Skip to main content

The Prestige

Last year two films came out about competing magicians in the 1800's. How strange is that? We obviously watched the one above tonight. Annoyingly because we both shuffle the Netflix list we are getting The Illusionist tomorrow. I really didn't plan to watch them back to back. That said, this movie blew my socks off. Unfortunately, it's like Children of Men. I don't know how to talk about it without spoilers. It is a slow, beautiful, horrifying movie, wandering through different times fluidly and effortlessly as in Christopher Nolan's earlier Memento. And like Memento, it explores the problems with obsession and manipulation (I like finding through lines in director's work). Like Memento the time twists are essential to the response of the audience. They are not arbitrary or unnecessary. I know that it's possible to watch Memento "in order" but I cannot think that the impact would be the same. I will say this: this film and it's final twist frightened me more than any film I can think of in recent memory without gore or monsters (except the human one). I actually felt sick afterwards. What it reminded me of most strongly was reading one of the "greats" of horror, M.R. James or Lord Dunsany, perhaps Lovecraft, but Lovecraft slides into BEM's (Bug Eyed Monsters) too much while James and Dunsany are masters at the art of suggestion.

What I can say is that the acting is superb. I've been a fan of Christian Bale since Empire of the Sun but I believe he was almost overshadowed by Hugh Jackman in this. Jackman's darkness is subtle but profound. I'm not giving anything away by saying that he plays a double role brilliantly. Supporting cast of Michael Caine, Andy Serkis and David Bowie (as Tesla?). I even thought Scarlett Johannsson was tolerable in this. This one will stay with me for a long time. I cannot think that The Illusionist will compare.

Comments

YS said…
Another Fan of The Prestige!

I really liked the film. Although the ending didn't quite get me as it did you.

It had a little too much of the Scooby Doo-let-us-outline-everything-for-you feel to it in that last scene.

The concept was great and the structure of the piece was great, but as the ending unfolded I was whispering, "No, No, No, you were so close."

Probably worked better in the novel.

With regards to The Illusionist, I would agree with Stanley Kauffman: There isn't much beyond a great story in the The Illusionist, but sometimes that is all you need.
Novel said…
I'm definitely curious about the novel as well. I can understand what you mean about the ending, but it still worked for me. At what point did you start to think it was going wrong?

Popular posts from this blog

Driving in Boston

Inching along in a log jam of traffic yesterday on the Mass Pike I watched an Audi a few cars in front of me weave in and out of traffic determined to find the lane that was "moving" and yet for the whole half an hour that we sat there he ended up still only a few cars ahead of me. Sure there were times his lane pulled ahead, but then mine would catch up and he would switch back. The only thing he accomplished was to make the line that much slower. There was a great article that a friend sent me years ago on the physics of traffic and it has been determined that weaving in and out of tight traffic will really gain you nothing and in fact cause the very blockages that you believe you are defying. (Sidenote--an unfortunately side effect of so much of interest on the internet is that it is impossible to store all of the articles that interest you over the years in the vague belief that you will someday want to reference them to others) The article also pointed out that if all d…

Adapting a book--The Prestige

I was completely blown away by the movie of The Prestige, and I thought then about reading the novel, but it seemed too soon. So I carried the author's name around with me for over a year (Christopher Priest) and then, finally remembered to buy it through an odd sequence of events. We watched The Painted Veil based on the novel by Maugham starring Edward Norton, and while I decided I didn't want to read The Painted Veil because of it's differences from the film (which was more romantic and tragic) it reminded me that I had wanted to read Fight Club (the movie version of which starred Edward Norton) and that reminded me that I had wanted to read The Prestige (which did not star Edward Norton, but was up against The Illusionist which did). Whew...so it's all Edward Norton's fault.

The Prestige is a very good novel, and yet, the movie differs from it considerably. And I am still trying to figure out what exactly that means. The central premise is the same, AND HER…

The end of Cloud Atlas

Feel I must write this--promised it to myself, can I finish before midnight (when I said I would go to bed at 11)?

Where was I?

Oh, yes, section 5, where it gets interesting--because it's the future, at least 25 years, hopefully more. I say hopefully, because I don't want to be living in this future. The section is called "An Orison of Sonmi-451." An Orison (I had to look it up, proving I don't remember my Shakespeare) is a prayer, but in this future world where language has taken as many turns as in Orwell's 1984, it is more a confession or final statement. Sonmi-451 is a clone (as the name might suggest). The section is not entirely original. It owes much to Brave New World and Phillip K. Dick's Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (made into the film Bladerunner). I find it interesting that 40 or so years ago--when Dick wrote his book he believed that future slaves would be Androids, replicants. Now we are much more likely to presume they will be clones,…