The Prestige Explained In a Nutshell
The Prestige Movie Trailer
The Prestige Movie Review Breakdown
Tagline: Are You Watching Closely?
Who is in it? Christian Bale, Hugh Jackman, Michael Caine, Scarlett Johansson, and David Bowie.
Genre: Drama – Mystery – Thriller
Was it dramatic, mysterious and thrilling? Yes.
Would this movie be for every mystery fan? Yes.
Should you see it? You haven’t seen this?!?
Run Time: 130 minutes
After having my daughter 4 months ago and a long writing hiatus, I have decided to review The Prestige. This movie is one of those copycat movies that comes out really close to a similar movie. In this case the movie this one is tied to is called The Illusionist which was also released in 2006 within 1 month of each other. Although these types of movies usually come in two flavors. They either both suck horribly, or one is awesome and the other is garbage. This is the fabled third flavor, both movies are great movies. Enough filler lets get to the movie.
The movie begins the way many do, towards the end. Then it ‘Tarantinos’ (jumps back to the beginning) with glimpses of the present (near the end of the film). Make sense? Didn’t think so, but it makes for a good movie. Since this synopsis is really an explanation of sorts lets explain the film from the perspective of a viewer that is watching the movie a second time to put all the pieces together. We start out seeing Robert Angier aka The Great Danton (Hugh Jackman) setting up his ultimate illusion. His rival Alfred Borden aka The Professor (Christian Bale) goes backstage to find out his trick and sees Angier fall into a water torture cell and drown. We then cut to a courtroom where Borden is on trial for the murder of Angier which is found guilty. A lawyer is sent by a shadowy figure named Lord Caldlow is sent to see Borden in prison to buy Borden’s tricks in exchange for the indefinite care of his daughter and Angier’s diary.
Then we cut to a middle shot of Angier in Colorado meeting trying to secure a meeting with Tesla to proposition him into making a trick he believes he has made before (for Borden). We have yet another cut back to the start of the rivalry. Basically Angier’s wife is a magician’s assistant and dies in the water torture cell escape. Borden is blamed for the death due to his want to tie a different knot. Although it’s unclear if Borden is actually to blame or not, the rivalry is born. When Angier asks what knot he tied, he said he didn’t know. He didn’t know of course because Borden is actually two people. Borden’s manager Fallon is actually his twin brother and they routinely switch roles. Borden REALLY didn’t know what knot he tied. Borden is later doing a show in some sort of a dime show museum type of place and announces he is going to do a bullet catch. Angier in disguise grabs the gun as the volunteer and slips in a real bullet into the rigged gun and asks him again, “what knot did you tie Borden?”, but he doesn’t know. As he goes to kill Borden with his own trick, Fallon tackles him which deflects the gun downward which shoots some of his fingers off instead of killing him. And later we see Fallon’s devotion to the process by cutting his own fingers off too to keep up the illusion.
Anyway… lets kick his in high gear to keep me from writing a dictionary. There is some more back and forth between the two (three) men and it all rhymes with sabotage. Borden releases his trick the transported man and it blows Angier away. Angier comes up with a better version but is convinced that Borden’s lame version is better because he believes Borden does it solo without the aid of a double. Borden gets to Angier’s double and sabotages his trick and results to Angier breaking his leg. Angier goes to Colorado and secures a device that can clone stuff and Angier uses it to preform a limited run of the ‘ultimate’ trick. Basically Angier clones himself with the device and a trap door drops the original into a tank to die while the other appears across the room. Borden goes backstage, gets set up for murder and gets put to death. Angier is revealed to be Lord Caldlow and he buys all of his old devices and has them delivered to his theater so he can burn them. Fallon (Borden) shows up to confront Angier as himself and shoots him. The movie ends with Borden walking out of the burning theater and reuniting with his daughter.
Official Nutshell-Movies Explanation
The Prestige ( 2006): Two (technically 3) rival magicians battle to out do each others trick and ultimately leads to murder.
Fun Facts about The Prestige
- In the Bullet Catch scene, you can clearly see the name Harry Dresden on the list of performers under “The Professor.” Harry Dresden is a fictional wizard in “The Dresden Files”, a series of books by novelist ‘Jim Butcher’, and later the basis of The Dresden Files.
- Ricky Jay, who played a magician in the film, coached Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale in their sleight-of-hand techniques.
- Chung Ling Soo was a stage character created by a Caucasian American man, William Ellsworth Robinson, who disguised himself as a Chinese man to cash in on audiences’ enthusiasm for the exotic. Robinson lived as Chung, never breaking character while in public. He died in March 1918 when a bullet catch trick went wrong. “My God, I’ve been shot” were both his last words and the first English he had spoken on stage in 19 years.
- The main characters’ initials spell ABRA (Alfred Borden Robert Angier), as in Abracadabra, a common word used by magicians.
- Alfred Borden takes on the stage name of “The Professor”. This is the nickname that was given to Dai Vernon, the man many consider to be the best modern day sleight of hand magician.
- Sam Mendes had shown interest in adapting Christopher Priest’s novel for the big-screen, but Priest insisted that Christopher Nolan direct the film, based on his love for both Following and Memento.
- Root, the on-stage double of Angier (Hugh Jackman), announces that he has played Faust and Caesar in the past. Both were famously portrayed on stage as men destroyed by their own ambition, as Angier eventually is.
The Prestige is an entertaining story of deception and betrayal between two rival magicians.