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 Christopher Nolan's The Prestige

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Donald McKinney
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PostSubject: Christopher Nolan's The Prestige   Sat Aug 16, 2008 7:25 am

To try and explain the plot of The Prestige is tricky, as you might be giving away certain plot spoilers. But, the film is created by British director Christopher Nolan, who gave the meaning to the phrase mind-bender with Memento (2000), which had a simple sounding noir thriller, only told backwards, which made it all the more confusing. So, you probabily know what to expect with this one. Having had a couple of big commercial hits with Insomnia (2002) and Batman Begins (2005), he then had carte blanche to do whatever he wanted for his next film. Before he decided to do The Dark Knight (2008), he settled upon Christopher Priest's 1995 novel The Prestige, Nolan has created a film with plot twists, and for a period piece, it is unconventional but it's mood suits it perfectly.

Set in Victorian London, the film follows two magicians, American Robert Angier (Hugh Jackman), and Cockney Alfred Borden (Christian Bale) as a working friendship, soon becomes a rivalry after an onstage accident involving Angier's wife Julia, (Piper Perabo), drowning in a water tank. They go solo, Borden rises up from nothing to become a success, much to the ire of Angier, who with illusion engineer Harry Cutter (Michael Caine) and assistant Olivia (Scarlett Johansson), try to create better tricks than Borden, who attempts to sabotage Angiers performances. But, when Angier sees one of Borden's most successful tricks, The Transported Man, he tries to emulate it, but to no success, it even takes him as far as Colorado Springs in America, where he meets with reclusive Serbian electrical engineer Nikola Tesla (David Bowie), and assistant Mr. Alley (Andy Serkis), to learn the secret of how Borden does his trick...

The Prestige is a film which requires your full attention, in the words of Borden, "Are you watching closely?". Even from the start, nothing is what it seems. The opening of the film is not the full story, there's more to it than meets the eye. Even if you get your head around the juxtaposed storytelling, the twists still remain. It's a film which deconstucts the myths of magic, how magic tricks are performed, and even how far magic can go. Nolan decepts the audience with the film, it plays mind-games, it gets people thinking, and late on in the film, everything falls into place. It's almost as if Nolan has created a magic trick for our entertainment, and like the three parts of a magic trick that Cutter explains, the film has a Pledge, the film is set up in a way which LOOKS ordinary, but isn't. The Turn has us trying to figure out the twists that are occuring within this film, trying to work out how tricks are done, and is there more to our character than meets the eye. And of course, The Prestige has it's own Prestige, by the end of the film, the final twist falls into place, there's a resolution. It is a mind bending twist, which suspends the audiences disbelief, like a real magic trick.

Nolan has made a great job with this, Victorian London is cunningly recreated on location and on backlots in Los Angeles, (another deception. tongue) He even gets the best out of his cast, Jackman and Bale are two great leads for this complex and amazing fight between them. You are never quite sure whose side to take between the two, and they prove to be as bad as each other, Angier wants revenge on Borden for his wife's death, Borden ultimately leads Angier on a wild goose chase, or does he?? Plus, it is weird to see David Bowie as real-life figure Tesla, it is an offbeat yet welcome casting choice, even if he does have a weird accent, but Serkis' American accent sound weirder!! Shocked For a period piece, The Prestige goes against tradition, cinematographer Wally Pfister (Nolan's regular since Memento), uses handheld cameras for most of the film, when characters are on location, the camera focuses on them, blurring the background out. Even though it looks like an epic period piece, it is in fact quite a small-scale film. It is a very deceptive film, and Nolan was a perfect choice for this, he plays with our expectations, how we think it will eventually turn out, and going with twists we didn't expect.



The Prestige is certainly not as good as Memento, but it's one which could benefit from a second viewing. But, it's an original piece, one of the best films of the year, and it's non-linear storytelling adds to it's tricky yet seductive mood. But, remember to pay attention, when it comes to the end, it'll have you scratching your head over it for a long time afterwards, but everything does come together, if it seems like nothing is making sense, don't worry, it will in the end. Nolan has proved he is a magician of filmmaking, able to deceive his audiences into believing one thing, then pulling the rug out from under them!! Wink
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PostSubject: Re: Christopher Nolan's The Prestige   Mon Aug 18, 2008 12:23 am

Amazing movie from start to finish 5/5
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PostSubject: Re: Christopher Nolan's The Prestige   Tue Aug 19, 2008 6:08 am

An excellent film, with two very good performances from the male leads, and nice support from the likes of David Bowie and Andy Serkis. Only Johansson lets the side down (nothing new there though)

One thing that always bothered me though, the very final scsne of the film seems to be presented as a twist, indeed many reviews pointed out this twist, but I always thought it was obvious, not because I was ahead of the plot, but because we had pretty much been told beforehand. Maybe it's just me.

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PostSubject: Re: Christopher Nolan's The Prestige   Sun Aug 24, 2008 11:45 am

I love this. I like it more and more ech time I see it and unlike Gimli I never saw the twist coming. I should watch it again soon, too long since I last saw it.

5/5
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