Plot Details: This opinion reveals minor details about the movie's plot.
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The Prestige (2006) Directed by Christopher Nolan, written by Christopher and Jonathan Nolan. Adapted from the novel by Christopher Priest.
"Every great magic trick consists of three parts or acts. The first part is called "The Pledge". The magician shows you something ordinary: a deck of cards, a bird or a man. He shows you this object. Perhaps he asks you to inspect it to see if it is indeed real, unaltered, normal. But of course... it probably isn't. The second act is called "The Turn". The magician takes the ordinary something and makes it do something extraordinary. Now you're looking for the secret... but you won't find it, because of course you're not really looking. You don't really want to know. You want to be fooled. But you wouldn't clap yet. Because making something disappear isn't enough; you have to bring it back. That's why every magic trick has a third act, the hardest part, the part we call "The Prestige"." Mr. Cutter.
Alfred Borden (Christian Bale) and Robert Angier (Hugh Jackman) are magicians. They are young and full of dreams; Alfred in particular has a "perfect trick" planned. Robert is somewhat distracted by that most powerful of distractions, a pretty girl, Julia (Piper Perabo) his wife. She is an escape artist.
But when Borden makes a modification to the knot she is suspended by for a water escape trick, she drowns. Angier blames him. And after a while, Angier moves to take his revenge.
Borden has moved on. He has a wife, and a child. Borden is struggling to get an act up and running; he is a brilliant magician, but a poor showman. His big trick is the bullet catch. Of course, the trick is there is no bullet in the gun.
When Angier, disguised as the volunteer, takes the gun he slips a bullet in the barrel. Mr. Fallon sees the truth of what is happening, and moves, and the shot goes wide, so Borden only looses two fingers, ring and pinkie on his left hand. A magician with missing fingers...it does limit what he can do..
However, Angier has a new act. The big trick is a cage with a dove that disappears while it is being held by two volunteers. Borden turns Angier's trick against him and gremlins the trick, leaving Angier on stage with a crushed bird, and tangled with a woman screaming because the cage has broken her fingers.
Now Borden is up, with an absolutely brilliant trick where he steps into a cabinet, throws a rubber ball at the other cabinet on the far side of the stage, and, stepping out of the second cabinet, he catches the ball. Angier is obsessed with the trick; how does he do it? It is Borden, down to his mangled fingers. Finally, Angier settles for a double, a less than flawless plan. However, the trick meets with great success, mainly because Angier is such a good showman.
However, when Borden Gremlins this act, and oh my, he does a devilishly good job of ruining Angier's career, to say nothing of his leg, Angier is now totally dedicated. And he heads to America to talk not to a magician, but a Wizard, Nikola Tesla.
There are several things I would like to share with the audience. One, pay close attention to the very first picture on the screen. It is significant. It is the Pledge.
Two, when Angier and Borden are young magicians, Cutter (Michael Caine) the gadget maker, sends them to see a master, Chung Ling Soo.
This character is based on a real magician, a Caucasian American man, William Ellsworth Robinson, who created a feeble Chinese Wu Jen, feeling it lent an air of the exotic. Robinson lived as Chung, never breaking character while in public. He was performing a bullet catch in March of 1918 when, in an eerie mirror of the movie, some one put something in the barrel of the gun. "My God, I've been shot." He said.
They were the first words of English he ever said on stage in 19 years of performing. They were also his last.
Look on the bill where Borden is billed as the Professor. The next act is Harry Dresden, the wizard hero of Jim Butchers series of books, the Dresden Files.
This story is ultimately one of obsession and the prices you are willing to pay. Cutter says it so well, "Obsession is a young man's game.." Magic consumed so many lives here. Magic is the goal; Angier said "The man stole my life. I steal his trick." Does it seem a fair trade? Later, it is drawn clearer..
Olivia Wenscombe: It won't bring your wife back.
Robert Angier: I don't care about my wife. I care about his secret.
This is one of the most original movies I have ever seen. The Pledge is that it will amaze us; the Turn is the obsessive war between Angier and Borden. And the Prestige...will leave you breathless.
And you won't get the full horror...and yes, this is a horror movie...until after it ends. You will sit there as the credits roll, and ponder what you have seen, and like handkerchiefs from a Magician's sleeve, the levels of horror and the revelations come one after another, longer, and longer and longer.
This story is almost perfect. The Art Direction and Cinematography were nominated for an Oscar. The Story was nominated for the Saturn, and the Hugo. Nolan won the Empire. And the acting; both Bale and Jackman were nominated for their roles. And I have to say there was not a weak performance in the lot; Rebecca Hall, who was Bordens' wife, Sarah, was particularly good. Caine as the wise and tricky Cutter was a delight.
It is rare that every single aspect of a movie lines up to create something that is greater than the sum of its parts. This movie is one of those films. It receives my highest recommendation; Five Stars.
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Viewing Format: DVD
Video Occasion: Fit for Friday Evening
Suitability For Children: Suitable for Children Age 13 and Older