The Prestige

Published: October 22, 2006. Filed under: Misc.

I read the book The Prestige a while back, because it looked really interesting. And it didn’t disappoint; what started out looking like a feud between late-nineteenth-century stage magicians — which would have been cool in its own right — quickly turned into something much deeper and much more involved.

And the movie didn’t disappoint. The particular events it uses to drive the plot are different, but enough of the overall plot is the same, and is presented in a compelling enough manner, to keep it lively. It was also nice to see the duality of both main characters preserved; in the book, as you flip between their points of view, both Borden and Angier have moments where they look sympathetic, and moments where they look like obsessed, cold-hearted monsters. That came through fairly well in the film, which is an impressive achievement.

I’d recommend doing both if you get the chance; yes, in theory the whole thing should be spoiled once you know the secret of Alfred’s trick, but it’s not. In the book, the secret is pretty obvious from early on (largely because you’re reading big sections of Alfred’s journal — and seeing that the journal served a very important purpose in making the whole thing work), and in the movie it shouldn’t be entirely obvious until a little bit later, but in both cases the most interesting thing is not the secret of the trick; it’s the lengths to which Alfred is willing to go to protect the secret, and the lengths to which Angier is willing to go to uncover it. It makes for compelling drama.

Plus, it’s got Scarlett Johansson in it, which is good for the guys, and it’s got Christian Bale and Hugh Jackman in it, which is good for the girls (and did I mention that Hugh Jackman can act? Who knew?). And it’s got David Bowie as — wait for it — Nikola Tesla. Seriously, what more could you want out of an evening’s entertainment?