The Prestige (2006)

Day: January 8th, Movie: 8

Personally, I have not been a big fan of Christopher Nolan’s work. Outside of The Dark Knight, Batman Begins and Memento, I have found his films to be overrated and disappointing. I had never seen The Prestige before and when it popped up on some sci-fi lists, I thought the Genre-ary Sci-Fi DailyView would be the perfect opportunity to put this film in the watched column.

However, looking at the synopsis, it did not seem like much of a sci-fi film. The entry on Wikipedia called it “science fantasy” so I was unsure if it actually would qualify for the Genre-ary. However, after watching it, I absolutely believe that a major section of the film fell into the category of sci-fi and would work perfectly well in this category.

According to IMDB, “In the end of the nineteenth century, in London, Robert Angier (Hugh Jackman), his beloved wife Julia McCullough (Piper Perabo), and Alfred Borden (Christian Bale) are friends and assistants of a magician. When Julia accidentally dies during a performance, Robert blames Alfred for her death, and they become enemies. Both become famous and rival magicians, sabotaging the performance of the other on the stage. When Alfred performs a successful trick, Robert becomes obsessed trying to disclose the secret of his competitor with tragic consequences.”

The world of magic set in this period piece was already intriguing enough, but the film added several key moments. Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale are fantastic in their co-lead, both as magicians going back and forth with their mind games and manipulations. The cast also included the always wonderful Michael Caine, the beautiful Scarlett Johansson, the excellent Rebecca Hall, rocker David Bowie as Tesla, Tesla’s assistant Andy Serkis, as well as Daniel Davis, Roger Rees, Jim Piddock, Ricky Jay, W. Morgan Sheppard and Samantha Mahurin.

The story had about as many twists as one would expect when dealing with magicians. It was a film that required you to pay attention as it was told in a non-linear way and it blended together masterfully. One of the strengths of Christopher Nolan is the structure of the story being told. Everything works very well together and looking at it as a whole, the structure kept the audience guessing about what was happening.

The film had a great look and some excellent costumes, fitting right in at the end of the 19th century. The film did receive Academy Award nominations for Best Cinematography and Best Art Direction.

The science fiction aspect of The Prestige came into being thanks to the use of real life scientist/inventor Nikola Tesla, played spot on by David Bowie. The technology used in the film was not possible (at least at this time) and was a huge risk for the film. It took this chance in a basically realistic story and it could have messed it all up. For example, I had been enjoying Interstellar until the third act where the flip ruined it all for me. This surprise in The Prestige did not throw me off course and I think fit nicely in with the magic.

This film moves up to around the top of my personal Nolan film favorite list. It was well acted and kept the audience guessing with what was going on with an original style of storytelling.

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