Chatman and “The Prestige”

First of all, this was my first time watching this film and I must say that I thought it was pretty amazing.  Christopher Nolan never ceases to amaze me as I am continually impressed with his films (from the Batmans to Momento to The Prestige). I just looked it up and can’t find what he’s currently working on, but I can’t wait for it to come out.

I think part of the reason why he is such an impressive filmmaker is because of the intertwined plot lines that mangle the viewers sense of time.  I think the Batman films are the only two that have a syuzhet that starts at a certain time and then continues chronologically as the story unfolds.  Both Momento and The Prestige have flashbacks and ellipses that carry the viewer backwards and forwards within the story world.  I think this is a very impressive feat that is very hard to pull off, but when it is done effectively as Christopher Nolan has done, it functions to both make the film more interesting in terms of continually keeping the viewer thinking and hypothesizing, as well as to make the ending more exciting and dramatic when we figure everything out and the final story is revealed– the prestige.

One of the main discussions we had in class today was whether or not we think this film is honest with us as it’s final trick is to use real magic.  I personally didn’t have any problem with this when I watched the film.  In fact, I didn’t even think about the fact that this machine was that much different than the magic tricks that we were watching.  I think the main reason for my non-critical view is twofold–1) because the film had previously established that there existed real magic and wizards, and that I then immediately began to think that the first magician to get ahold of some “real magic” would then be able to win the contention.  Secondly, it worked because we were able to see the trick– we know how the machine functioned and nothing about it was hidden to us that other characters knew.  In other words, Tangier didn’t know anything more about the magic trick than we did, therefore he was completely honest with us.  The only thing that bothered me was the fact that he had to keep killing himself and have his clone live on, sense the clone was the one that was transported.

One other little thought that I wanted to share was my skepticism of the idea of a narratee.  I don’t believe that every story needs to have someone to hear it, or how this differs really from an implied reader.  I guess during parts of The Prestige you could claim that the girl was the narratee, but she wasn’t for the whole film and I don’t know who it would be for the rest of the film.  Basically, i just don’t know how to differentiate between the intended reader and the narratee.  What if someone is telling a personal daydream or talking to themselves?  Why does the narrator or system of narration have to have a specific listener in mind?

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