Tuesday, September 16, 2008
I cannot tell you that the story behind The Prestige is simple as I do with some of my other reviews, nor can I tell you all about it as that would spoil the surprise. What I can tell you is that this film improves with every viewing because more layers of the story become clear to the viewer.
My favorite thing about the film is actually how it is structured; the film is structured like a magic trick. One of the characters sets up this structure at the beginning of the film; every magic trick contains three parts, the pledge where the magician shows you something ordinary but of course it isn’t ordinary, the turn where he takes the ordinary object and makes it extraordinary, and finally the prestige where the pay off of the magic trick is revealed - without the prestige the trick is worthless.
The pledge in this film seems so very ordinary; Cutter, Alfred, Robert & his wife Julia work for a magician and the Robert & Alfred have aspirations to become magicians in their own right. While performing a trick they have done hundreds of times something goes wrong and Julia is killed. Distraught, Robert blames Alfred for Julia’s death and both men leave their positions seeking to better the other as the world’s best magician a rivalry fueled by Robert’s anger at Alfred. Alfred and Cutter join forces to help bring Alfred’s magic to the public.
The turn is the middle of the film; Alfred has lived up to his word and created what appears to be the world’s greatest magic trick and no one can duplicate it. Alfred becomes massively popular and eclipse's Robert’s glory; the two men begin to compete even more than before and each forsee’s the other’s next step. Angered even more, Robert seeks to discover how Alfred’s illusion is managed and finally has Alfred stopped from performing his trick by having him arrested and tried for murder.
The prestige is what I cannot reveal, but it truly is the point in the movie where Christopher and Jonathon Nolan take what seemed to be an ordinary rivalry and turn it into something you never expected and a masterful bit of writing that makes the entire movie that precedes it more worth the viewing. Just like promised, the prestige of this film makes the entire movie worth watching again and again.
When I tell you that this movie is different I am not exaggerating. The story is more complex and layered that I can explain here without ruining everything for you. I think that this movie surprises and confuses people, but it is so worth your time.
Director: Christopher Nolan
Writers: Christopher and Jonathon Nolan
Alfred: Christian Bale
Robert: Hugh Jackman
Cutter: Michael Caine
Julia: Piper Perabo
Olivia: Scarlett Johansson
Tesla: David Bowie
Sarah: Rebecca Hall
Cutter: 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".