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The Prestige (2006): You want to be fooled

You’re familiar with the phrase “man’s reach exceeds his grasp”? It’s a lie: man’s grasp exceeds his nerve. 

In the Victorian era London Robert Angier and Alfred Borden start out working for a famous magician. One unfortunate accident starts off a chain of events that spiral out of control. In this game of one-upmanship the increasingly reckless magicians will stop at nothing to defeat each other and anyone getting too close to this rivalry will be annihilated.

The Prestige is a 2006 thriller directed by Christopher Nolan. It was adapted from Christopher Priest’s epistolary novel, The Prestige (1995).

Undoubtedly one of my favourite films ever, The Prestige is the movie that made me a Christopher Nolan fan.

The two main actors Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale, playing Angier and Borden respectively, make the story come alive. I have to say that after repeated viewings Jackman’s performance seems to be the better one. The way Jackman portrays Angier’s growing obsession was amazing to watch.

I loved Michael Caine as John Cutter. His anguish as he helplessly watches the two men destroy each other rang true.

Scarlett Johansson looks beautiful and holds her own in a story that is essentially revolves around the two leading men. David Bowie’s cameo as Nikola Tesla was enjoyable. Piper Perabo shines in her cameo.

It is fascinating how much can be hidden within a single movie. With each watch, and I do mean it when I say it, I discover something new.

One of my favourite Nolan trademarks, the narrative {within narrative (within narrative)} trick is in full play here. Here Borden reads Angier’s diary which tells of Angier reading Borden’s notebook about the time when the two had first met!

The title of this post comes from one of Cutter’s dialogues,

Now you’re looking for the secret… but you won’t find it, because of course you’re not really looking. You don’t really want to know. You want to be fooled.

I guess that is Nolan’s intention with each of his movies. To give the audience a piece of puzzle that would confound them, would make them sit up and take notice. For me that is the fun of a Christopher Nolan movie. The secret that each of his movies hide. I want to know but at the same time I don’t.


I want to be fooled.

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