Tuesday, July 25, 2017

The Prestige

Remember the Christopher Nolan Week line up:
  1. Dunkirk Trailer Reviews and Expectations/Dunkirk Review
  2. Following (1998)
  3. Memento (2000)
  4. Insomnia (2002)
  5. The Prestige (2006) 
  6. The Dark Knight Trilogy
  7. The Dark Knight Trilogy Pt. II
  8. Interstellar (2014)/Inception (2010)
  9. Happy Birthday and Recap
The Prestige is a film by Christopher Nolan and stars Christian Bale, Hugh Jackman and Michael Caine.

With a cast like that, you simply know that this film is going to be amazing, right?  I can tell you unequivocally that it's a fantastic movie, available on Netflix, and ready for you to watch.  Don't read this review please if you haven't seen the movie because you will be very sorry if you get spoiled!


Image result for the prestige movie poster

After Bale's character accidentally causes the death of Hugh's character's wife, Christian Bale's character, Borden, and Hugh Jackman's character, Angier, who are both magicians, try their hardest to steal each other's tricks and outperform each other.  Their antics grow increasingly violent and bleak as the stakes grow higher and their personal lives grow harder.

The story opens with the last couple scenes of the film which really capture the viewer's interest.  How did all of this come about?  What could possible have happened between these two to cause such a circumstance?  It was an excellent choice to open with this ending and really draws the viewer in.

Michael Caine's character explains the three parts of a magic trick: the pledge, where the magician displays a rather benign and ordinary object or person; the turn, where the magician somehow alters the ordinary; and the prestige, where the magician brings the ordinary back.

The entire movie more or less follows this simple trend and cleverly interweaves the plot with these aspects.

Image result for the prestige you're not really looking

The beautiful part of this movie is that the entire movie is laid out for you--the twist ending and all!--but you don't notice and choose to ignore the facts that are obviously right in front of you because as Michael Caine's character says, "you're not really looking; you don't want to know."

This is true: when watching movies we've always been trained to suspend our disbelief and ignore things that don't necessarily what we already think is happening.

Imagine being an audience member watching a magic trick on stage.  They notice something flickering behind the curtain and it looks a little out of place, but they look away.  To know what is actually happening behind the curtain will ruin the trick and amazement for them, so they ignore it.  There shouldn't be any flickering--it doesn't fit with what the magician promised.

Image result for the prestige you're not really looking

Now imagine watching a movie.  You see two shots that don't match up correctly and they have a continuity error.  Instead of looking into this, we've been trained to just say "oh it's just an editing error" or something and you look away because you don't want to ruin your movie experience with this one cut that doesn't fit with what the movie seems to be saying is happening.

Now picture sitting through a two hour movie with...

  1. a character who never says any words and there is no explanation for why this seemingly important character who is Michael Caine's character's parallel never speaks
  2. a wife who can sense a distinct split in personality between her husband and routinely shouts "this isn't you" at him
  3. an opening narration that says "we were two men at the start of a great career"
  4. a magician who dedicates himself to his act by pretending to be something he's not (a cripple) in order to fool his audience whose trick only Borden can figure out for some reason
  5. a man who can't recall what knot he tied inexplicably almost as if he wasn't really there
  6. a recurring trick where a canary is killed and its brother reappears to fool the audience
  7. a seemingly impossible trick where a man transports himself 
  8. a man's wound bleeds later than it is supposed to--almost as if it was a second wound gotten later or something
  9. Michael Caine's character insists that Borden is using a double but no one believes him
  10. a man is hanged but then reappears apparently alive
...and still not catching onto the fact that indeed Borden is a double.  It explains the randomly silent character (Fallon, the other Borden twin), Sarah's clear sense of the days when Borden loves her and when he doesn't (based on which twin she is with), the two men at the start of a great career (the Borden twins), Borden being able to figure out the crippled-magician's trick (because he is similarly dedicated to his trick to the point where it takes up his entire life), Borden not being able to figure out what knot he tied (because the other twin was responsible), the canary which foreshadows the death of one Borden twin while the other Borden reappears, the way that the impossible transporting man trick would be accomplished, the reason that Sarah complains that Borden's wound seems to have reopened (it is the second Borden who has injured himself after the first Borden in order to remain identical), why Michael Caine has been right all along and how Borden reappears after his death.

Do you see how many clues were left throughout this movie?  ALL THE CLUES.

Image result for realization gif

But like Michael Caine says, you're not really looking.  

This movie shows just how similar movies are to magic tricks.  The film distracts us from the clear hints to the twist right before our eyes with beautiful film making, great acting and super editing just as a magic trick on stage might distract us with flashy lights, a beautiful assistant, flamboyant acting, etc.

This is a masterful way of drawing such a comparison and it's a very impressive movie!

Did you catch on to the twist?  Label your comments spoilery if you're going to have a spoiler in it--this movie has such a wonderful twist I want t make sure it stays a secret for anyone who hasn't seen it!

Just like with Memento, I don't really like the movie poster for The Prestige.  I think this fan-made one is way better!

It reflects the two Borden personalities very subtly by showing both birds, one dead and one alive acting as the prestige.  It also includes the tantalizing tagline: "Are you watching closely?"

Image result for the prestige movie poster

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