“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…”
In this 2006 masterpiece, whilst working as apprentices, two upcoming rival magicians Robert Angier (Hugh Jackman) and Alfred Borden (Christian Bale) begin a friendly competition with each other; both trying to better each others magic tricks. Very quickly things take a turn for the worse when Angier’s wife Julia McCullough (Piper Perabo) is tragically killed by Borden’s possible negligence during a trick on stage. As rivalry turns to obsession the two duelling magicians ruthlessly set out to destroy each other both personally and professionally.
You should be warned; I’m going to gush a little bit.
The idea of two rival magicians falling out and competing against each other may seem a very simple and somewhat boring idea, but I assure you, the Prestige is far more engaging than your average movie. I refuse to give out any spoilers, but It needs to be said that this film is so much more than it appears. I promise if you go into it with no more idea than the basic plot I’ve outlined above, you will be pleasantly surprised. It really does have one of the most haunting endings that I’ve ever seen committed to film.
As studios often do, it was released in the same year as ‘The Illusionist’, starring Edward Norton. Both films strongly feature the use of magic and theatrics in a period setting and have obviously been released so close to each other as a form of competition by the studios. In cases like this, most recently seen in ‘Olympus Has Fallen’ vs. ‘White House Down’, everybody has their own favourite, and I even have friends who’ve told me they much prefer The Illusionist over this– to which I say – ‘to each their own’ (and then I silently judge their poor taste and the slowly distance myself from them as friends). In my humble opinion, it’s not even a competition; ‘The Prestige’ wins, hands down.
It does not matter how many times I watch this movie, I never get bored, and the ending 20 minutes and ultimate ‘big reveal’ never fail to give me the shivers. Although it’s based on the book of the same name by Christopher Priest, this is a screenplay so beautifully crafted by Jonathan and Christopher Nolan that I view it almost as a crime that it isn’t hailed as one of the all time cinematic greats. I absolutely love it. The Prestige knocks it out of the park in every single category. The writing is near perfect, and I’ve yet to see something directed by Christopher Nolan which wasn’t visually superb. Jackman as per usual is superb and I’m not one of Christian Bales biggest fans but I absolutely cannot see anyone else taking his place in this movie. The casting, even the supporting cast (quite notably led by Michael Cane) is fantastic.
If you haven’t seen it; go watch it. I doubt you will be disappointed. This should be much higher on the list.