The Prestige is a fascinating movie in its own right. Its cast comprises of big names in the film industry and above all, its story line is catching. This movie instills the desire to rush to the film hall and watch it only to come out with lots of questions regarding what really happened especially at the end. The director, Christopher Nolan has been known to create dramatic twists at the end of almost every film that he directs. However, he does know where and when to shoot a given scene, and that is what makes several people buy and watch his films regardless of previous encounters. Apart from The Prestige, Nolan has also directed other fantastic movies such as Batman Begins, Inception, and Interstellar. All these films have many scenes depicting violence and bloodshed as seen in The Prestige also. In two of them, the leading roles are out seeking revenge for misdeeds done against them. The Prestige is no exception. This paper reviews the film in detail focusing on the theme of revenge.
The film is produced using flashback style. Hence, it begins with the character Angier, played by Hugh Jackman dying. Then the film starts with a magic show scene where the two colleagues, Angier and Borden, played by Christian Bale, are trying to play a magic trick using Angier's wife. In the course of the act, Angier's wife ends up dying, and Angier blames it on Borden. Borden knows he was responsible for the mistake since he made a last minute change in the act that cost Angier's wife life. Instantly a feud breaks out between the two. However hard Angier tries to move on after his wife's death, he finds himself degraded and angered. He becomes hell bent on dealing out vengeance on his former colleague. His obsession, however, soars a degree higher when he finds out that Borden is making a name for himself on the local theatre circuit as a magician. On top of that, he seems to have a happy and idyllic family life.
Angier walks in at one time when Borden is performing and spoils Bordens on stage act. Immediately after, he begins his own performance troupe. Intense rivalry ensues between the two both onstage and offstage so much it leads to the piling up of bodies in the town. Despite Borden's happy life, Angier is still the best performer according to city residents and his fame is known all over England. However, there is only one trick that Borden does that Angier has never been able to pull off. When the film begins, there is a scene played by Cutter (Michael Caine) in which he explains the three parts of a magic trick. The first is the pledge where the magician makes a promise to his audience to do something. Then there is the turn, where the magician performs an act based on the pledge he made and finally, there is the prestige where the magician fulfills his pledge and the thrilled audience stands and erupts in thunderous applause.
To understand how Borden manages to perform the disappearing trick, Angier seeks the wisdom of Cutter. However, he is dissatisfied with how simple the trick seems when Cutter explains it to him. He decides to seek help elsewhere since he is certain there is an intellectual in America who aided Borden in preparing for the trick. He goes all the way to Colorado to enlist the assistance of Nikola Tesla, a character played by David Bowie. When there, he asks Tesla to decipher and improve on Borden's masterpiece. Driven by his resentment for Borden's act, Angier commissions Tesla to create an item that will enable him to perform the greatest illusion ever. When Tesla finishes Angier's piece amidst encounters with Thomas Edison's men who are also interested in Tesla's work, he returns to Europe to feature in his already sold out show. He immediately begins to overtake Borden's popularity by using the trick. He gains the help of Borden's assistant, Olivia (Scarlet Johansson). He uses her to gain Borden's confidence and steal his secrets. It is important to note at this point that Olivia is in a discreet relationship with Borden's twin brother whose identity they have managed to keep hidden to protect the integrity of their magic work. By using Olivia, Angier follows closely as events unfold in an act presided by Borden's loyal assistant, Fallon, who also seems to have motivated interest in Borden's family life.
This way, Angier learns all of Borden's tricks and every night he is performing, he clones himself on stage by stepping into Tesla's machine and the clone emerges on the balcony seconds after he completes the trick. At the end of the show, there is a scene displaying Angier's assistants taking his clones out of the theatre and dumping them in another deserted theatre. It is in this theatre that Angier and Borden have their last encounter. Before Borden realizes what Angier has been planning all this time, he finds himself in a scene of the murder. However, it is important to note that it is Angier who tricks him by dropping a clone in the tank and leaves Borden to be accused of murder. Another way Angier uses his cloning technology is when he sets one of his clones to assume the role of Lord Caldow since as he states earlier on in the film, he is from a wealthy family. However, his family is embarrassed by his pursuit of magic. It is at this point Angier fails to play his cards correct since his long-time associate; Cutter learns of his deeds and becomes upset.
Cutter views the case as one of betrayal and he does not hesitate to tip off Borden. Borden reunites with his daughter. He then confronts Lord Caldow in the deserted theatre thinking it is Angier and shoots him in the chest leaving him to die. This way, he stops the cycle of Angiers clones and emerges victorious in the battle of the two men. Borden emerges victorious in this case because he suffers a lot because of losing tons of relatives such as his brother and his wife who hung herself believing he was cheating on her. Even though getting rid of his rival, Lord Caldow, who would be watching over his daughter makes him certain that he is victorious, the end of the film offers another twist that is not that clear. In my opinion, however, Angier used his trick of clones to trick even the much-convinced Borden. This way, he was able to run away.
The underlying stories of competition between the two characters are parallel to those of Tesla and Edison. The two are well thought-out magicians in their electric dominion. This contest undoubtedly reflects the enmity between Angier and Borden. There also exists a controversy between women in the film, namely Olivia and Sarah Borden. The two are selfishly controlled by both conjures whereby one is asked to divide her loyalties to her man while the other is forced to question if her husband's loyalty to her is divided. In the end, every character appears fooled or deceived by the unexpected deceiver.
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