Saturday, June 02, 2007
Movie Review: THE PRESTIGE
I realize this movie was out awhile ago, but it's screenplay is an example of high suspense, plot twists, and characterization, that make it highly worthwhile seeing from a writer's point of view. Director Christopher Nolan has once again shot a movie rich in it's complexity of twists and turns, as well as exploring the age-old plot of "revenge". The film has a "Count of Monte Cristo" feel to it - it takes place during the same late-Victorian time period, and it's plot is based on the revenge one magician takes upon his former partner. Hugh Jackman & Christopher Bale are the obsessed, paranoid, and selfish anit-heroes who're incapable of forming lasting human relationships in their quest for the perfect "trick" - one that will be the most fantastic trick of all time.
Their search for the ending - "the Prestige" - of this trick is the basis for the Hero's Journey for both characters. And like all self-absorbed "crazed" inventors, they find their quest brings them nothing but self-sacrifice, lonliness, and death.
The movie has a Frankenstein character to it, as well; the main protaganist Angiers, hooks up with inventor Nikolas Tesla, who develops an electrical duplicating machine to give Angiers the leg-up on having the biggest magician's trick of all time. However, the layers of characterization, and plot twists, and the unusual and forbidding ending were what made the movie a "must see" (and probably "must own") for me.
David Bowie makes a cameo role as Nikolas Tesla - the Croatian turned American who invented alternate current devices, and who once worked with Thomas Edison until they parted ways in 1893 because his "alternate-current" inventions were outshining Edison's "direct current" discoveries. It could even be said that Tesla, not Edison, was the father of the light bulb.
If you want to read about the fantastic futuristic inventions Tesla patented, check out NIKOLA TESLA to learn more about how he invented some of the things we now take for granted: microwaves, email, radio telegraphs before Marconi, and how to run 200 lights from 25 feet away without the benefit of electrical lines.
This screenplay adapted from the novel of the same name, makes me wish I had the writer's skill to produce such a brooding, multi-layered drama. If you saw it in the theater, you may want to rewatch it on DVD in order to capture the nuances of the writer's techniques for weaving a tale of partners gone bad, revenge, and the inevitable ending of the karma of producing nothing in your life except destructive actions, over and over and over.