Monday, 28 September 2020
The Prestige
Written by Sandra Fitzpatrick   
Tuesday, 24 October 2006 21:31

The Prestige is Movie Making Magic

“Every great magic trick consists of three acts”, explains Michael Caine in The Prestige. “The first act is called The Pledge; in which the magician shows you something ordinary, but of course… it probably isn’t. The second act is called The Turn; the magician makes his ordinary something do something extraordinary… there’s a third act called The Prestige; this is the part with the twists and turns, where lives hang in the balance, and you see something shocking you’ve never seen before.”

I’ve quoted these lines directly from The Prestige because it is the perfect synopsis not only of a magic trick, but the movie itself.

The story centers on two young magicians who, when the movie begins, are at the start of promising careers. Rupert Angier (Hugh Jackman) is a levelheaded showman who likes to do things by the book. Alfred Borden (Christian Bale) prefers putting his own spin on things, a trait which gets him into trouble more often than not. When Rupert’s wife is killed in a mishap during the act, the two magicians are propelled into a lifelong rivalry that will consume them.

Along the way we are treated to a series of twists and turns that are cleverly disguised until the time comes to reveal all. Rupert nearly goes insane trying to decipher the secret to his rival’s greatest trick “The Transported Man”, and in doing so unknowingly stumbles upon something that could be true magic. By the end of the film both men will have made some very powerful discoveries about themselves and each other.

It seems that Victorian era magician movies are in fashion this season since The Prestige is hot on the heels of another brilliant movie called The Illusionist. But these films have more in common than subject matter. Both feature beautiful settings and flawless special effects; cunningly crafted scripts; and best of all they both stayed in my mind long after I left the theatre. The Prestige is a movie that makes you think, and by that I mean that it is still making me think even though I saw it three days ago!

The performances are flawless on the part of both main characters and supporting cast. I can’t imagine anyone other than Jackman and Bale playing the lead roles, as both of them made the characters their own. I’m so glad to finally see Hugh Jackman in a role that showcases what a great actor he is. There was a lot of potential shown by him as Wolverine in X-Men but he needed a stronger role to make people take him seriously. The films that followed such as Kate and Leopold or Swordfish did nothing to improve his star caliber, until he starred on Broadway in The Boy from Oz. Next we’ll se him in The Fountain, which is already receiving critical praise.

Christian Bale has always been, in my opinion, one of the most talented young actors around today. To check out some of his promising earlier work try renting Swing Kids (1993), Little Women (1994), or the movie that propelled him into “Leading Man” status American Psycho. The latter was perhaps not the greatest film, but he was absolutely great in it.

The Prestige’s supporting cast includes the amazing talents of Michael Caine, Scarlett Johansson, Andy Serkis and even David Bowie to name a few. Bowie plays the famed inventor Nikola Tesla, whose experiments with electricity become a critical part of this film. Incidentally, the Capitol Theatre recently featured a play entitled Brilliant – The Blinding Enlightenment of Nikola Tesla. Talk about perfect timing to coincide with the release of this film!

I honestly can find very little, if any, fault with this movie. I enjoyed every minute from beginning to end and found myself involved and intrigued. Some of the solutions seemed a little forced, but I was so caught up in the magic I hardly noticed. I give The Prestige 9 out of 10.