Film review: The Prestige (2006), directed by Christopher Nolan
Set some time in the past (late 1800s?), Robert Angier (Hugh Jackman) and Alfred Borden (Christian Bale) are both illusionists, and very good they are too. Both even have a great deal of success in their field. After the on-stage death of Angier’s wife Julia (Piper Perabo) the two friends become bitter rivals who constantly try to one-up the other – until Angier dies during one of his tricks, and Borden is convicted of his murder.
But how did they end up like this? And who really has the most impressive magic trick up their sleeve?
Also starring Michael Caine as Cutter, Rebecca Hall as Sarah Borden, Scarlett Johansson as Olivia Wenscombe, featuring David Bowie as Nikola Tesla, Andy Serkis as Alley and Daniel Davis as a judge.
That the film is #67 on the IMDb Top 250 chart, and is directed by the man behind the Dark Knight trilogy should be some sort of indication that this is a pretty good film, before you even see who’s in it.
The rivalry between the two former friends, which is actually more akin to an arms race, has a lot of surprises in stock. It’s fascinating (and disturbing – those poor birds!) to get an insight into how some of the magic tricks of the time were performed, but it’s all very down to earth. Except where Tesla is concerned. Surprisingly, then the film suddenly ventures into science fiction territory! And it all still works incredibly well.
If you want a film where you afterwards think “dang, that’s clever” or feel ever so slightly mindfucked, then The Prestige is it. Yes, some bits are definitely not reality-based (even with current technology, although if Tesla had still been around today, who knows?), but they’re still nothing really short of amazing.
Plus, those two fine gentlemen (Jackman and Bale) in the same film, in period costume … one really must not complain.
The Prestige is riveting, clever and just plain good on so many levels.
4.8 out of 5 coded diaries.