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The Pledge, the Turn and the …

June 17, 2010 9 comments

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?’

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