There are a couple of filmmakers who have excelled the art of thoroughly confusing their audience. The name of Christopher Nolan ranks on the top of that list, and he has earned his place quite justly. ‘The Prestige’ is one of his early gems and one that has slowly gained favour among his fans. On the first glance, if you get an idea of what it’s about, it seems like a normal film, just with a twisted time-frame. However, another watching presents it in a whole new light and you discover the secrets that had been there the first time as well. The difference was you hadn’t been paying attention to them. Another re-watch reveals that there was still some stuff you missed and the more you watch it, the more you’ll realise that you weren’t watching closely!
‘The Prestige’, In A Nutshell
Set in the Victorian era, it follows the story of two magicians who are consumed by their rivalry for each other. Robert Angier and Alfred Borden had started out the same, but clearly, they were men of different talents. Angier’s talents lay in the showmanship, while Borden was the genius who concocted all sorts of unimaginable tricks. Their relationship turns sour when Borden’s mistake results in the death of Angier’s wife. Seeking revenge, Angier sabotages Borden’s new trick, in response to which, Borden disrupts Angier’s show. The circle goes on and on until both men find themselves completely destroyed by their own vanity. Both sides suffer irreparable losses. There are no winners in this game, no tricks they can pull to save themselves from the fate that they chose for themselves.
The Turn and The Prestige
The whole idea of the film is driven by the obsession of Robert Angier to uncover the secret behind Alfred Borden’s The Transported Man. The first time he sees it, he is completely baffled by how it could have been done. He discusses the probability of performing such an act himself, wondering how someone could pull it off. To this, Cutter replies that a double is an obvious answer. However, while Angier is driven by obsession, he is also completely captivated by the genius of Borden. One can see that Angier admires his ingenuity, his ability to being able to tell how the tricks are employed when no else, including himself and Cutter, can’t guess how it is done. It is this admiration that blinds him and he ignores what is right in front of him and couldn’t have been spelt any clearer by Cutter. He adopts the show and gets a double to make it work, however, he faces a setback when Borden ruins his show again. Further enraged by this, Angier continues to turn a blind eye to logic, and his foolishness leads him on what was intended to be a wild goose chase.
In the turn of his luck, his meeting with Tesla turns out to be rather successful, however, in a highly different way than it was supposed to be. Tesla tries to invent teleportation, but the machine works its own magic and instead starts producing clones. Angier decides to use it to his own advantage and makes plans to go on one last magic spree. He gets himself exactly 100 shows, the main motive of which is to catch Borden’s attention. The audience is led to believe that it is because he wants to prove to Borden that he is greater than him, however, his plans turn out to be something else entirely.