THE PRESTIGE

REVIEW BY DAVE SMITH

 

I can't remember another year in which two movies were made about magicians. This year we have "The Illusionist" and "The Prestige." Both films have been well received. If you ask which of these is the best film, my vote would have to go to "The Prestige." Christopher Nolan, who did such a masterful job of reinvigorating the "Batman" movie series gives us an intriguing, well made film. The Prestige is based on a novel by Christopher Priest who is an English author with a predisposition for science fiction. And yes, he inserts some sci-fi into this movie.

The story centers around two dueling magicians played by Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale (Batman Begins).They try to top each other without much success until Bale comes up with an illusion he calls, "The Transported Man." It involves Bale stepping through a doorway at one side of the stage and then immediately appearing through a door on the other side of the stage. Try as he might, Jackman can not figure out how it's done.

This leads him to a mysterious inventor Nikola Tesla, played with great panache by David Bowie. Now, Nikola Tesla was a real person and a real inventor who, among other things, developed alternating current. Thomas Edison championed direct current and the two men were great rivals. In the end, Tesla won. Not only did Tesla develop alternating current, he just might have invented radio. In 1943 the Supreme Court ruled that Tesla's patents anticipated Marconi's patents. However Tesla never got full credit for his work and stayed on the mysterious fringes of scientific innovation. In The Prestige Tesla is depicted as being victimized by Edison and inventing a use for electricity that rivals Dr. Frankenstein.

The film borrows illusions from other magicians. "The Vanishing Bird Cage" was one of Harry Blackstone's signature tricks. "The Water Torture" illusion belonged to Harry Houdini. Jackman and Bale are both intense (particularly Jackman) characters who have only one goal in life...to create an illusion that can rightfully be claimed as "The Prestige"...the best of the best.

The Prestige carries you along with it. It's has an intricate plot, is well cast (Oh yes, Michael Caine is excellent as Jackman's mentor/assistant), well directed, has beautiful Victorian age set designs and above all, is entertaining. What more could you ask?

 

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