18 November 2006

The Prestige

The Prestige (2006), directed by Christopher Nolan, starring Hugh Jackman, Christian Bale, Michael Caine

I don’t have too much to say because to say too much would give away too much. I will say that I’m finding it difficult to write about this film without referring to The Illusionist. When two films with so much in common, and yet in some ways with so little in common, are released so closely together, one can’t help comparing them.

The Prestige is the story of ambition gone wrong, revenge, and the inevitable moral descent caused by obsession and overweening pride - a cautionary tale, wherein the wages of sin is death. The Illusionist is the story of a man trying desperately to make a life for himself against all odds and what happens to him on that journey.

I wasn’t that drawn into the characters of The Prestige when all was said and done. At first, I felt a certain sympathy for them, but it disappeared like a bird in a cage during a magic trick. I also saw through some of the plot twists and wasn’t as terribly surprised by the ending as I was supposed to be.

The Illusionist had much much more heart and it was easier to become engaged with and care about the characters. I also fell for the illusion, only coming to understand what had really happened as one of the characters figured it out.

Of the two, I enjoyed The Illusionist more, but found both to be thought-provoking. If you’re only planning on watching one film about 19th century magicians, see The Illusionist. If you want to watch both, watch The Prestige first, saving the better for last.

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