Prestige

October 24, 2008 | 2 Comments


Click on David Bowie’s Mugshot or the play button for a link to “After All, my favorite Bowie song.

Leslie, I’m sorry Nolan is unbelievably wrong about Tesla…but you gotta enjoy yourself at the movies…pretend a little bit. “Wouldn’t it be cool if the world were like this…”

I Loved The Prestige…much more than The Illusionist; it seemed to be more focused on magic and illusions than Edward Norton’s film. I don’t mind the Hollywood trend of releasing two very similar films in quick succession (Deep Impact/Armageddon, A Bug’s Life/Ants, etc.). Having two films about the same subject gives an audience a binary choice to decide which is better and more successful.

As for the debate we were having last class concerning the use of “real magic” or “fringe science” as a deus ex machina or weak/unexpected plot device…I believe several things:

a) The cloning device isn’t really the most important part of the ending…I believe the Borden/Fallon switch is the film’s final prestige and true trick. Also, I like how Professor Mittell mentioned how the film condemns Angier’s need to resort to a machine or trick to pull off a magic trick…in the end, Borden is painted as the film’s true magician and I believe this answers the question of who is the real protagonist (more on that later).

b) I don’t think the use of the supernatural or fringe science is inconsistent with the atmosphere/aesthetic of the film nor does it come out of nowhere. I think the mad scientist living in solitude on a blustery mountaintop harnessing inexplicable natural phenomena or anomalies fits perfectly into the film’s 19th century illusionist atmosphere. I think something like an electrical cloning device would be believable if you put yourself in that sort of storyworld where so much was still unknown and science was more magical (I mean…electricity was considered a pretty magical thing initially). And, as we mentioned in class, clues such as the hats at the beginning of the film (and Bowie saying the machine worked when the hat just remained there), Cutter’s speech, Angier’s fear of the device, etc. all serve to foreshadow the “magical” and trick-free nature of the machine.

Anyone played Command and Conquer in a while?

So…who’s the protagonist? Angier seems an easy early pick, having lost a wife to Borden’s supposed negligence or insolence, quest to discover how Borden pulls off his impossible trick, and journey to find the ultimate trick. However, he definitely goes too far in his obsessions and comes across as both a weak magician (unwilling to get his hands dirty the same way Borden does), and a vengeful individual. You can definitely argue the film has two protagonists, ambiguous protagonists, or a switch in protagonist as the viewer slowly begins to ally themselves with Borden, but I think in the end, the Borden/Fallon duo are the film’s true protagonist(s?). The love interest (Scarlett Johansen) abandons Angier for him, he gets the upper hand in the end of the film, he’s wrongfully imprisoned and killed, and his talented magic trick and sacrifice is the film’s true prestige.


Comments

2 Comments so far

  1. Aaron Smith’s Response Journal » The Presige’s Protagonist: Borden vs. Angier on October 25, 2008 1:48 pm

    […] and Andrew agree that The Prestige’s protagonist is Borden, since he is a more sympathetic character and […]

  2. Brett’s Class Blog » Blog Archive » arguing about protagonists on October 25, 2008 9:49 pm

    […] for protagonist of The Prestige are Borden and Angier.  I’m going to have to side with Andrew and Jared and choose Borden, largely because of the sympathy factor.  While Angier drives the […]

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