Home > Movies > The Pledge, the Turn and the …

The Pledge, the Turn and the …

Dear all, I have finally decided to enter the world of blogging and here is my first blog post.  I thought of writing something related to movies and it only seems natural that one would like to keep talking about his /her favorite movie.  This post is not a review (because it’s too late in the day for a review) and of course we are not discussing the plot here. This is more of a tribute to one of the best movies ever made by one of the best directors of all times. The Prestige by Christopher Nolan

The movie got released way back in 2006. Two other magic based movies also got released the same year. The Illusionist and Scoop. Incidentally, both Hugh Jackman and Scarlett Johansson were part of Scoop too. To tell the truth, the Prestige trailers didn’t impress me much and even though ‘Christopher Nolan’ did ring a bell (I had seen memento but not Batman Begins), the look and feel of the movie didn’t make for compulsive viewing. Also the excellent cinematography in the film was somehow not coming out in the trailers.  The movie got great reviews, but watching a movie on magicians……no way.

Eventually, I saw the movie in 2008 and man ….was I impressed.  When you adapt a film from a novel, there would be good ones and there would be poor ones and then there is the prestige.  Nolan this time assisted by his brother (Jonathan) has come out with a wonderful screenplay. His non linear style of narration took an entirely new level as the story itself was divided on the basis of the three acts – the pledge, the turn and the prestige.

A small note of caution: Spoilers Ahead.

The movie is about two magicians – Angier (Hugh Jackman) and Borden (Christian Bale) who initially were co-apprentices with another magician. But due to a freak accident in which Angier’s wife gets killed due to Borden’s carelessness, a lifelong battle for one-upmanship ensues.  The new trick brought on by Borden – ‘The transported man’ adds to the drama as Angier is too impressed by the trick and wants to do it himself.

For both the magicians, the PLEDGE – something ordinary were the diaries they were reading. The diaries presented themselves as a simple piece of information about the other magician. Then comes the TURN – the part where each magician comes to know that the other one is trying to talk to him and in a way has outwitted him. In Angier’s case, the fact that Borden had faked the password. In Borden’s case the fact that Angier knew the former would be convicted for the latter’s murder. The ordinary had suddenly become extraordinary and finally for the PRESTIGE – Angier was cloning himself all the while and Borden had a twin.

The movie also shows how an obsession for something would lead you to doom – how a person like Angier who would never get his hands dirty would finally do something as dreadful as that. The audience would have great difficulty in understanding who the protagonist is and who is the antagonist. The character of Cutter (Michael Caine) was instrumental in deciding this. All the while, he was standing by Angier. He felt that Angier had been deprived of his family life by Borden and he would help Angier win the battle. But the moment he came to know that Angier had forcefully taken away Borden’s daughter from him, he took custody of her and returned her to the rightful owner.

The movie also teaches a lesson or two on sacrifice. The way each of the twins was ready to sacrifice half of his life for the sake of the trick was phenomenal. Angier for his part had to sacrifice life itself. Angier also teaches a great lesson on humility. In the end he bluntly accepts that Borden and not he was the better magician. He in spite of being ‘Lord Caldlow’ was brave enough to lead a humble life to pursue his dream of being the greatest magician.

All in all, a great movie – some of the dialogues like ‘no one cares about the man in the box’ just stay with you. The Cinematography was great and the movie got a well deserved Academy award nomination too. Too bad it couldn’t win it. The casting also was really great. Though Bale is British, Jackman, an Australian has been preferred over scores of British actors, probably because of his prior experience in playing a Victorian British character (Kate & Leopold). Michael Caine in the role of Cutter set the tone of the film and time and again made the audience take or change sides.  I kind of totally left out the rivalry between Tesla and Newton which was a parallel track in the film. Maybe, some other time.

Well, keep reading my blog. ….and …..’ARE YOU WATCHING CLOSELY?’

  1. Pratik Prakash
    June 17, 2010 at 8:27 pm

    Welcome to the club, mate! 🙂 In spite of the lukewarm review I gave you, I have to admit this movie’s grown on me as I’ve thought about it more and more(which in itself shows that its a good movie), and I can definitely count it as being one of the better movies I’ve seen. The whole Victorian atmosphere was pretty nice, and so was the acting. But I still cant honestly reconcile myself to the suspense, since I had figured out the twin thing in the middle of the movie! 😐

    PS: Good to see Tesla and the venerable Newton battling each other. Too bad Edison got left behind in the race 😉

  2. Nehal
    June 18, 2010 at 2:41 am


  3. Rishi
    June 18, 2010 at 5:27 pm

    As good as the Prestige is, you should check out Nolan’s “Memento” with Guy Pearce. Now that is one hard film to make. They oversimplified (& ruined) it into Ghajini….

  4. Pratik Prakash
    June 20, 2010 at 10:25 pm

    More reviews aandozz! (Come on, abhi to free time hai, if you dont build your blog right now, you never will 😛 )

    Suggested movie reviews:
    The Dark Knight
    Shawshank Redemption
    The Matrix
    Inglorious Basterds
    Saving Private Ryan
    Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
    The Notebook ( yes, I like it, so what!? 😛 )

    • June 21, 2010 at 10:33 am

      Sure dude. Most of the movies you have listed out here are in my target list already. But as far as Notebook is concerned, i can’t oblige you (I am not planning to watch that one any time in the near future :P).

      And thanks for pointing out the Edison thing. 🙂 Sincere aplogies for the Edison – newton mix up

  5. Smitha Thomas
    June 24, 2010 at 7:13 pm

    Good one ! Although I am not the biggest movie buff, maybe I can use your blog to catch up with some good stuff out there. Btw, are you still watching every movie that’s ever released?

    • June 24, 2010 at 7:43 pm

      Well, I almost watch all movies but the balance is now tilted towards those English films which were left out in the past decade or so

  6. Tharun Viswanathan
    June 25, 2010 at 8:27 pm

    It was real nice to read your review of The Prestige – a movie I had watche when I was in the US in 2008 and a movie I had loved, specifically for the 2 great actors, who were brilliant and also for the whole twist and turns in the movie. Keep up with the blogging!

  7. Gaurav Kadoli
    September 11, 2010 at 2:03 am

    hey gr8 review prashant … this is definitely my fave nolan movie and also one of my all time faves. … apart from all the points u have mentioned in this article, another thing that impressed me a lot were the “intelligent dialogues” used by the characters … my fave ones are as follows:

    1) now u r looking for the secret, but u wont find it … coz of course u r not really looking … u dont wanna know, u want to be fooled — i loved this dialogue coz its directed at the audience of the movie and at the end of the movie we know we have been fooled coz we r not really looking closely …. once the trick of Borden’s transported man was revealed, it became so obvious on hindsight that that was the ONLY realistic/possible explanation (IT WAS SO DAMN OBVIOUS ON HINDSIGHT) ,… but still throughout the movie, we the audience kept looking for the secret but we didnt find it as we had always ignored the theory of twins as being tooo simplistic a solution and hence not feasible …. this dialogue defines most magic tricks as well
    2) The secret impresses no one; its the trick u use it for that impresses everyone
    3) Judge (after looking at robert angier’s machine): i m sure beneath its bells and whistles,
    its got a simple and disappointing trick
    Cutter: the most disappointing of all sir … (after a few silent seconds) … it has no trick,
    its real

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