I recently learned (decided?) that Christopher Nolan is my favorite movie director of the current generation. Kudos to the help in this area and friendship in all areas of my dear Charissa, the knower of all things film.
In The Prestige two magicians (Christian Bale, Hugh Jackman) battle their entire lives/professional careers (these two terms become interchangeable concepts for both individuals, a powerful motif) for status and success in their craft. We learn the inner workings of magic – how the “prestige” is the part of a trick where the impossible draws gasps from the crowd. For example, when the disappeared returns to an empty stage, or soaking wet from inside a locked water tank. The audience doesn’t clap after the “turn”, because anyone can disappear. But coming back is the impressive part, the secret that the audience struggles to figure out, the secret that the magician takes to his grave. Every monologue about magic is also, cleverly, about this dark personal battle between these two magicians.
The movie is crafted in such a way that the viewer is immediately let in near the end of the story for just a split-second and then taken back to the beginning to learn of how these magicians began their lifelong tango with one another. The entire journey is of the putting-the-pieces-together variety: my all-time favorite. We follow the story through narratives from each man’s journal, pursuits of more impressive tricks, and the final pursuit of the “Transported Man”, the last trick that ends this epic struggle.
Nolan crafts his characters with the depth of their personal struggle; he sews them so tightly into this period piece that we don’t think for a second that this magician could be the Batman from Gotham City or Wolverine from the X-Men. They have always, and ever will be from start to finish of this film, dueling magicians. We believe the words they say, we’re shocked at the lies that are uncovered, we gasp audibly when we realize the implications of the truths revealed.
My bias is obvious, but the film won’t lie. Nolan has done it again. He’s created an artistically beautiful, intellectually challenging, and creatively ground-breaking work. Top 5. Inception hits theatres this summer.