The Hans Moretti Sword Box is one of the greatest illusions EVER to grace the art of magic—and the secret behind it is even more incredible…
In today’s post I’ll be giving you ALL the information you need to know in order to truly appreciate the Hans Moretti Sword Box (and maybe even perform it yourself!)
Here’s what we’ll cover…
What is the Hans Moretti Sword Box illusion?
First things first, let’s go over what exactly this legendary routine is. Picture this:
The magician displays an ordinary cardboard box to the audience. They spin it around so the spectators can see there is no funny business going on. Next, the magician displays the inside of the box as completely empty.
Once everyone is satisfied that there is nothing strange about the cardboard box, the magician moves to the next phase of this routine.
He displays his assistant, who is bound by all kinds of chains and locks (they can barely move their arms!) and helps them slowly lower themself into the box. Once the assistant is in, the magician closes the box up so there’s nowhere for the assistant to go.
And just for good measure, the magician decides to bind the box up with rope, so there’s no way it could be opened from the inside.
Now’s when things start to get interesting…
The magician displays a wicked-sharp sword to the audience, and (just to prove they’re exactly as sharp as they appear), sticks the point into the ground. Next, to their horror, the magician stabs the sword right through the middle of the box.
Surely there’s no way the assistant locked inside the box could have avoided it?
Well, if we weren’t sure of that already, you won’t believe what happens next. The magician takes ANOTHER sword (just as sharp) and stabs it all the way through the box (again!). But the magician doesn’t stop at two swords. Or three. Or four. Or even five…
The magician stabs a grand total of FOURTEEN swords through the box—every single part of the box has a sword through it (there’s literally NOWHERE untouched).
Now, the magician asks the assistant to give a sign to the audience (and prove that they are still within the box). The assistant pushes his hand out of the box and grabs a red handkerchief offered by the magician.
Now that the audience is certain the assistant is still within the box, the magician takes ANOTHER two swords and pushes them all the way through the box. The magician spins the box all the way around so that the audience can see that the swords really have pierced through the box from one side and out the other.
For the final part of the effect, the magician slowly removes the swords one by one from the box, until all have been pulled out and carefully put away.
The audience is left frantic…how is it possible that the assistant managed to survive the ordeal? They have NO IDEA what to expect.
To their utter astonishment, the assistant climbs out of the box completely untouched—not a single mark on them! But even more impressively, the assistant has somehow escaped the chains and locks they were bound by, and are dressed in a completely different costume!
Here’s a classic video of the Moretti’s themselves performing this classic trick on the Paul Daniels show.
Right now, there’s probably ONE question running through your head (I know it was definitely the first thing I thought when I saw it…)
Well, great question. This classic illusion is definitely a tough one to master, but it’s also not impossible. There are a certain few places you can figure out how to do it. Which is exactly what I will be explaining over the rest of this blog post.
First, a little background on the Hans Moretti Sword Box illusion
This effect was made popular by the Morettis, hence the name ‘the Hans Moretti Sword Box’—and they even won a FISM for it in 1976 (the magic equivalent of an Oscar!)
The Morettis were actually husband and wife, and Hans was always the one to enter the box while his wife, Helga, was the one to push the swords through it—as you will have noticed if you watched the performance video above. The Moretti’s were an iconic duo in the world of magic and broke more than 15 world records throughout their career. Hans was even at one point named ‘Europe’s Greatest Illusionist!’
It’s not hard to see why the Moretti’s were so popular when you consider just how incredible and mind-bending this routine is.
How to Perform the Hans Moretti Sword Box
Here’s the catch…
Not many magicians (maybe not even any) know EXACTLY how to do this trick. Some magicians know bits and pieces, but nobody really knows the FULL explanation.
Luckily for you, that doesn’t mean you can’t perform this trick. You can buy the plans to a VERY similar style effect from online magic shops that will give you a pretty close trick to this one. It’s important to keep in mind that when you purchase the plans, that’s exactly what you’re getting—the plans, not the actual illusion itself. You then use those plans to build your own illusion.
I know—it’s not easy. If you want to perform awesome magic like in the video, but don’t really have the time or money to build big illusions in your garage, you might be better suited to card magic—it only requires a deck of cards (which will be very cheap AND very small and convenient.) Yet the effects you can accomplish with card magic are JUST as powerful (sometimes even more so) than the grand stage illusions.
If you are set on this particular effect though, you could try out these plans from the Merchant of Magic, or check out this thread (or this one) to see what other magicians have said about finding plans for this illusion.
Let me know how it goes! If you have any questions about how to create your own version of the Hans Moretti Sword Box illusion, don’t hesitate to drop me a comment down below and I will be sure to get back to you!