The Prestige (2006)

the prestige poster 2006 movie christopher nolan
8.0 Overall Score
Story: 8/10
Acting: 8/10
Visuals: 8/10

Fun film, David Bowie cameo, twist

Fantasy element overrides illusion storyline

Movie Info

Movie Name:   The Prestige

Studio:   Touchstone Pictures

Genre(s):   Drama/Sci-Fi/Fantasy

Release Date(s):   October 20, 2006

MPAA Rating:   PG-13

prestige bullet trick christian bale

The Dark Knight Waits

Magicians Robert Angier (Hugh Jackman) and Alfred Borden (Christian Bale) find their fates intertwined through a tragic accident when an illusion goes wrong.  Robert and Alfred’s competition begins to turn dark as each seeks out each other’s secret.  With a magician assistant named Olivia Wenscombe (Scarlett Johansson) and a trusted stagehand named John Cutter (Michael Caine) caught in the middle.  The competition is going to turn deadly and secrets will be revealed!

Written and directed by Christopher Nolan (with additional screenplay writing by Nolan’s brother Jonathan Nolan), The Prestige is a fantasy period drama.  Following Batman Begins from 2005, the movie adapts the 1995 Christopher Priest novel of the same title and was well received by critics.  The film was nominated for Academy Awards for Best Cinematography and Best Art Direction.

The Prestige was part of a “magician boom”.  The movie was joined by The Illusionist and Woody Allen’s Scoop.  I really wanted a follow-up to Batman Begins, and I’m not a fan of magic.  I like Nolan…and Nolan didn’t let me down.  Due to the plot of the movie, a *******spoiler alert******* is in effect for the rest of the review.

prestige light field hugh jackman andy serkis

Science meets magic

The movie is primarily built around a twist which also ties back into the title and the idea of a prestige in a magic “trick”.  It tells the story of two magicians strive for fame (through competition) similar to the structure set up in Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead (and also similarity to Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke).  You have two different magicians taking two different approaches.  Alfred Borden has the long play with a hidden twin used to pull off impossible illusions and Robert Angier takes the simpler route through impossible science to pull off the same illusion.

Christian Bale is the more solemn and less showy of the two but potentially hiding the bigger secret.  Hugh Jackman brings his stage presence to his character who is all about the show.  Both Michael Caine and Scarlett Johannson both are a bit underused in the story along with Rebecca Hall as Bale’s wife.  Real illusionist and actor Ricky Jay appears as a stage magician in the film and the movie has a non-special effects appearance by Andy Serkis.  The movie also boasts a fun cameo by David Bowie and the cult figure Nikola Tesla.

prestige david bowie nikola tesla

Now I will battle the Spiders from Mars!!!

Nolan often uses a lot of visuals with his films.  The Prestige is a bit limited since it is a period piece, but the addition of Nikola Tesla brings an element of fantasy to the script.  The result is some fun lightning effects and a great visual of a field of light bulbs…it is very surreal and imaginative.

The Prestige is a movie that benefits from being seen twice.  I actually figured out the twist of the movie (Bale’s portion) from the scene with the Chinese performer, but it didn’t hurt the movie.  I do wish the movie was practical.  The introduction of the fantasy element of the script takes away from the realism (and the completely crazy Bale is living his life (or lives)).  Nolan returned to Batman films with Bale and The Dark Knight in 2008.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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