“If you want to make a documentary you should automatically go to the fiction, and if you want to nourish your fiction you have to come back to reality.”
Jean-Luc Godard

Sunday, March 4, 2012

The Prestige (2006): British filmmaker Christopher Nolan's bewitching tale of passion and obsession

A Potpourri of Vestiges Review

By Murtaza Ali

Featured in IMDb Critic Reviews

the prestige, christian bale, hugh jackman, directed by christopher nolan
The Prestige (2006) By Christopher Nolan
Our Rating: 9.5
IMDb Ratings: 8.5
Genre: Drama | Mystery | Thriller
CastChristian Bale, Hugh Jackman and Scarlett Johansson
Country: USA | UK
Language: English
Runtime: 130 min
ColorColor



The Prestige, adapted from an award winning novel of the same name by Christopher Priest, is an intricate tale of passion, intrigue, deceit and obsession about two illusionists, whose morbid obsession for absolute supremacy in their profession engenders a fierce rivalry that turns internecine and ultimately consumes them. The Prestige is the fifth movie directed by British  movie-maker, Christopher Nolan. The Prestige served to be a worthy addition to Nolan's decorated oeuvre that already included works like Memento (2000), Insomnia (2002), and Batman Begins (2005) and further went on to add masterful works like The Dark Knight (2008), and Inception (2010). The Prestige revolves around the lives of two highly ambitious Illusionists, Alfred Borden (Christian Bale) and Robert Angier (Hugh Jackman), both of whom at the start of their careers assist an elderly illusionist named Milton. Borden's incessant longing for innovation leads to the accidental death of Angier's wife. Borden marries Sarah and his apparent happiness further aggravates the sense of revulsion in Angier's heart. Angier's vindictive intervention during a bullet catch trick causes Borden to lose his two fingers. 


Christian Bale and Hugh Jackman in The Prestige
Christian Bale and Hugh Jackman in The Prestige
Angier starts performing with the sobriquet "The Great Danton" with Cutter (Michael Caine) as his illusion engineer, while Borden with the stage name "The Professor" with Fellon as his engineer. Angier is an adept showman, but lacks the technical prowess. On the contrary, Borden is highly skillful, but lacks the taste for grandeur and showmanship. Each regards the other as his only obstacle (owing to their bitterly intertwined past), and this starts a series of events in which each tries to stymie the other by any means possible: sabotage, abduction, incrimination and even killings. Awed by the apparent genuineness of Borden's version of "The Transported Man", and inveigled by Borden's deliberate misdirection, Angier travels miles and spends a fortune to approach an ingenious scientist named Nikola Tesla (David Bowie) in order to convince him build a machine for him (a machine that could help him outperform Borden). 


David Bowie as Nicola Tesla, the prestige, christopher nolan
David Bowie as Nicola Tesla (centre)
Nikola Tesla is an apostle of Alternating Current (and rightly thinks it to be superior to Direct Current), and is hiding from Thomas Edison (ruthless propagator of Direct Current) and his men, who are after him. As Edison's men close in on him, Tesla runs out of time as well as funds for his research and is forced to oblige Angier, who is his very last client. Tesla flees the scene shortly after fulfilling his promise to Angier, whose ever increasing skepticism for Tesla is placated by the marvel of his masterful invention. Using Tesla's machine, Angier introduces his own version of "The Transported Man", which becomes an instant success, but in lieu of a terrible self-sacrifice (that Angier has to make every night while performing). 


Scarlet Johansson as Olivia, hugg jackman as robert angier, the prestige
Scarlet Johansson as Olivia (left)
As the story approaches its climax the viewer is startled with many revelations that highlight the constant mental and physical torments that both Angier and Borden undergo owing to their total devotion towards their art. The success of an act of illusion solely depends upon the deftness with which the following three parts are performed: the Pledge, the Turn, and the Prestige. Similarly, for a movie to be a success, the screenplay, direction, and acting are ought to be top-notch. Christopher Nolan incredibly manages to strike all the right cords with The Prestige. His riveting maneuvering aggrandizes the brilliance of The Prestige ten-fold. Nolan succeeds in having a dream assemblage of actors with everyone giving a memorable performance. 


the prestige, christopher nolan
A Still from The Prestige
Christian Bale and Hugh Jackman are superb in their lead roles. Michael Caine shines in his low-key portrayal of Cutter, an ordinary part made to appear extraordinary through sheer brilliance; vintage Caine. David Bowie as Nikola Tesla and Andy Serkis (Gollum of LOTR) as Alley (Tesla's assistant) are stupendous in their cameos. Scarlet Johansson also manages to give a scintillating portrayal as Borden's paramour, Olivia. The Prestige is a roller-coaster of a ride with intriguingly intertwined subplots and masterful time switching, which makes it one of a kind and an ultimate masterpiece. The uncanny feat of Nolan to manifest a motion picture, which crosses genres foraying into the realms of Mystery, Thrill, Sci-fi and Fantasy is truly exemplary. 


christian bale as alfred borden, The Transported Man, the prestige
Borden performing The Transported Man
The Prestige is a tapestry of twists and turns, which evinces its overwhelming potential to bewitch the masses and satiate even the most esoteric viewers. The questions that it incessantly asks of the viewers can only be answered after repetitive viewings, with each viewing seeking utmost attention of the viewer. The only question that I would ask of the viewer is: "Are you watching closely?" The Prestige is must watch for anyone, who is not averse to giving his mind a rigorous exercise and his body an adrenaline rush.


Readers, please feel free to share your opinion by leaving your comments. As always your feedback is highly appreciated!  

For more information on the title, please click on the following links:



The Prestige Trailer




10 comments :

  1. wow....nice
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  3. A Marvelous review. Someone spoiled the ending for me, so i was a bit skeptical to watch the movie. Then, I watched it recently just to finish watching all of Nolan movies. Wow, what a movie-viewing experience that was. Even if u know the ending, the movie keeps you intrigued with its complex narrative and excellent dialogues.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Superb movie and nice review:).

    ReplyDelete
  5. I wrote a post on Nolan's work and I hold The Prestige in the highest regard. You can view my thoughts on it here http://wdatc.blogspot.com/2013/09/my-journey-through-film-complete-works.html

    ReplyDelete
  6. Well, I too like it very much... this, for me, is Nolan's crowning jewel. The novel by Christopher Priest, on which it is based, is equally brilliant, if not more. And thanks a lot for sharing the link.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Great Review Murtaza, not really contained spoilers but somehow I found that you gave away too much of the plot, but then of course many of us have already watched "the prestige"..


    Amritt R
    http://thebiggestmovieblog.blogspot.in

    ReplyDelete

Thanks for sharing for valuable opinion. We would be delighted to have you back.

 

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