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The Devil's Picturebook - Derren Brown

PostPosted: May 15th, '03, 12:34
by seige

The Devil's Picturebook by Derren Brown
Price: $55.00 from the Derren Brown Website (
Format: NTSC Video
UPDATE - November '03 - it seems there are also some PAL versions of the video still for sale at the above website...

Difficulty: 5/5
(1=A cat could do it, 2=No sleights, but not so easy, 3=Some sleights used,
4=Advanced sleights used, 5=Suitable for experienced magicians only)

Those of you familiar with Derren Brown will no doubt know him as the suave, sophisticated mentalist, who's mindgames and effects are not only astounding but also executed with the elegance and grace of a Siamese cat.
But what you may not know is that Derren Brown is also one of the most natural and gifted card magicians of the modern age, combined with a superb mind for misdirection. Having left this behind for a career in mentalism may seem like an odd move, but that's what he's done - and this video captures his performance, and also reveals the handlings.

The video is quite long - practically 3 hours of pure magic shot almost entirely at Derren's home, with his close friend and fellow magician Peter Clifford. The quality of filming and editing is pretty good for the genre, and the overall style of the video is sort of a 'privileged' invitation into the very private world of Derren.

The general rhythm is good - there's a performance to guests, which for once uses what I would deem as being REAL people. This makes all the difference!
After the performance, we cut back to Derren and Peter, at which point Derren methodically explains the routine.
These explanations are not for the faint hearted! They are some of the most advanced techniques you'll see, and from the onset of the tape and Derren's 3 Card Routine - you'll see that each effect demands a lot of understanding and knowledge.

Drawing on techniques from Lennart Green, Mullica and Veronon to name a few, Derren mixes established routines with his own brand of magic, and the results are quite breathtaking.

The first half of the tape deals with a lot of sleight of hand, whilst the second half seems to concentrate more on the menalism - which is how most of us know him.

All the way through, you'll be transfixed - although, I would be surprised if you can watch the lot in one sitting without reaching for your cards and thinking 'I've got to try that!'. But stay tuned for the end credits - there's a brief break from the intense routines and explanations which will lighten up the mood!

When I first obtained this video, I really knew that something special was contained within. There was a weird sort of 'hairs on the neck' moment as I opened the envelope, and I could barely hold back from playing it.
One of my personal card heroes, Lennart Green, is said to have been a major influence on Brown, and I could not wait to see what was contained on this spool of half-inch magnetic tape.

I was not disappointed, and the cassette has pride of place in my collection, not only because it is REAL magic, but because I feel that it's rarity not only as a display of pure passion and genius, but because, sadly, it is also a rare item to own.
I've even backed it up to DVD in case I ever damage the original (Obsessive???)

This is as close to genuine magic (in every sense) as you'll get - even if you're a seasoned magician, there's things here that you just can't possibly explain - even after the revelations and explanations, the magic is not really the same without the excellent and passionate performance of Brown

Rating: Effect/item: 10/10, Quality of goods: 10/10, Value for money: 10/10

The bottom line?
In a review I read before purchasing on Magicweek's website, there was a lovely line which summed up my feelings, and I quote:
"Thank the Lord for video, or we might have no record of what Derren did when he was still 'just' a magician."

But don't take my word for it - just ask anyone who owns this, and they will all tell you the same.

PostPosted: May 15th, '03, 15:07
by nickj
I also have an obsession for telling people about this video, I thought I had already posted a review on the old forum about it, and I know I have made a lot of posts regarding it. One of my favourite effects is Browns version of out of this world, but the three card trick is great, I wouldn't perform it all in one go but bits of it go down well on their own.

PostPosted: May 15th, '03, 15:11
by seige
Sorry Nick,
Didn't see your review, do you want me to delete mine?

I apologise for 'doubling up'

And I agree, the OOTW is awesome, but for me, the 3 Card Trick in it's entirety is a masterpiece, with Brown stringing together a ruck of smaller sleights, vanishes and transpo's to make a really absorbing and truly entertaining effect.

A true master.

PostPosted: May 15th, '03, 15:12
by jabba01
Mine has just arrived andI can't wait to watch it.....

PostPosted: May 15th, '03, 15:16
by nickj
don't bother, your's is better anyway!

PostPosted: May 15th, '03, 16:14
by seige
Ah, thankyou! :oops:

PostPosted: Aug 12th, '03, 12:11
by BeerForDolphins
I would like to add a note onto this review....if you are looking for examples of how to routine then I cannot recommend this video enough. Not only is Derrens handling exceptional (and I mean EXCEPTIONAL) but his explanations and approaches to rhythm and misdirection are real eye openers and not really discussed enough in magic circles.

He really emphasis the pacing and "beat" of a routine and how tension and points of relaxation can be used to misdirect. His "three card routine" is astounding and a fantastic example of how to work the participents in the trick.

I cannot wait to digest it all fully!!!

PostPosted: Aug 12th, '03, 14:27
by magicpete
Hi, not strictly a very magical question this one but would appreciate if someone could help a useless technophobe.

You mentioned in your review that the video format is NTSC. I've come across other magic videos in this format too but have never shelled out on them as I understand they won't work here in the UK??? Am I just plain wrong or do you have a way of getting around it, its all thats stopping me from buying!


PostPosted: Aug 12th, '03, 14:49
by BeerForDolphins
I've got a bottom of the line, £89, cheap as chips Sony video and that plays NTSC format tapes......I think most newer ones do?

PostPosted: Aug 12th, '03, 15:49
by nickj
yeah most do these days I think, but you had better check that yours will before you buy an NTSC video.

PostPosted: Aug 18th, '03, 16:40
by Mandrake
Bought a cheapo video from Comet earlier this year - £59.99 or thereabouts - and it plays NTSC OK. I think it was a Philips machine (or has their label on) and the standard is excellent. Quality of playback on Devil's Picturebook is as sharp as the slights and routines it demos.

PostPosted: Aug 18th, '03, 23:30
by seige
To be fair, I would say that the price of this video tape PLUS the price of a 'Matsushitty' store-brand video (which plays PAL, NTSC, BETAMAX, CINE-8, WAX CYLINDER etc.) is well worth the booty.

It's probably evident that Derren is a favourite of mine - and I can't add anything to my own review.

You'd be surprised at how many of you already HAVE NTSC playback on your VCR. It's just a pain in the butt to try and test it! I suppose I could lend you my Derren Brown video... NAH!!!!!!!!

As Mandrake implies, the price of decent VCR's has dropped massively in the past couple of years. Conversely, the specifications have risen - Nicam, NTSC playback, TV+ etc. now seem standard - whereas they were all price-hiking 'buzzwords' not so long back (struggling for bouyancy in the DVD-age???)

If you're a serious 'learner' magician, it's probably worth the investment - as there are MANY American vids which you'll be able to buy which are either not available in the UK, or are simply being phased out by DVD. The compatibility 'thang' is becoming a non-issue these days - with even DVD players becoming region-free... (anyone else use which means you can get Region 1 DVD's (American) at least 6 months before they're available here, and watch them at home.

The world is getting smaller - thanks to the digital age. I'm afraid that you either have to keep up with it, or get left behind.

Luddites: that means you!

PostPosted: Aug 19th, '03, 10:00
by Mandrake
Dunno whether this is actually true but a guy at the local TV/HiFi store told me that if the VCR has Videoplus built in then it will definitely play NTSC tapes as Videoplus was a more recent built in feature than NTSC compatibility.

I've checked my older VCR and can't see the feature whereby I can play wax cylinders as such but I admit I can't check too closely as that little dog with his head in the speaker horn gets in the way.

dezzas video

PostPosted: Nov 10th, '03, 20:42
by The Jordan way
Tremendous reviews people, anyone showing some evidence as to where this video can be purchased from? :?: :?: :?:

PostPosted: Nov 10th, '03, 22:27
by jabba01
Try Derrens site on the C4 web site. that's where I got mine.