By Josh Zerbini (Clarks Green, PA)
Are You Watching Closely?
I am sure that many of you out there share the same interest as me when it comes to magic tricks. I have always enjoyed the sleight-of-hand and illusion because it makes me wonder. How did he/she do it? If you are like, me you have asked this question several times when it comes to magic. This is because our mind works in complex ways. We are curious creatures with a yearning for adventure, something to disrupt the mundane, normal and routine lifestyles we all have experienced from time to time. We want something we can marvel at, even if we know that it is fake or illusory.
Well, if in fact you do share this same interest, you will without a doubt love the movie I will be reviewing here, directed by Christopher Nolan, and co-written by his brother Jonathan Nolan, was released on October 20, 2006. This movie is saturated with rich, vivid illusions performed by none other than Christian Bale and Hugh Jackman. Coming along their sides for role support are Michael Caine, Scarlet Johansson, and David Bowie. If you have seen movies directed by Nolan such as Memento and Inception and have enjoyed them, you will certainly not be displeased with this magical masterpiece. Nolan is most known for his genuine ability to immerse his films with intellectual elegance sophistication. If any of out there do not mind racking your brain for answers while watching a film, then The Prestige is a must see!
“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’.”
The Prestige takes place in the 19th century Victorian world where magic and illusion are what everyone does; it’s how you made a living. Christian Bale (Alfred Borden) and Hugh Jackman (Robert Angier) who were once friends, share a mutual hatred and vengeance towards each other due to accidental death of their “lovely stage assistant Piber Perabo (Julia McCulough) who was Robert Angier’s wife. Supposedly this was the result of some risk-taking by Alfred Borden for stage effect. The once “best friends” came vicious enemies wanting nothing better than to demolish one another through competitive magic tricks. Throughout the movie, Borden and Angier do whatever it takes to “one-up” each other on stage.
Although the acting in this movie is incredible to say the very least, in my opinion, it seems to appear subservient to the plot. This may seem to sound negative, but in reality is a very good thing! If you think about it, you do not go to a magic show to see the emotional integrity the assistant coveys as she is being “sawed” in half. Rather, you go to be utterly amazed how the assistant is able to get up and walk in one piece after being seemingly mutilated by the magician. So in regards to The Prestige the acting is amazing, but what will really entice the viewer, is the plethora of plot twists that keeps you on the edge of your seat.
As I have all ready mentioned, Nolan’s dexterity in intellectual directing becomes very apparent throughout the entirety of this movie. This movie is saturated with plot twists as it layered with countless flashbacks to cause the viewer to desperately attempt to concentrate on what is taking place in the film. This eager desire to comprehend the storyline is what causes the film to be so incredible. I know that at least for me, I starve for this aspect in movie making. I do not want a movie to simply provide me the answers. I want to discover these answers for myself, because that gives some sense of accomplishment.
Before concluding I would like to share one last quote from the movie…
“You never understood why we did this. The audience knows the truth: the world is simple. It’s miserable, solid all the way through. But if you could fool them, even for a second, then you can make them wonder, and then you… then you got to see something really special… you really don’t know? It was… it was the look on their faces… “
In my opinion, this movie did exactly that. Throughout the entire course of this movie, I was in wonder and awe. Even though I may, unfortunately, have to return to normal life here on earth, at least for a few hours I could experience a marvelous masterpiece of cinematography and screenplay.
For all of these above reasons, I would highly recommend this movie to anyone out there who is not opposed to opening their minds. But, as always in any case, I am well aware that some people out there did not like this movie for certain reasons. If so, I would love to know why. Was this movie a success? Do you think Christopher Nolan accomplished his desirable goals in this film?