The Prestige

The Prestige
Last weekend the Snook and I finally caught a showing of The Prestige. I’d seen glowing reviews from both Andrew and Kevin, but thankfully I managed to avoid the temptation to spoil myself. And yeah, it’s definitely a film that you should see cold. We really enjoyed it! While we both figured out Angier’s trick pretty quickly, I didn’t work out Borden’s at all. (The Snook claims he did.) Afterwards I went back to read the reviews, and I was intrigued by Kevin’s reference to a “deliriously creepy” ending to the original book that was missing from the film. So I headed to Kinokuniya on Tuesday to pick up a copy. I was surprised at how different it was from the movie. Most of the big plot points are still there, but the structure and effect are completely different. I thought it gave a much better insight into the character of the two magicians, and I came away feeling much more ambivalent over who was the hero and who was the villain. (I think the movie suffers a little bit in this regard because of Hugh Jackman’s star power; you can’t help but think of him as the “main” character.) And the ending? SO FREAKING CREEPY. I read it last night at, like, 1 a.m. and then it took me ages to get to sleep. (Thanks for that, Kev!) I do have a few questions about that ending though. Needless to say, DON’T READ ANY FURTHER if you have any intention of reading the book. (Or seeing the movie, though it doesn’t really have much to do with it.)Okay, so WraithAngier was going to go through the machine and aim himself at DeadAngier. He was hoping it would either kill him or bring him back to life. What actually happened? Is the super creepy still-alive Angier at the end actually the CombinedAngier (somehow given eternal life) or is it just WraithAngier, who never bonded with DeadAngier (and somehow has eternal life)?

Beyond that – okay, so the descendent of Angier threw the little boy into the machine and he “died”. How did the “prestige materials” end up in the tomb? Did somebody carry him in there? And where did the living little boy end up? Was the machine still calibrated to send him into Angier’s coffin? Doesn’t that mean the little boy ended up in the freaking tomb? And wouldn’t you think he’d remember that?

Lastly – the business with the index card is ridiculous, right? They make a point of saying that it’s the same handwriting as all the others’ (i.e. Angier’s). So how did UndeadAngier know who the hell the kid was to write the card? Did his descendants come down there and tell him? Did they KNOW that their undead grandpa was still hanging around the family tomb? And where did he get a goddamn pen?

So many plot holes… yet still, SO FREAKING SCARY.

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    The Mister and I just caught The Prestige last night ourselves (second run theater = $2.50 per ticket. Woo!). I agree that Angier’s trick wasn’t all that much of a shock, but I was wondering just who was it that fell through the trapdoor and who made it to the reveal each night? And if the original is the one that gets transported, didn’t he get shot when the machine was first tested?

    Also, what is the likelihood that feeding Angier a red herring would actually lead him to discover something like the machine? Speaking of, I got a little confused at the climax of the first diary–was Borden relying on Olivia’s love for him or Angier WRT her giving Angier his notebook?

    Finally, was Michael Caine working for Borden all along?

    Looks like I’m going to have to read the book!

  2. Heh. The book won’t answer *any* of those questions, B. They’re all bits that are slightly different.

    I think at one point Hugh Jackman says it was so hard to get into the machine every night, not knowing whether he’d be the one in the box or the one that gets transported. That makes me think that either it’s random, or that since the machine makes an *exact* copy – down to your memories – than it doesn’t matter. They were both exactly him. (And in the book there isn’t the drowning thing anyway; the one that stays in the machine pretty much dies instantly.)

    Michael Caine’s character is in the book for all of about two seconds, and he doesn’t really play any part. My feeling is that he wasn’t working for Borden, but that when Hugh revealed himself to be alive and that he was willing to let Borden be hung for a crime he didn’t commit, Cutter didn’t care anymore. So when he passed Borden going into the theater, if he recognized him at all he must have realized it was the twin and what was going to happen. So I think he went back to the workshop… which is where Borden had left the little girl, and that’s where Cutter tells her about magic. I think.

    In the book, it’s a little more clear that Olivia really does fall for Borden completely and leave Angier. And it’s her idea to go to Borden, not Angier’s. I think she was totally in on the plan to give him the diary, especially since it was useless. And even when Angier managed to decode it, it still never gives away the secret of the Transported Man.

  3. Glad to hear you liked the movie and the book. 🙂 To be honest, I don’t remember more than vague, horrific impressions of the ending, so I can’t comment on your questions — Perhaps I’ll pick it up again. My feeling was that the Angier at the end was a Combined Angier, but one not Combined very well (or he wouldn’t be lurking around a tomb.) So he’d inadvertently become something much worse than he was before, some kind of festering zombie.

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