Movie Review: The Prestige

At first blush, The Prestige looks like an interesting period movie. But you’d be wrong … I think.

Starring Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale as rival magicians in 19th century England. Alfred Borden (Bale) and Rufus Angier (Jackman) start off as friends and partners, but when their best trick ends with the death of Angier’s wife they become bitter enemies.

The first half of the film documents their attempts to out-magician each other. The problem is that while Borden is a better illusionist, Angier is a better showman. As their rivalry heats up it turns into an obsession with dark consequences.

It is in the second half of the film that the steam-punk science-fictional elements start to reveal themselves.

The crux of the rivalry is Borden’s illusion called The Transporting Man. How does he do it? … Angier’s obsession to find out leads him to America where he hires Nikola Tesla (played with interesting reserve and smoldering intensity by David Bowie) to create the machine that does the trick.

But, as with all illusions, things are not what they seem.

The movie is told mostly in flash back, so sometimes you are in the present where Borden is in jail, accused of Angier’s murder. And then, you are transported back … by Borden reading Angier’s journal .. to where Angier is reading Borden’s journal trying to uncover his secret.

Don’t read past this point if you don’t want to know some of the plot secrets. Although the movie may remain enjoyable … don’t tell me I didn’t warn you! Scroll down to the “End of Spoiler Area” to read my review of the film.

The thing is neither journal is genuine. Borden’s journal is a red herring … a way to get Angier out of the country. Tesla never created a machine for Borden.

And Angier’s journal is also fake … he was never killed. Well sort of.

From what I could tell, Tesla created a machine for Angier that creates a duplicate. And in Angier’s trap for Borden, he killed his double every night until Borden is caught at the scene of the crime and accused of murder.

In the end, Borden … who has been using his twin brother all along to help with the illusions … sacrifices his brother to the hangman’s noose and show ups at Angier’s storage area, shooting him dead.


If you’re looking for an action-packed movie, don’t go here. This is a slow moving, intense drama with some fine performances by Jackman and Bale. Michael Caine (one of my favorite actors) brings in an excellent supporting performance as the prop creator for Angier, as well.

Directed by Christopher Nolan, The Prestige has the same dark, heaviness of the his previous film, Batman Begins, which also starred Christian Bale. The thing of it is … the film is somewhat mixed.

Is it a period drama? Or is it a steam-punk story of obsession and betrayal? Maybe it’s both? You kind of have to just sit back and watch it … let the movie flow without analyzation … to figure it out for yourself.

Over all, I enjoyed the film … especially the tell at the end when you discover how Borden had been doing his tricks all along. His secret was dark, profound and pretty darn amazing, although realistic. It is Angier’s secret that leaves you wondering.

For genre travelers, there’s really not many places to go in relation to this film. Most of the movie was shot in studios, although I believe that some of the exteriors for Colorado Springs were actually shot there. But here are few interesting locations to check out if you’re in the area:

  • The electric light fields were shot at Mount Wilson, Calif.
  • The Royal Albert Hall scenes were shot in the Park Plaza Hotel, 607 S. Park View Street, Los Angeles, Calif.
  • The funeral scene for Angier’s wife was shot at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery, 6000 Santa Monica Blvd., Hollywood, Los Angeles, Calif.

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About the author

As The Genre Traveler, Carma Spence loves to view the world through Genre-Coloured glasses. In other words, she sees the world through a lens of science fiction, fantasy, and horror, where trash cans can be Daleks in disguise and neighborhood forests can harbor faeries and sprites. Magic realism is real! Or at least you can choose to see the world that way to add to the fun and awe of life.