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Movie review : Moon

September 23, 2010 Leave a comment

The moon has been an object of fascination for human beings since time unknown. So near, but yet so far. So beautiful but yet full of craters. So barren, but yet so resourceful. Resourceful? Indeed, the moon has millions of tones of Helium-3 embedded in the soil blown in by lunar winds. Helium-3 is one of the potential raw materials for a nuclear fusion reaction. With natural resources on earth fast dwindling and nuclear energy fast picking up popularity, helium-3 harvesting is one of the best available options available.

The moon has been a part of almost all ancient cultures and has had an important role to play in the calendars, poetry, mythological stories and also deity worshipping. In the past century, after the advent of feature films, outer space has gained great importance and films like 2001: A space odyssey, Solaris and Alien have been hugely popular. The post is about the 2009 film MOON, a British sci-fi film starring Sam Rockwell. The film has been chosen over scores of other sci-fi films simply because it shows both advantages and moral hazards of modern technology.

The film revolves around a single character Sam Bell (Sam Rockwell) who is stationed at moon whose main responsibility is to send helium-3 canisters to earth in a space module. His 3 year contract at moon is nearing its end. The process of helium harvesting is almost fully automated and Sam has a robotic assistant GERTY to help him with his day to day activities. He is in constant touch with his wife and (now almost 3-year old) daughter. One day while going for his regular round of Helium harvesting, he meets with an accident and while he is recovering, he is not allowed to venture outside by GERTY. But realizing that there was something fishy, Sam tricks GERTY and somehow goes out of the Lunar base and finds a look alike of him injured in an accident. The audience is made to realize at this moment that the Sam recovering right now is someone else and the one injured in the accident has never been rescued. The new Sam seems to realize gradually that all of them could be clones. But it becomes quite difficult for the original Sam to come to terms with the truth. The rest of the film is about how the two Sams take control of the situation and how they fight back.

The film is a technological marvel. Though the film does not reveal much about when the story is taking place, it can be reasonably assumed that it is set somewhere in 2050s. Let us start with the idea of ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE. The robot GERTY (voiced by Kevin Spacey) is highly intelligent and can converse with Sam on any topic under the sun. Not only that, it can also show emotions. Though it has a monotonous voice, it has a graphical display to show smileys by which it is able to communicate a number of feelings with Sam. The film also shows that GERTY has been programmed to take good care of Sam; it is not reluctant to take Sam’s life whenever required. Thus in a way GERTY almost symbolizes the present day human beings who develop relationships and can emote with fellow human beings but are smart enough to sacrifice these emotions when required.

The idea of parallel computing and co-operative robots has been captured well by the film. GERTY, physically is not a single robot but many different robots, the nearest physical unit to Sam communicating with him as and when required. At the same time, GERTY is sharing the same memory resources and probably a single core – processor. The film also has shown a very realistic picture of robotics. Instead of showing high flying robots like in films like Star wars, it has shown a simple 6-axis or 7-axis robot which is quite adept at simple mechanical tasks.

Space technology has really evolved and the film paints a very true picture of things to happen. A Lunar base has been set up on the moon, where an earth like environment is being maintained for Sam. The space modules which frequently transfer the Helium-3 between earth and moon also seem a highly realistic proposition.

And finally, let’s get into the main subject of the movie- CLONING. Man is being used by Lunar industries as a commodity and with the help of his so called wife and daughter, it has become very easy to play with his emotions and keep him under control. In fact, the ultimate aim of ‘getting back to earth’ is shown as the main incentive to Sam because of which he is bearing the pain of solitude. The cloning technology has not evolved to the extent that the same clone can be used for years together. Every three years, the clone requires a replacement as his body becomes weak and succumbs to the regular wear and tear of the highly demanding job performed in adverse conditions. Also, the inhuman way in which the clone is treated in the end also shows how inhuman man can get for earning a few dollars. Every clone is asked to sit in a module (supposed to take him to earth) and there he is incinerated.

The film thus is one of its kind capturing various human emotions and technological evolution at the same time. The film also shows the ultimate victory of human mind over technology, ironically, though the latter is a result of human mind itself. The film was a limited release but nevertheless picked up two BAFTAs. It features in the 39th position in the top 50 sci-fi flicks on imdb.

Hopefully, my article was able to TAKE YOU TO THE MOON AND BACK.

I had written the above post for the System Consulting Club blog. You can find it here as well…

http://sysconclub.blogspot.com/2010/07/high-on-sci-fi-moon.html

Right or Left?

August 29, 2010 3 comments

Following on from my previous post,  is handedness observed in other animals? As the term itself is HANDedness, it is pretty intuitive that animals are mostly footed and only the other primates and bears use hand to some extent.  The polar bears are rumoured to be left handed but it is just that – a rumour. There is no scientific evidence for the polar bears being lefties. For all other primates other than humans, though they might acquire a liking for a particular hand, they do not have any preference as such. The reason being that the left and right sides of the brains are identically sized. In humans, as most of you must know, one side is bigger than the other. The lefties have their right brain slightly bigger and vice-versa. The right brain is supposed to control verbal skills and left brain is supposed to control all the quant skills and calculations. Thus, lefties are believed to be more artistic and righties more mathematical.

There is another category – ambidextrous people. By definition, they are people who can do any activity with both hands with equal ease. There are very few people who are ambidextrous in the true sense. But some do become ambidextrous – knowingly or inknowingly. For the record, three of my close friends have been non-right handed. Only one of them is lefty in the full sense. The other two eat/write with the right hand and throw/bowl etc with the left hand. Probably, at a young age, they started writing with the right hand because their teachers/parents told them that is the right way. Thus they are neither lefties nor righties not even ambidextrous – currently and are more of cross-dominant i.e. they have one hand assigned for each task. So how do you determine whether a person is a lefty or a righty in a flash? Throw something at him? No!!He would catch it with the hand nearest to him!!. Make him throw something, the action should be instantaneous and he should not be given enough time to decide which hand to use – he will definitely use his dominant hand to throw.

For a long time, the handedness was believed not to follow Mendel’s genetic rules. Mendel’s rule basically could give an idea what traits a child would have depending on his parent’s traits. For e.g. Mendel’s rules could determine what would be the color of the eyes of a child whose one parent is brown eyed and the other blue eyed. But in this case, two righty parents could have a lefty kid and two lefty parents could have a righty kid. But as late as 2007, a new gene has been discovered – LRRTM1. This gene determines the asymmetry in the brain size and in a way determines handedness.

Developing motor skills in your non-dominant hand is not very difficult and humans can learn it with enough practice. Lefties do it usually because they are forced to do it one way or the other Righties don’t usually do it but can take a shot at it. Yours truly (me, the blog writer) has learnt the same and achieved some success. What I have realized is you can do most routine actions – like throwing with left hand and with lots of practice, doing it in a rhythmic way, you can even take aim and hit the target pretty accurately. The above was an example of an action where you needed more of force/strength and less of dexterity in terms of the usage of fingers. Fingers are used the most while writing. So writing with left hand is difficult – but how difficult? I pretty much write decently with the left hand as well. My handwriting with my right hand is nothing to write home about and so the left hand is not doing very badly at that. Then which are the actions which are most difficult – the ones which need both dexterity and force – brushing teeth. It’s very difficult to reach the inner parts of your mouth from various angles that too with the right force so as to clean your teeth.

As they say- it’s all in the mind (literally too). There is nothing in this world which man can’t learn by practice. Thus, I am reiterating the well known proverb – practice makes a man perfect!!!!

Left or right?

August 29, 2010 6 comments

Ever wondered why you use one hand more than the other or for that matter, why are you right handed? Yes, I am confident that most of you readers are right handed and hence the earlier question- why RIGHT handed. Less than 10% of people around the world are left handed. Sorry lefties!!! Most of the further discussion would be from the perspective of righties!!!! ‘Us’ would mostly mean righties!!!

The majority of tools and equipments are suited for right handers, more than left handers. The door knobs are one such example though these days I myself have seen a number of left handed knobs. The taps and screws are another example which I find interesting. For us Indians, who usually eat with our hands, tap is not a problem as more often than not we have to open the tap with our left hand. But imagine tightening a screw or capping a bottle. Right now, to tighten the screws, you follow a clockwise direction – remember – tightening requires more pressure and accuracy most of the times and you would like to have your hand in a comfortable position for the same. To loosen the screw, only the initial jerk is necessary and the rest of the action is pretty straight forward. Yes, clockwise is much more comfortable than anticlockwise while tightening and vice-versa. The primary reason is the set of muscles in our hand involved. You can refer to supination (for clockwise movement) and pronation (for anti clockwise) for the details of muscle movements.

Another tool is the scissor. Most scissors are for right handed people – handle blade and all. A right handed scissor is one when you hold while cutting, the hand having the thumb faces outside. For lefties, this could be a problem, even if the screw is a little loose as all control is lost.

Lefties also face another problem – that of writing. Usually most of the lefties hold their pen/pencil in a peculiar fashion. They are forced to do it because otherwise, they might smear the ink of the previous letter written with their own hand. This is true for most of the written languages.

In sports, handedness plays a major role. Let’s take cricket – India’s favourite sport. Though bowling and fielding determines whether a person is righty or lefty, some people do wrongly believe that a left handed batsman is a lefty by birth. Actually, the terminology used should be top handed or bottom handed. Yes, a left handed batsman who is a righty by birth is top handed and a right handed righty is bottom handed. For top handed people, it is more like they are hitting a back hand shot (lets say in a game like tennis) with some support from the other hand. So if you are playing a game like tennis or badminton, your preference for backhanded shots might determine your preference in cricket. Now, which is better – being top handed or bottom handed? A left handed batsman has his dominant side – the right side facing the bowler which will give him more confidence. Not only that, there is this concept of right eyed and left eyed people i.e. a right eyed guy uses more of his right eye than the other. Most righties are right eyed and so on. So a top handed batsman would not only be using his dominant side, but can also see the ball more clearly with his dominant eye nearer to the ball. So he has more time than the bottom handed batsman and can execute his shots much better.

No prizes for guessing why Sourav Ganguly had such sweetly timed square cuts. Sachin Tendulkar is more of an enigma. I have read that he uses both hands and I have seen him autograph with his left hand. But I am not very sure if he has practiced that as he still bowls and throws with his right hand. In one particular match, I remember him trying to throw with his left hand and believe me it was not a pretty sight to watch. The ball somehow did reach the keeper’s gloves and the batsman of course couldn’t complete the single. But Sachin himself was all unbalanced and had thrust himself in the air.

Rafael Nadal is right handed but plays tennis with his left hand. It seems he used to play a double handed forehand. This gave his uncle and idea that Nadal could play left handed tennis. Now he  uses a double handed backhand too.

I guess this is enough for now. Read my next post to understand the science behind handedness.

Choosing Water over Land

August 27, 2010 4 comments

It’s a known fact that life originated out of water. The first living organisms – micro organisms took birth in the sea. And slowly they evolved into higher forms of life. Fishes originated and then they took reptilian form and these reptiles came to land and they evolved into mammals. But some of these mammals, strangely enough went back to water.

Modern whales owe their existence to a small wolf like carnivorous mammal PAKICETUS – the name being so because its fossils were first found in Pakistan. Pakicetus has now been included within the order ‘CETACEA’.  Pakicetus used to spend some amount of time in water – sometimes for feeding and sometimes to escape from other land-predators. The cetaceans finally fully settled in water, their lungs and bones – all developing to help them lead an aquatic life.

Let me now introduce another class of animals which you are familiar to – The ARTIODACTYLs or the EVEN TOED UNGULATES. These are all those herbivores you almost usually see – the cattle, pig, camel, giraffe etc. and most importantly hippopotamus. They are distinguished by the presence of 4 toes/hooves (as against 3 in case of odd toed ungulates like horses, donkeys, tapirs, rhinos etc), the weight of the body being borne wholly by 2 of the 4 toes. The closest living relatives of cetaceans are artiodactyls, Hippopotamus being the closest among them all. In fact the two orders – those of cetaceans and artiodactyls are together given a Clade – Cetartiodactyla. So how do early Cetaceans differ from artiodactyls? The structure of the tympanic bone in the ear is what differentiates the cetaceans from artiodactyls.

Interestingly enough, there is another close relative of whales – INDOHYUS (Meaning, Indian Pig), which was a herbivore. It was almost a contemporary of Pakicetus and most probably more recent than Pakicetus. It is a relative of the cetaceans in the sense that it has the same ear structure and belongs to the family Raoellidae.

Another set of mammals which took the aquatic route are the SIRENIA – the sea cows, manatees and dugongs.  SIRENIA are completely herbivorous and feed on plants growing under the sea. Now guess who are the closest relatives of these creatures? Elephants. Yes, Elephants and the Sirenia both evolved from common ancestors PRORASTOMIDAE which were mostly terrestrial animals known to be amphibious too. While they finally went and settled to lead a fully aquatic life to have evolved into Sirenia, somewhere down the line some of them have even come out of water and evolved into Elephants. No marks for guessing why elephants are such good swimmers and why they like to wallow in water so much. The skin of pachyderms is also fit to lead a dual – aquatic plus terrestrial lifestyle. Thus, in a way elephants represent a set of animals who went back to water and then again came back to land.

Here, I would like to touch upon another set of mammals that have gone back to water, though not fully. They are the PINNIPEDs or the super family of mammals having seals, walrus, sea lions etc who feed in water but stay on land. Thus they are semi- aquatic. But it is true that they have evolved from bear-like animals which were fully terrestrial.

Thus, we can see that though evolution forces most animals into being aquatic or terrestrial or amphibious, some of them still like to go back to what suits them the most by evolving themselves.

Don’t think of the …….

July 17, 2010 4 comments

What would be your instantaneous reaction if I tell you ‘Don’t think of the elephant’? Of course, you would start thinking about one and thus I have planted a thought  in your mind. This inception of thought is the basic idea behind the movie INCEPTION. In the last post, I mentioned about this movie and you could say this is a continuation to that post, in a way….

Rarely do you see multiplex audiences clapping for a movie. But that is the kind of effect Christopher Nolan has on his fans.  It happened last time (Mumbai crowd), while watching Dark Knight when the whole crowd was simply stunned at seeing the Batmobile turn into a Batpod .  And it happened last night too, (this time in Kolkata crowd), when the crowd clapped once and only once – and that was during the last (but not the least) scene of the film. While some of them might have clapped for the movie, or for the scene itself, or for the ‘INCEPTION’ of the concept of the movie in Nolan’s brain , am sure there were some of them who were applauding for themselves that they allowed themselves to be treated and tricked and deceived yet another time. Yes, I am talking about a group of die-hard Nolan fans whose size has been on the rise for some time now. They would rate Nolan as their Numero Uno director. Believe me they would not like to hear a single negative comment about any of his movies, defending and justifying every single twist and every single scene. How do I know? Obviously, because I am one of them.

The above said being true, once you set such high standards for a film and a director, it is very easy to be let down. You need to raise the bar each and every time you make a movie and believe me, Nolan doesn’t let you down.  To begin with, the main theme of the film, that of sharing dream space and sharing a mind space through technology has now become a very standard theme. I feel these films should be classified as a new genre altogether (Read my previous post).  So if you are coming out with such themes, you need to have something extraordinary in terms of story and concept to make it a refreshing experience for the viewer.

Without revealing much of the story, the plot goes something like this….. Dom Cobb (Leonardo Di Caprio) is an extractor who specializes in extracting ideas by getting into others’ dreams. But this time round he is asked by Saito (Ken Watanabe) to do something different. And for this task, he comes out with a team, some his old friends and some recruited newly. The major part of the film is how they go about doing this task. Also as another subplot, Cobb has his wife Mal (Marion Cotillard) coming in his dreams again and again often to the point that he loses control of the situation.

It is not the first time that Chris Nolan has come out with such mind blowing action sequences. We saw a bit of it in BATMAN BEGINS and of course a lot of it in DARK KNIGHT. While these two were more of action hero movies, this is the first time I am seeing Nolan blending lots of action with an extremely tricky and sensitive story line. And as far as cinematography is concerned, it is almost first of its kind. Walter Pfister has really done a great job. Nolan has depended on him for all his movies since memento and the man has already picked up three academy award nominations, all three for Nolan’s films – Batman Begins, Dark Knight and the Prestige. Talking about Prestige’s cinematography – it was excellent with all the magical tricks and scientific touch. But the movie didn’t require any of the high speed action which we seen in INCEPTION.

The screenplay – am sure that the screenplay demanded infinite revisions and corrections. The plots were so closely interlinked and every bit of detail, along with its scientific reasoning had to be taken care of. The background score by Hans Zimmer was simply awesome and blended well with the scenes.

Talking about the cast, Leonardo, needless to say, has put up a stupendous performance.  But frankly speaking, his role wasn’t that demanding. Of the rest of the cast, all the team members had done a decent job, but special mention about Joseph Gordon-Levitt ( of 500 days of summer fame) who had a decent screen presence, considering he was acting along with some of the industry biggies like Leo and Watanabe. Too bad Michael Caine did not get any substantial role in the film. Ellen Page (Of Juno fame) has also done a pretty decent job.

But the one who stole the show completely was Marion Cotillard. Her role was very demanding and she had to emote anger, repentence, sadness and vengeance almost at the same time and she did it with panache.  Interestingly, I found her character’s name quite intriguing – Mal. Mal is a prefix we associate with a negative connotation – as in malware, malfunctioning etc.

Talking about computer programming and coding, I found this interesting connect between Nolan’s movies and Software programming. Most of his earlier films resembled multi threading while this involve multiple nested loops.

That’s it for now, please do  watch the movie and enjoy the experience. And believe me; you would love being ‘Nolan’ised.

Mind over Matter or Mind over Machine?

June 25, 2010 10 comments

Welcome back. The post again is about movies and here I am going to discuss three seemingly very different movies but which according to me have a common thread. It is about those movies which go into a virtual world, access to which is through our own brain. And this access is by connecting the brain to a particular machine or system. The movies are THE MATRIX (1999), VANILLA SKY(2001) and ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND (2004). All the three movies belong to different genres altogether. While the Matrix is a science fiction – action thriller, Vanilla Sky is a science fiction – psychological thriller. Now comes the most interesting combo. A science fiction – Romantic film. Seems unlikely? Well, Eternal….is indeed one of its kind.

The question arises – ‘Why this particular type of movies ?’. Being a Nolan fan, am waiting with bated breath for the release of ‘Inception’ featuring Leonardo. It is again about getting into the dreams and sharing dream space though I am not sure about the passage through mind – is it through a machine or is it telepathic? Thus I am tempted to do a comparison of these films. Also, two of the movies feature in Pratik’s suggested list as a reply on the last post.

Coming back, lets discuss the plotline of the three movies. Matrix – The movie is set in 1999 where the main protagonist Neo (Keanu Reeves) who is computer programmer is approached by some hackers who want him to understand ‘The matrix’. It turns out that matrix is a virtual system built by machines for controlling the humans and all that Neo is seeing is the virtual world. Outside the matrix, it is a post 2199 era where the bodies of all humans are being used by the machines for their body heat and bio electrical energy.  The hackers – Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne) and Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss) are people in the real world who help unplug Humans from the matrix. Morpheus believes that Neo is the ‘ONE’ (word play of NEO) who is capable of saving the humans from the matrix. Over the course of the movie and the two sequels, NEO helps save the world not before we see a lot of mind blowing action sequences. These scenes were first of their kind and are still being aped the world over in many action movies.

Vanilla Sky talks about David Aames (Tom Cruise), a rich spoilt brat who starts seeing Sofia Serrano (Penelope Cruz). His previous partner Julianna (Cameron Diaz) becomes jealous of them and crashes the car (carrying David and Julianna) on intent because of which David’s face is disfigured . Jullianna dies in the car crash. David loves Sofia but she does not seem to have the same feelings for him. Though eventually she comes to him and helps him recover and have a successful plastic surgery. But later on, he starts seeing weird things, starts seeing Julianna replacing Sofia sometimes. He is also stalked by a strange man who keeps giving him warnings. I won’t be revealing any further, go figure out the rest of the movie for yourselves…..

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless mind  – The story starts on a train where Joel Barish (Jim Carrey)  and Clementine Kruczynski (Kate Winslet) meet for the first time. They have an instant liking towards each other. We are slowly taken to flashback, where it is revealed that both were ex-lovers and Clementine had hired the services of Lacuna Inc to erase memories of Joel permanently. Joel is heartbroken and is left with no other choice but to erase his own memory. He goes to Lacuna Inc and applies for a selective memory removal – all memories of Clementine are to be removed permanently.  The employees of Lacuna connect a computer to Joel’s brain and start the procedure. The story then revolves around how once the process starts, Joel is reluctant to part with his memories mind and how he fights back to retain some of their sweet moments together.

All the three movies are complex to a great extent but some of them try and explain the logic to the viewer.  While in Matrix and Eternal ….., the concept of mind-machine interface is introduced early on in the movie, vanilla sky does a great job by holding back the explanation till the very end. It’s a different thing altogether that rather than letting the viewer decipher things himself, he is spoon-fed the whole logic in the last 5 minutes. The matrix is pretty simple to understand and Keanu’s hairstyle gives us a fair idea whether it’s the real world or virtual world. In Eternal, one is expected to be on his toes while watching because of the non-linear style of narration and the continuous movement between the real world and the world of memories.

Though Matrix might seem the oldest of the three, Vanilla sky is the remake of Spanish movie OPEN YOUR EYES(1997) (Abre los ojos) starring Penelope. Also movies like DARK CITY (1998) and THE THIRTEENTH FLOOR (1999), though not very popular had started exploring the virtual world.

Talking about success of the films, ‘The Matrix’ as everyone knows has achieved a cult status, has a high ranking of 26 in IMDB and has also won 4 Academy awards – for film editing, sound editing, sound mixing and visual effects. Eternal….has reached a high 59 rank in IMDB and film won the Academy award for Best original Screenplay. Kate Winslet got an Academy award nomination once again (She’s got 6 till now and she won at the 6th attempt for THE READER).Vanilla Sky has not got many good reviews (a number of negative reviews by top critics on rotten tomatoes) and it got an average IMDB ranking. But nevertheless, it was a commercial hit.

Few words on casting. None of the main actors were the original choice in The matrix. While many actors were approached before Keanu (one of them was Will Smith), Sean Connery  and Sandra Bullock were approached for the role of Morpheus and Trinity respectively. Vanilla Sky featured all top actors and in a sense was a sure hit. Penelope had just begun her career in English films and Cruise’s affair with Cruz ( J) helped generate a lot of publicity. And finally for Eternal…, both feature in my top 5 list of favourites. While Carrey did a stupendous job, performing in a serious role (not doing his rubber faced comedy, his forte), Kate Winslet stole the show completely. In fact, this role helped Carrey establish himself as an ‘actor’ in the real sense of the term for the first time and not just a comedian.

Personally, I liked Eternal Sunshine … the most. Only thing I did not like about the film is ‘oh so long’ title. I liked this movie the most probably because I am biased towards Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet. On a serious note, it’s really difficult to bring science fiction into a romantic theme and the effort was totally worth it. The results are there for you to see.

PS: I had planned to write a post on RAAVAN. But now that the film has bombed, may it RIP.

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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