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- Thor Trailer
- Review: Dinner for Schmucks
- What's Next for the Nolans?
- Listen to Scott Pilgrim vs. the World Soundtrack
- Give Him the Kick!
- Black Swan, The Town, & Buried Hit Toronto
- The Vault: Space Camp
- My Favorite Scenes: The Thomas Crown Affair (1999)...
- Stone Trailer
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- Review: Inception
- The Social Network Theatrical Trailer
- Here's Ryan!
- Due Date Trailer
- My Favorite Scenes: Catch Me If You Can (2002)
- Comic Book Films and the Psyche
- Second 'Social Network' Teaser
- The Vault: The Prestige (2006)
- Review: Knight and Day
- 3D So Far
- Listen to Inception Soundtrack Now
- ▼ July (21)
"Are you watching closely?" A fair question for director Christopher Nolan's mind-bending film. Alfred Borden (Christian Bale) and Robert Angier are audience plants for Milton the Magician and both are hoping for their own careers with the assistance of Cutter (Michael Caine, who only keeps getting better in recent years). Angier's flaw is that despite being the better showman he has know idea how to craft a trick. When taking in a Chung Ling Soo show, Borden spots the actuality of the trick while Angier sits confounded. Real magic requires commitment, claims Borden, what the audience doesn't know is that those words will ring throughout the entirety of the film.
Magic is brutal in the beginning of the 20th century, but rival magicians are more brutal still. Obsession, secrecy, and ultimately, revenge. After the loss of Angier's fiance in a trick that should have been routine Angier blames Borden for taking away happiness that should have been his. As the tensions among Borden and Angier escalate, the revenge takes a horrific turn each time they meet. Angiers, now grief-stricken, holds Borden at gun point demanding to know what knot he tied. Borden replies that he can't remember and Angiers take away a magician's greatest tools: his fingers.
Committment, initially Angier's downfall, becomes his upperhand as he enlists the help of Nikolas Tesla to create the machine that allows him to duplicate Borden's "Transported Man". This machine, Tesla warns, should be destroyed, "Man's grasp exceeds his nerve". Angier, letting his blood-lust get the best of him, advances in a foolhardy manner that ends in a climactic final scene that brings realization to the audience that as each man strives to out do each other they lose their humanity in the process.
The way the films unfolds in a non-linear timeline leaves many viewers shaking their heads, but for a trick to be fully appreciated we must go back through the pledge, the turn and finally the prestige. In keeping the audience off-kilter the actions of Angier and Borden become clear. These men aren't just ambitious, but inhumanely driven. Angier casts away a precious amount in order to see the spotlight shone on him. He sacrifices everything. The film depends on both Jackman and Bale to create emotional ties with the audience in an otherwise cold, calculating and horrifying story.
What makes this film one of the more interesting Nolan works is that is he integrates the Universe's most important question without even having it uttered.
In playing with notions of keeping the audience in the dark and and the inability of Man to simply acknowledge the impossibility for certain things to exist, Angier continues the charade rather than accept the horrifying reality of it. "The audience knows the truth- that the world is simple. Miserable. Solid all the way through. But if you could fool them, even for a second, you could make them wonder. Then you got to see something very special..." As Borden says, punching a brick wall in a city plagued wretched conditions, it takes them away from all this.