-France-Germany-Italy | 101 minutes | 1999

It is the end of the 19th century and progress has arrived in Silesia. Travelers do not stop at the town anymore because the railway track is laid past the small settlement. Incomes have dropped, and so has the number of inhabitants. Noah Taylor plays Simon, a holy fool of sorts, persecuted by fellow villagers who hold him responsible for everything from the failure of the crops to the milk going sour. Simon, who resembles a scarecrow, lives in a hut outside the village. He earns his living emptying the sewers, existing on dry bread and the occasional herring or pickle given by the wife of a rabbi. He knows how to entertain the village children with his magic tricks and devilish masks. At the same time, he feels he actually is pursued by the devil, which makes him do all kinds of evil things, only increasing his isolation. There is also the poor but good-looking Jew, Dovid, who keeps proposing to the beautiful widow Leah, who rejects him. Dovid devises a plan to build the village economy, and in the process gain her affection. He pays a visit to the eccentric poet esquire and agrees to a business deal which entails the esquire allowing a new railway station to be built on his property in return for Dovid reading his newly published anthology. Unfortunately, Hase Sean McGinley, a wealthy Christian merchant with more money and little respect for the Jewish villagers, is also interested in the railway project. Simon Magus is the story of a village caught between two worlds — the new industrial order and the old, rural world of tradition and superstition.
Director Ben Hopkins
Countries of Production UK-USA-France-Germany-Italy
Year of Presentation 1999
Premiere Status
Runtime 101 minutes
Principal Cast Noah Taylor, Rutger Hauer, Ian Holm, Toby Jones, Stuart Townsend, Sean McGinley

Winner of Best Actor and Best Director at Sitges

Back to Top