Revealing the Prestige’s Method
an eyes wide open review of Christopher Nolan’s magical movie, The Prestige.

The Prestige Explained
“Are you watching closely?” Thus begins Christopher Nolan’s masterfully crafted period piece that seems to have a lot more going on than one might initially see occurring on the surface. This review assumes you’ve already watched The Prestige. If you haven’t – go away. Watch the movie, then come back. Are we clear? Great.

To set the stage for the reveal – I really must quote R.J. Carter, a science fiction author and a Senior Editor of “The Trades”, and how let down he felt upon originally watching the movie:

“So why do I feel cheated?… Because after committing so much time and faith to the plot, I find out that the story is one of science fiction. Don’t get me wrong — I love a good science fiction story; just tell me in advance”… “So why do I feel cheated?… Because after committing so much time and faith to the plot, I find out that the story is one of science fiction. Don’t get me wrong — I love a good science fiction story; just tell me in advance.”

What Carter doesn’t realize is that he’s only understood the first two epiphanies. It is the third that makes the movie make sense. It is the third that makes the Nolans the most brilliant writers in cinema history. To convince you, here is Newsweeks thoughts on the movie:

“At the end of this dark entertainment three twists await: one you will certainly see coming, another you may have figured out just before it happens, and the final may be so tricky you won’t quite piece it all together until after you’ve left the theater.”

So the challenge is in front of us. There are THREE surprises awaiting the diligent. Let’s not waste time – we’ve got some discovering to do.

A Prestige Primer

The plot of the Prestige is simple at face value. We are presented with two young aspiring magicians. Angier (played by Hugh Jackman) a very good showman but less than stellar magician. And Borden (played by Christian Bale) a natural magician in every right but a bit dim in the showmanship category. The prime mover of the entire movie’s sadistic tendencies is a tragic event that ends up killing Angier’s wife and it is believed Borden is to blame. The two quickly develop a rivalry to end all rivalries reminiscent of the Montigues and Capulets that basically consumes them night and day. It begins with Borden and Angier racing to become the best magician in London and ends with mayhem, blood and death.

Possible Prestige Methods

The point of this review is not to speak to the surface level plot points of the movie, but rather to address a deficit I am seeing in the larger Prestige discussion arena. Many people that have seen the movie and have discussed the various intricacies gravitate more towards the more philosophical and moral nuggets held within. And that is a great discussion to be had – don’t get me wrong – but think all of these discussions completely miss the larger reveal – or Prestige if you will – that is going on here in front of everyone’s noses. So to that end I will first recount the more populist of theories out there that most ascribe (at least in one flavor or another). And then I will sketch out for you my version of how the movie played itself out.

We Have Seen The Populists And We Are Them…

When the dust of this movie settles for most people it is fairly clear, if not a bit disappointing, what happened throughout. But what makes this Populist theory so widespread and overwhelmingly popular is that you have to work to come to this conclusion. Its not a simple thing to understand this movie even at the most basic of levels. So, when most people rearrange the anarchic timeline in their heads and finally makes sense of that they then begin cogitating on the whole “reveal” with Borden and his twin at the finale. Once they get that bit they progress to the larger questions circulating around Angier and the Tesla machine. At this point the chaos is so thick and the hip-waders are so completely and totally mucked they’ll take even some of the more outlandish of answers as fact.

Where the disagreement within this camp lies is usually within the “How exactly did Tesla make the machine work”, “which Borden was hanged” or the “how many Angiers were there that drowned?” veins. The really adventurous within this camp may posit something as outlandish as – “The Tesla machine isn’t a cloning machine, it’s a teleportation machine that leaves a new clone behind” which creates reams and reams of discussion fodder. So all that to say, this Populist vantage on the movie takes the ending literally. The Tesla machine clones all those who enter and the only thing left to sort out is how do we dispose of the extras?

The Prestige’s Prestige…

The Man Behind the Curtain
The first point I would like to make in regards to this larger reveal within The Prestige would have to be a completely unrelated movie. Anyone who has experienced any of Christopher Nolan’s other movies will know, the Director of The Prestige is not afraid to layer ambiguity over ambiguity in order to create a powerful tapestry that ultimately overloads the senses. Memento is the perfect example of this illusion folded in on top of illusion with the intentional objective of avoiding a definitive answer to the problems played across the screen. The Prestige is yet another example of this, where we are confronted with constantly conflicting evidence that may or may not point in 42 different directions. All that to say, everything I am about to posit here and now was intentionally placed within the Prestige strategically by Mr. Nolan. I guarantee it. Now, as to whether or not my vantage on this movie is correct or not I will leave this question in your capable hands to ascertain.

What is the third reveal?
Quite simply put I believe that the Tesla machine is a sham and it doesn’t do anything but throw pretty sparks. Already many of you are hefting your rocks in order to stone me for heresy. To understand how I can posit something that contradicts everything we are told as the movie wraps up will take some effort. But if you will stick with me – and then if you watch the movie again – you will see not only how plausible all of this is but how necessary it is for the entire movie to make any sense at all.

The Prestige’s Prestige on AutoPilot
How can it possibly be? Let’s just cut to the chase and I will walk you through the explanation in a timeline format:

  1. Angier and Borden work together as plants in a show where Angier’s wife is accidentally killed.
  2. The two go their separate ways and begin developing their own shows.
  3. Borden and Fallon (Borden’s twin) develop the transporting man.
  4. Angier becomes obsessed with understanding the trick at all costs.
  5. Angier steals Borden’s notebook and realizes it would take him years to decipher.
  6. Angier captures Fallon and gives him back after Borden reveals the method/key – “Tesla”.
  7. Angier embarks on a trip to Tesla in order to have him build him a teleporting machine.
  8. Tesla is tipped by Borden of Angier’s goals and Tesla takes him on a wild goose chase.
  9. Angier “discovers” the hats and the cats and is convinced the machine works.
  10. Angier receives the machine under dubious circumstances.
  11. Angier learns that the machine in fact does not work and realizes he’s been duped.
  12. Angier begins plotting his revenge by staging a limited engagement of the new teleporting man.
  13. Borden visits both the show and the backstage removal of the tanks.
  14. Borden then goes onstage and then down below where he witnesses Angier’s double drowning.
  15. Borden is arrested for murder and put on trial.
  16. Angier – as Lord Caldlow – still wants to know Borden’s method and so he attempts to purchase the method for the drowning man from Borden while he’s in prison.
  17. Borden receives Angier’s journal and begins learning about Angier’s trip to visit Tesla.
  18. Borden discovers that Angier has apparently anticipated Borden’s murder of himself prior.
  19. Borden sells the transporting man trick in trade for his daughter’s safety.
  20. Angier visits Borden in prison to make him aware he’s won.
  21. Borden is hanged – says “Abracadabra” just beforehand.
  22. Fallon – now dressed as Borden – goes to Angier in his theater basement and shoots him.
  23. Angier attempts to get Borden to notice his surroundings – Borden doesn’t bite.
  24. Angier dies and Borden is reunited with his daughter.
  25. Roll Credits.

I have intentionally avoided explaining some of the stickier issues with this theory above. Instead I have differed a few of the more obvious rebuttals until later. But first, you have to admit that walking through the movie in its proper chronology along with this new view of how the events unfolded sheds quite a bit of light on certain aspects that you wouldn’t have noticed before. For example – why would Angier still be trying to get Borden’s method after having reproduced the trick with the Tesla machine? It logically doesn’t follow. He’d been duplicating himself successfully for months – why does he still need the method?

Or another anomaly: Towards the end Borden (not Fallon, but Borden) became obsessed with trying to figure out how Angiers accomplishes his final Teleporting Man technique. Recall Borden saying to Scarlet “All we know is that there’s a trap door! What’s going on under that stage?!?” So… explain that to me. If Borden was the one that directed Angiers to Tesla in order to get the cloning machine, why would he be so flummoxed by the trick? Wouldn’t it be obvious to Borden that his rival was using the same cloning methods as himself, only plotted out in a different way?

There are also other minor things that stand out as well, but I will leave those to you for now. More importantly would be for us to explain how such a contrary chronology is even possible by only watching what we are shown by Mr. Nolan.

The Narration
How can it be that a movie can physically get away with lying to our faces? The first (and maybe the most important exercise) thing we must consider is the source. Can you remember who does the narration of this movie? Yes, you are correct Cutter does narrate a fair amount. But who else narrates the action as it proceeds? No it isn’t completely accurate to say either Borden or Angier narrates. Actually if you look closely you’ll realize that the two key narrators in this story are Borden’s diary read by Angier and alternately Angier’s diary being read by Borden.

The next question that we must ask ourselves is this – can we trust Borden’s or Angier’s diaries? Obviously not. One of the greater sub-plot twists is the reveal to Borden that Angier is writing to him “from the dead”. Similarly, we feel Angier’s unfettered angst and loathing for Borden when Borden’s diary reveals that the entire document was crafted solely for his consumption. So, if this is the case, why should we believe a single thing that these sources have revealed to us? Right, so please keep that in mind as we continue forward.

The Motivations
If we consider both of the two main characters, Borden and Angier, what would we say that their main motivations are? For Borden I think it is fairly obvious that he is intent on developing the world’s best magic trick that will turn the world upside down. You recall his arguments on behalf of the bullet catch and his hopes for doing something new and exciting as opposed to the litany of tried and true tricks. Angier on the other hand feeds off of the love and approval only the audience can give. One of the really great threads buried deep within this movie is the juxtaposition of these two extremes. Natural talent and savant versus the ever envious showman. These two men obviously are out for blood and nothing is going to stand in their way.

Early on Borden discovers a key fact about what it means to truly become a great magician/artist. Borden understood that it took complete dedication to his craft 24/7/365 days of the year. There was no on-stage moment… his life was the stage. But what has this to do with the final reveal? Angier finally understands that to best Borden he is going to have to get his hands dirty. He is going to invest sizably and go to extraordinary lengths to better Borden. And in Angier’s defense, this he does really really well. Angier is solely responsible for this the most extraordinary of surprises in all of the movie. He has finally learned the lesson Borden has been trying to teach him for years. And it is this lesson, this surprise that 98% of the movie’s audience are blissfully unaware.

The Prestige’s Raison de etre
The very first prime mover we encounter within the movie is that magic is special in that it frees the audience from their painful and boring lives by allowing them to believe in something that is unreal. It frees them to believe in something greater, that something truly otherworldly exists in this world. Why would we not begin to think for a second that the movie The Prestige is doing anything differently? It is then allowing the audience to slip into the fantastical notion that magic is real and there is an escape from the ordinariness of this life. When in fact there really is a solution available to those who are diligent and observant.

Secondly throughout the movie we are shown time and time again the details of various magic tricks and how they physically work. Then at the end all of a sudden this pattern stops and the machine actually works? This answer is disjointed in the extreme. If this occurred in The Illusionist I wouldn’t have given it a second thought. But it didn’t… it occurred in The Prestige and it in so doing is a logical fallacy.

And finally, the movie proves its on thesis in that most don’t really want to know how a magic trick is done. We really do want to be fooled. So to it goes with the mechanics of how the movie actually works. Most do not want to be fooled. Ask yourself this question. Is The Prestige a drama or a science fiction movie? It doesn’t logically follow that it would be a science fiction movie. It makes no sense that a writer/director as smart as Christopher Nolan would make this mistake accidentally. Its way too brazen and obvious for such a nuanced and intelligent director.

Common Questions:
Q. But the HATS man! What about the hats and the cats? He sees them with his own two eyes! He discovers that the machine works all on his own!

A. Drivel. Are you saying that purchasing 200 identically sized and colored top hats is difficult? That finding five similarly colored cats is hard? Please. The genius here wasn’t in the hats and the cats in the field. It was in getting Angier to believe he solved the glitch in the Tesla Machine. It was the perfect con.

Angier only realizes the machine doesn’t work after the lab is destroyed and he’s already on his way back to England. That was Angier’s turning point. Do I really want to be the greatest magician of all time? Will I live the lie 24/7/365 in order to pull of this stunt and in so doing secure my position atop all the other magicians and showmen that went before me? And more importantly, will I beat my arch nemesis finally? Or will I allow myself to lose?

——

Q. We see with our own two eyes that Angier is duplicated by the machine. That he had to take the gun and shoot his double upon realization of what he’d done.

A. Earlier in this review I detailed out the narration problem. This too is a similar problem. At the point in the story when this scene is shown it is Angier telling Fallon what he’d done, and that the machine had worked. Why would we trust Angier’s word any more than we would trust his diary? This is just one more lie, albeit one that we envision along with Fallon as he is telling it to us. Its nothing more than a lie.

——

Q. But what about all the bodies in the chambers at the end?

A. That is the essence of a magic trick. There needs to be nearly incontrovertible proof that the trick is real or we wouldn’t believe. It really doesn’t matter how I answer this one, in my opinion. 20 different look-a-likes that Angier has killed. 20 wax figures he’s crafted to trick Fallon (Borden) into believing he’s really made the Tesla machine work. This magic trick was for an audience of one. Fallon. (And You.)

—–

Q. During the wrap up – the explanation – of the movie Nolan did not say anything about the machine not working. Its simply incomprehensible that Nolan wouldn’t have explained everything to us and tie a pretty bow at the ending of the movie.

A. True. American movie going audiences disdain loose ends. They are anathema to us. And for a director to challenge us in this way is almost unthinkable. And as unthinkable a premise as this is – it is exactly what Nolan had done in The Prestige. He has evenly balanced two equally plausible and irrefutable truths perfectly. Either A) This movie is science fiction. or B) It is a magic trick. Neither can be proven wrong. The evidence to both options are equally weighted. It is in this that we see Nolan’s true genius.

—-

Believing that the Tesla machine works would be similar to believing that a magician who saws his assistant in half has somehow created a medical device that will re-weld her back together again. Why would you ever believe this to be true? You wouldn’t. So why exactly would you believe that the machine truly works? You shouldn’t.

But I do admit that ultimately I would have had to concoct evidence to make sense of such an awful movie directed by such a brilliant mind. Luckily for me, I didn’t have to concoct a story when one is right there if you would just take a moment to consider it fully. The only question is – Are you watching closely enough? Do you really want to know the truth behind the story?

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393 Responses

  1. Brian

    Yo – well argued, my friend! It’s like Dejavu – remembering all the details that made this movie so great…I want to watch it again!

    NICE.

    Reply
  2. Taylor

    Thanks amigo…
    You should be given a trophy for having to sit through this tripe in person and without warning! An EMMY even. Cough.

    Tay

    Reply
  3. tony v

    Yes, I know this is dragging up an old thread, but I just saw this movie again, and still love it. You have nailed it. I’ve tried to explain it was all a trick to others who saw, but they believe the “clone” machine worked like many do.
    Thank you for taking the time to clearly explain what at least 2 of us think happened.

    Reply
  4. Taylor

    Thanks for the comment Tony.
    Glad to know that 1 other person buys the theory. At least we can be insane together. Hehe.

    Seriously though… I am sure it makes no since to most to spend so much time on such a silly thing. And yet I believe most people are missing it – even those that enjoy the movie. Thanks again.

    Taylor

    Reply
  5. tony v

    Taylor,

    Yes it’s only a movie, but one that provokes such thought afterward is pretty neat!

    I find it funny that many critics and reviewers didn’t “get it”, and write about the “syfy” twist!

    Google is another fun tool, if you want to be entertained by the “98%”, take a look at the following:

    http://www.moviesnobs.net/the-prestige-explained/#comment-43710

    You can see where I come in (recently), and all those who believe in the machine!

    Cheers!

    Tony

    Reply
  6. Conor

    I have seen this film over 15 times and I can assure you your theory is wrong.

    I have to point out some of the many flaws in your assessment. First off you question why Borden would want to know what happens underneath the stage if he knew Angier was using the same cloning machine. The answer is that Borden never used the machine. He never spoke to Tesla, and instead sent him there just to get him on a wild goose chase. Borden always had his twin brother. He didn’t think a machine like that could be used. So its completely natural for him to want to know what happens under the state and how he can go that distance in such a short amount of time.

    Which brings me to my next question. Everything in this film has a logical, albiet sci-fi, explanation to how each trick works. If you are correct and the machine doesn’t work, how then does Angier travel that distance? He tried the double technique earlier and got burnt badly for it, humiliated even. Would you honestly think he would use this method again.

    And if it was wax figures as you suggest, how does he travel that distance still? And who was it in the tank that Borden drowned.

    The real answer is that the showman won. Borden could have done the trick just as Angier did. He could have traveled more distance and had a light show, but being the great magician and lowsy showman, he didn’t do that. He kept it too simple. That is what is tragic to me. Borden could have done the trick better, but Angier found a way to out do him. And it was through Tesla making him that working machine that he was able to do this.

    And finally, if you read the novel that this is adapted from, the machine works. It is as clear as day that the cloning machine works.

    The only question that remains is which Angier remains when the machine works. I believe it sends a clone to the new location, while keeping the original. Angier states at the end of the film that it took so much courage stepping into the machine not knowing if you’d be the one that died or moved on.

    – – – – – – –

    I have to say that no film has provided the landscape for such a large discussion. I love that many people find new things with this film and I myself find out something new every time I watch it. I look forward to any replies regarding my above post.

    Cheers!

    Reply
  7. Taylor

    Thanks for the assurance. Heheh.

    So you believe, Borden tossed out the first scientific name he could think of as the method/password to the book in order to send Angiers on a wild goose chase? Oh, and you also believe this goose chase ultimately resulted in a machine that could clone adult humans in a flash – ex nihilo?!? (You do realize even God chose to use dirt to form Adam right?)

    Doesn’t this whoops!! Tesla actually could clone junk seem amazingly silly? Like 3 lottery ticket wins in a row with the same number kind of low odds? I just think it’s laughable really.

    As for angiers using a twin again, it’s perfectly reasonable as long as he lives the magic like Borden and the Chinese magician do. Blind stange hands. 100 shows. Cutter is excluded. Etc etc. Of course it’s a twin. There is no other reasonable explanation.

    As far as the book goes – I’m well aware. I’ve read it. And it is more of a philosophical argument about the ethical treatments of clones. But Nolan wrote the screenplay here and all bets are now off. The book is enteresting but nothing Nolan touches stays the same. Ie Batman anyone? Memento Mori?

    If the only debatable thing is – which is the clone which is the real… Then I want nothing to do with this tripe ridden movie. To explain every trick painfully and then throw sic-fi in is silly. I don’t by a word of it. Granted, you are welcome to your opinion but unfortunately sir, your 15 viewings have let you down.

    Until next time.
    Taylor

    Reply
  8. Conor

    Okay, so please still explain to me these things:
    1. Why would Angier be so shocked when Borden appears in the end to shoot him? He seems genuinely shocked that he did in fact have a brother the entire time. Furthermore he asks a lot of questions about it, rather than simply understanding it because it is what he too went through with.

    Angier then explains to Borden how he knows nothing about his own sacrifice and we are shown (not told through Angier) about the first time Angier uses his machine and shoots himself. How does this play out if he has a twin. He is not telling this to Borden, we are seeing it as the audience.

    What I feel your argument boils down to is that he just has a twin the entire time and that is that. In doing so you have to ignore every bit of evidence we have been shown to the contrary. The fact that he doesn’t have the dedication to perform such a trick, that he is more of a showman and cannot understand magic like Borden. Angier is completely baffled at Chung Lee Soo’s secret once Borden tells him.

    The film is not only about figuring out who is the original and which twin is which. It is about the sacrifices in order to win and the cost that comes along with it. It is a dramatic piece that has sci-fi elements. It took a period piece and mixed in sci-fi. Something that is rarely done, and Nolan has said himself in the special features even that he wanted to try something new like that.

    When I first heard about this theory I got excited, I really wanted another chapter of this story to be openend up. But choosing to believe this is grasping at something that isn’t in the film. The details do not add up.

    Reply
    • Dylan

      So I’ve read through many of the comments here. There’s a definite elegance to the theory. It ties together Cutter’s beginning and ending speech (“You want to be fooled”) quite beautifully.

      There is one, fundamental, issue with the theory that I don’t follow. The climactic scene where we actually witness Alfred Borden (really, Frederick Borden) investigate the basement of Angier’s show. We see a body fall into the tank, the locks close, and then a body drowns. Frederick is taken into custody, and the movie proceeds.

      I cannot reasonably explain this scene without a cloning machine. We see a body fall. More importantly, that body is taken by the authorities, and is medically examined. We see it lying on that slab. That’s the crucial bit. It’s no wax figurine. It is a dead man. And we see Angier in the crucial following scenes, so who was that dead body?

      Unless I am missing a crucial bit of a theory, the only real explanation is that Angier drowned a twin/double. However, that opens a whole new can of worms. First, the idea of such an exact body double is very dubious. We’re not dealing with real magic here, just misdirection and clever preparation. The reason Fallon can pretend to be Angiers in the early version of the trick is the result of a lot of makeup. That would not hold up under the medical examination. They would need to be a literal identical twin of Angier. At that point, we’re getting into pretty bizarro territory. There was a mysterious, never before mentioned, identical twin to Angier? This is getting very similarly contrived to the idea that Tesla made a working machine.

      Next, this Angier Twin could not have known of the plan (as it involved him being killed!). So, this trick starts to become absolutely elaborate. Each act, Angier Twin falls into the whole, and lives. Except, the one time that Frederick Borden came to investigate the trick, Angier (who is stashed somewhere across the audience hall) sets up the trick so that instead the Angier Twin falls into the tank and dies, framing Borden?

      The best argument for this theory is its relative simplicity, and how it ties together the ideas of the movie. However, I note that the movie does not *require* it. There are no fundamental *plot* issues with Tesla making a working machine. It’s quite cohesive. The problems are only thematic. Thus, even if you can convince me why the climactic scene can be explained by your theory, I will not necessarily be convined that Nolan intended this to be a correct interpretation of the film. Filmmakers generally do not let a fundamental twist in the movie not be needed by elements of the plot. That’s not to say that there isn’t some level of ambiguity, I could buy that Nolan wanted this to be left a little ambiguous, it fits with themes quite well. But I don’t believe for a second that this is his only interpretation of the movie. If it were, it would be very sloppy to not leave more clues. And it would be even sloppier to allow the scifi version to simply explain the plot of the movie. The scifi version requires one tiny leap of faith. “Tesla made a cloning machine”. Nothing else. This theory relies on unreliable narrators, the introduction of an entirely new identical twin which we’ve never heard of before, many ways that his trick could have easily been found out, etc. If it’s the intended plot, then it is very sloppy work by Nolan.

      In summary, I think the climactic scene with Borden discovering the dead body is a fundamental problem with the theory. If there is a good explanation for that scene, then I think it’s a very interesting and elegant theory. I do not believe it is intended, as it would be sloppy filmmaking to have a fundamental plot twist be barely explained and rely on so many bizarre occurrences. However, it ties in very well with the themes of the movie, and I can definitely buy the idea that Nolan wanted the fact that the machine worked to be ambiguous, and I could even imagine that he somewhat intended for us to doubt that until well after we had left the theater. After all, it is a movie about magic and secrecy!

      Reply
  9. Taylor

    1. Angier knew nothing. The decrypted diary told him nothing. The trip to Tesla told him nothing as the machine didn’t work. Years earlier Cutter and Angier are arguing over how Borden pulled it off and Angier would not take a double as the real answer. There was something deeper going on some sort of “real magic” that he wanted to believe. But he also hadn’t foreseen the twin angle either as Borden changed his entire lifestyle to cover this fact up. He lived the magic when Angier couldn’t wrap his mind around this concept. So of course he asked a ton of questions at the end. It is your theory that should have a ton of problems with this scene.

    2. Angier tells Borden this is what happened and the movie shows us what Angier is telling us. This witness is about as untrustworthy as they come. You are misunderstanding what is happening here. And its a subtle detail – but crucial. Angier, describes to Borden (really Fallon) the hard work and sacrifice he went through and the movie shows us what he’s saying. This scene is the apex of the magic trick from Angier to the audience of Borden/Fallon.

    3. Angier didn’t at one time have the dedication to live the magic. Oh but he got motivated. After getting worked by Tesla & Borden he had all kinds of motivation. He definitely got off his butt at that point. That is when he creates his own diary. (A bit unoriginal, but unanticipated all the same.) He hires the blind stage hands. Begins living the trick as opposed to just performing it on stage. I’m not arguing I know what the solution is for Angier’s trick. Wax figures, a single double, a 100… it really doesn’t matter. Clever magic has clever solutions. But scientifically feasible all the same. I have a solution that I think makes sense… but its moot really.

    I think its pretty funny that you believe that trusting in cloning is a solution you can believe in. That makes zero sense and it is about as incongruous as it gets. (Which is actually more offensive than the sci-fi bit actually.) The movie is a magic trick and it makes sense that you don’t want to believe. You want to be carried away by the fantasy – the movie says that is what most want. The belief in unbelief…

    I couldn’t agree more with your statement re: the point of the movie – “the sacrifices in order to win”. I liken this movie to Primer – which isn’t a sci-fi movie either, it just happens to have a time-travel bit in it. hehe. Its actually about two friends and eventually their never ending struggle with one another to win. But if there is only a sci-fi explanation – I don’t want any part of it. And it just slid along side Ishtar as the worst movie ever made if that is the only option. Thankfully… it isn’t.

    I will say I do respect anyone that really thinks this movie through – and that you have. Congratulations – and keep up the good thinking.

    Reply
  10. Willow

    Can’t we all just get along?

    I think the real object of the movie is that either position you take is somewhat inarguable. It is equally unlikely that the movie is science-fiction as it is to say that the whole thing was a magic trick. While it makes logical and dramatic sense that the movie was simply a well presented magic trick, there is equal and seemingly sound evidence to suggest that the Tesla machine really works.

    No matter what side you take, you’re kind of screwed trying to defend yourself. If Angier truly used a double, how could he have shot himself from across the room? Killed his double twice? And I have a hard time believing that this scene was just planted in the movie for show. Could it be a lie? Possible, not probable.

    On the other hand, if the Tesla machine really does work, it ruins the very basis on which the movie is built. The Prestige begins and ends with the ‘three-part’ speech by Cutter. The speech is repeated at the end for effectiveness, and the very last words are, ‘you want to be fooled.’ The very first scene that is shown are 100 identical top hats. All of this suggests that the machine is a sham and the audience has been fooled into thinking the trick is real.

    Of course, you could got back and forth forever trying to find the perfect cookie-cutter solution that makes everything work out perfectly, but I think the point is that there is none. This is a movie of duality, you can choose to believe, or search for the ‘trick’. Neither side can be disproven.

    Reply
  11. @Cicero4PatPro

    So I hate to jump into a heated discusion with a measley 2( and a half) viewings of The Prestige, but I think the machine definately did NOT work. First of all I agree with above that its easy to debate both sides of this movie, but I dont think science plays a part in the explination.

    If this movie was put in a different period, I could maybe believe the advancement of science to the extent of the sci-fi theory. A collapsable bird cage with a metal bodysuit seems possible, but not cloning. Instead I feel like Borden (maybe through the encouragement of johannson) realized he needed some “flare” in his version of the trick, hence starting Angiers infatuation after seeing him at the first tesla experiment.

    Once Angier realizes the machine doesnt work and that Borden fooled him with his (Bordens) fake diary, he begins his OWN fake diary. Angiers fabricated diary have the ONLY instances in which the machine works. The only exception is in Angiers dying speech, and I doubt he would tell his arch rival the truth about his version of the trick just cuz hes dying…

    Ok, so Angiers faked the cloning story, and Borden/Fallon is….well….Borden/Fallon, haha! I think the different personalities of B/F are an interesting plot driver in this flick, I just want to present some of my ideas on them and see what yall think about the double double lifers. One twin was loud, a drinker, and more of a showman. This is the twin that tries the new knot on Angiers wife, seduces the fiery Johanssons, humilates Angiers at his show, and attends the final Angier performance. I’ll from now on call him Borden. The second twin (Fallon) was quiet, calculated, and thoughtful. This is the one that marries Sarah(i think thats her name), gets shot in the hand, and can never recall the knot he tied(cuz Borden did that and he has to cover for him). So although they shared alot of values and goals, they were very different. Thats what lead to the “Whats under that stage, why cant you out think him” arguement from Borden, and the “Just leave it alone, don’t go back” from Fallon (dressed as Borden keep in mind)

    As for how Angier pulls of his version of the trick, this is the part I’m open to some other ideas. Someone presented the idea of wax figurines for the drowned Angiers but I’m leaning towards another theory out there although simmilar. That theory is that there never was an Angier, just a Lord Cadlow (Lord C) and Root. Of course Angier is Lord C because he tells his wife he changed his name early in the movie to do magic. Once I decided to go with the non working Tesla machine idea, this made some amount of sense. Although Root was troublesome, he was great at presentation and mimicking Aingers. After Lord C found out the machine wouldnt work, he brought him back in and used him in his great trick on Borden. He realized how to live the life of his trick like the chinese dude and used Root to accomplish it. Right now, I’m thinking Lord C obviously wanted to be the Prestige performer, so he was always the one in the balcony at the end. Maybe Lord C knew he could kill two birds with one stone by placing the tank directly below the trap door at one show, thus killing Root and framing Borden. After the first cage trick when Borden showed up and sabatoged it, I feel like Lord C was prepared for him to do the same again. Could the blind workers have been just training for whichever night Lord C decided to pull off this feat?

    The last part could be a strech, but I feel like this is more in line with the kind of misdirection and intrigue that the premise of this movie is built on. In my opinion, Angiers/Cadlow won because he did succeed in making everyone (at some point) think that the ordinary can do something extraordinary. The tesla bells and whistle machine captivated Borden (the fiery one) so much he lost sight of how their version of the trick worked, leaving him, and the viewer as the ones wanting to be fooled. Cutter understands what happend with the Borden twin, so he let Fallon(dressed as Borden himself no less) in to kill Lord C. So I feel like its either Root, or a wax double(maybe) in the single tank at the end…..Thoughts?

    Reply
  12. Taylor

    First let me say that normally, I am dramatically in the minority with this theory. But because I wrote this and the visitors coming here are seeking this perspective out, I think this is more widely agreed to than normal.

    Regardless, I want to say that I really do respect anyone’s theory that is well thought out and considered. Take for example Conor. It is rare that I see someone so thoroughly think through the movie like you have. So kudos to you. Ultimately Nolan intentionally defined two potential solutions to the movie and he has pitted the two against each other. Thus our sometimes heated debate over the details between the two. And although I may get animated at times – I still believe that as long as you think it through I’m more than impressed with whatever it is your theory might support.

    @Cicero – nice comments. Specifically your discussion of the differences between Borden and Fallon. Yes, you are correct, they are easily identifiable throughout the movie. So much so we know who died, who lived and we also know alot of the reasons why each did what they did throughout the movie.

    I would like to disagree with one point that you made though. I don’t think Angiers won. But I think you are speaking to the audience of the movie as the real audience of the trick… in which case you may be right. I believe the individual that won was Fallon. Fallon chose not to look at the tanks. He chose not to take the bait. Fallon was the one to say, leave it alone. Walk away – this has gone too far. And it was Borden that lost his life as a result.

    But yes, on a different scale – who took it all the way and completely saw it through even in the face of impending death – yes, that would be Angiers (or Lord Caldlow as you posited.) But over all, I agree with your vantage on the movie 100%. I even liked your take on Lord C’s decision to get rid of Root with the final trick. I don’t know for sure if it would be Root though – but I like your take regardless. Nicely done.

    @ToEveryoneElse – I want this to be a safe place to put forth non-conforming theories. I know what its like to have an idea and have it squashed. Boy do I. So posit away. Just know that I personally think the machine doesn’t work – and that is the perspective I view the movie from.

    Reply
  13. @cicero4patpro

    @Taylor – Thanks for the Consign! After some thought on the who wins thing I see ur side. For the surviving twin, it probably comes down to if he valued his brothers life/career or his daughter the most. Overall its kinda like the spoils of war on both lead characters sides, ya know? For everyone that thinks the machine is real, I’m interested to hear some opposing sides. I think i really lucked out on how I was introduced to this movie. I saw just the ending twice before seeing the whole thing here recently.. I just think the beauty of this movie is what makes most people think the ending sucked. Kinda like when Cutter said Bordens trick was so simple that nobody applauded it at first. So I’m just trying to help folks see it for the great flick that it is. Im starting to like it over inception….

    Reply
  14. JustletgoMC

    Sorry, but you’re way overthinking this movie. You seem too forget one simple but huge thing….. IT’S A MOVIE. Director’s can do whatever they want in a film, and it doesn’t have to make sense, nor does it have to “fit”.

    As far as an explanation of the cloning machine, let’s not forget a major sub-plot in the film; Nikola Tesla, one of the greatest inventors of all-time, had gone into exile because the world didn’t want to accept anymore of his inventions. If you recall he says something alone the lines of “the world will accept an invention that could change the world only once from the same person.” Tesla may have very well invented this machine in the late 1800’s, and no one knew of it, which is explored in the film.

    The machine MOST DEFINITELY is shown to have worked in the film, the flashback scene where he uses the machine for the first time proves this, and too say that Angier was lying about this would be pointless, because as someone else here said, that flashback isn’t an illustration of what Angier is saying, it’s coming directly from Angier’s memories in a flashback.

    Reply
  15. taylor

    Mr. MC,
    It’s all good. We can agree to disagree. But the whole Tesla argument makes me laugh every time I hear it. Yes, I’m well aware of the history surrounding the man. And his infamous earthquake machine, that almost oscillated an entire city to the ground. Got it.

    But there is a HUGE difference between inventing DC and cloning exact replicas of adult humans. Lil bit different. The guy was good. He wasn’t that good. I just don’t buy it.

    As for whether Angier was lying to Borden or not – matter of opinion. The journals lied from beginning to end. Borden lived a life of lies. Angier knew that to keep up with his rival he would have to get his hands dirty too. So yeah… I choose to believe one side of the coin. You can have the other. I even cede it to you… congratz!

    Seriously though – its all good. By my counts you are in good company. Over 90% of film goers agree with you. So that must mean you are right. Stands to reason.

    Reply
  16. Dana

    It’s a known fact, by the way, that the book and movie differ immensely. Just because the machine worked in the book doesn’t mean it worked in the movie (source: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0482571/faq#.2.1.32). The characters, modes of narration, and relationships are completely different. Asserting that Nolan’s decision to change a plot point is far from unthinkable.

    And although I was opposed to the idea that the machine didn’t work originally, I have recently picked up the movie again and must concede.

    A major thing Conor (among others) seem to be forgetting:
    If the machine worked, why didn’t Tesla (who was so low on funds) clone himself up some jewels? Or just cash? No, it makes more sense that he duped Angier out of his money in a state of desperation and Angier, instead of retaliating, took a page from Tesla’s playbook and conned Borden.

    The machine working creates more problems than solutions.

    Haha sorry Taylor; I know I promised you a debate but I think I’ve got to just tip my hat to you now. I hadn’t seen the movie in a while, but your reasoning is sound and your argument valid. I’m watching it for the second consecutive time as we speak.

    There are a FEW stretches, though: like when Borden chains the prison guard’s leg to the table. We all know magicians escape locks, but they’re always trick locks (or they have the keys hidden somewhere on their person beforehand, as Houdini did). This was an actual prison lock. And if he could unlock it, why didn’t he escape instead of letting Angier take his daughter?

    Saying there is ALWAYS a logical explanation for how every trick is done is not true.

    In addition, while your assertion that Angier’s journal (as well as Bordon’s) shows events that either took place differently or never took place at all, it could then be argued that a majority of the movie never took place as most of the narration is straight from the journals. For example, logically, why would Tesla NOT burn the machine but leave it for Angier, then tell HIM to destroy it? Angier was clearly misdirection Bordon. That could not have happened.

    My only problem with the movie, now, is the amount of misdirection. Because the journals are so subjective, it is near impossible to tell what objectively took place and what each rival wanted the other to believe.

    Actually, another problem is the debate over whether or not Angier uses a double again, for his final round of shows. That, and the fact that there are no clues for the fact that the machine doesn’t work (we figured it out based on our knowledge of Nolan as a director and his commitment to themes and exquisite direction, and not cheating audiences). I just wish there was something solid to hold on to, to point at when someone argues that the machine works. The only thing that we could point to is the repetition of “Are you watching closely?” and the beginning with all of the black cats. The movie tries VERY hard to make you believe Angier has gone too far and paid the ultimate price.

    That having been said, I’m open to the idea that I’m missing something.

    Reply
  17. Dana

    Also, if the machine didn’t work, WHY did Angier rip up Borden’s secret outside the prison?? He’s SAYS because his trick is better, but he’s had a better trick (using a double) before, and that never seemed enough. And he’s surprised when he gets shot by Bordon (Fallon). He didn’t prepare that room for Bordon if he didn’t expect him to come.

    (And for the record, the scene where Angier shoots his twin IS being recounted to Bordon. Not a flashback)

    But, as for the proof the machine worked, we have Angeir’s dying declaration as well as the “acts” of the movie: The PLEDGE (the ordinary somethings, the magicians Bordon and Angier), the TURN (Bordon doing a seemingly impossible trick, Angier using the Tesla machine), and the PRESTIGE (Angier coming back in the form of Lord Caudlow, Borden coming back to reclaim his daughter). This fulfills the movie’s thematic promise that every trick has three acts (assuming the machine worked). In that sense, the scifi element does NOT cheat us out of anything. In fact, it makes good on its promise that you must bring the taken thing back.

    Reply
  18. Debbie Honig

    After reading this thread (or 7/10th of it) I agree with Taylor that the machine was a fake. Another solid piece of evidence that not everything in this film actually happened is that we see TWO contradictory drowning scenes of Angiers. One of them is a lie so id venture to guess the same of other parts (i.e. the shooting of the clone)

    Though this opens up a few questions…

    1. If the machine doesn’t work, then Angier is using a double. Why does Borden/Fallon fall for the double trick, when initially, he was able to spot the double ACROSS the theater? Why is Angier no longer concerned about being blackmailed?

    2. WHO does Borden watch dying in the tank? If it’s an Angier double, wouldn’t Borden notice it immediately? Again, he spotted the double from across the theatre but he’s now face to face with him! ???

    3. Who is Angier trying to fool with the multiple tanks at the end of the film? Angier doesn’t KNOW Borden has a twin so he could not have anticipated Borden coming to the warehouse! He believes Borden is in jail or has been executed for his murder. So who is he attempting to fool?

    4. If Cutter wasn’t fooled, why does he seek to destroy the machine?

    Also…I still don’t understand the 2 drowning scenes of Angier/Angier’s double. In the retelling of the scene, Borden/Fallon tries to save Angier but Cutter prevents it. My guess is that the 2nd scene is the real version of events.

    1. But WHY would Cutter prevent Borden from saving his friend?

    2. If the tank was cracked from the hammering, wouldn’t investigators see the crack in the tank?

    Reply
  19. Debbie Honig

    P.S. This discourse reminds me of the blogs following the baffling series finales of the Sopranos…was Tony killed?(I believe he was…but lets not go there!)

    Reply
  20. Dana

    ALSO (this is not mine, taken from another board):

    “-Root had a different nose, ears, teeth and voice, plastic surgery wasn’t particularly common at this time, how could Angier make Root any more like him than he was last time they did the trick?
    -Why did Cutter, the man who discovered and worked with Root to turn him into an Angier-alike not recognise his own handiwork when identifying the body?
    -When they first did the trick, Borden knew instantly that it was a double because Root wasn’t identical. He noticed the differences. How did he lose this ability to judge the differences?
    -When they first did the trick, Angier got fed up with always being under the stage, not being able to accept the prestige, when did he become so selfless?
    -The trick involves Angier talking before and after the machine is used, root sounded nothing like him , how did they work that?
    -Root was kidnapped, tied up, and used as bait, Angier had his leg broken leaving him permanently walking with a limp, why would either of them repeat the trick?
    -What was the water tank doing under the stage on what turned out to be the final performance (which may or may not have been the last planned performance, and there was no opportunity to move the tank under the stage when they realise Borden is going to act on that night)”

    and why did borden use TESLA as the key to his journal, whether or not the machine worked? he wasnt using it (as we were initially led to believe), and he had no defendable reason to know about it.

    lets say the machine works.
    bordon is still allowed to be surprised at angier’s New Transported Man if bordon DOESNT KNOW the machine works (in which case, as stated above, he has no reason to know about Tesla at all)

    lets say it doesnt.
    tesla OBVIOUSLY wasnt advertising the fact that he had this ability or had begun building the machine. it is still as much of a stretch that borden used it as his diary key. it’s just more of a stretch if the machine works.

    the only theory is that bordon did his research (which is rather impressive as there was no tv, radio, internet, etc.) and found out about tesla’s work (none of which directly related to the machine as tesla clearly wanted to keep his work secret) and used it to fool angier into thinking thats what he was using. whether or not angier stumbles upon tesla’s working machine (stretch, as there’s no way bordon could have found out about it in his research) OR he stumbles upon tesla’s con (slightly less of a stretch if we assume tesla planned to pretend to build whatever angier wanted as long as he could keep it up to suck up his money). either way, this rests upon the idea that a man neither bordon nor angier has ever met was willing to patronize angier’s needs.

    im beginning to think the movie doesn’t work whether the machine does or not…

    Reply
  21. Dana

    as for debbie:

    1. cutter may not have relaized borodn was trying to save him. he just saw angier drowing, bordon by the tank, and flipped out. cutter, while he tries hard, is not know for making the most rational decisions: he WAS prepared during julia’s trick in the event anything went awry, but how smart is it to take upon himself the task of cracking open the tank when he’s in his sixties? i feel like if he handed the axe off to wolverine or batman, julia might have made it.

    2. the crack in the tank could have been explained as many things: angier’s escape efforts, cutter’s efforts to break him out, etc. the crack in the tank isnt evidence of bordon’s innocence as there is no way to prove it was made by him, and made by him in an attempt to free angier.

    and YES: the fact that bordon identified the body in the tank as angier’s really solidifies it for me. he wouldnt have made that mistake, even in a moment of panic. cutter also identified the body on the slab as angier.

    angier. died.

    i mean, putting all of your beliefs aside and conceding for the moment (purely for argument’s sake) that the machine worked, what would this movie have to do to prove it to you?? haha. we were given two separate eye-witness accounts that angier was dead, both bordon and cutter, both of whom have been show previously to know the difference between angier and a double quite well. what more could nolan have done to show that he really died?

    Reply
  22. Debbie Honig

    If Borden can recognize Angier up close and there is no cloning machine, we have a problem, Houston, even if it WAS Angier who died in that tank. If Angier WAS the one in the tank, then Angier is dead. But if Angier is dead, who is Lord Cadlow? And if Borden can distinguish between Angier and a double, then why would he believe the Lord Casdlow who visits him in prison is Angier??? In brief, if Borden can recognize Angier, then BOTH the man in the tank and the man who visits him in prison have to be one and the same – Angier!

    A few possibilities i thought up (though all are problematic):

    1. Angier has a twin as well (but then he would have used him in his act and deduced Borden’s trick)

    2. Angier held his breath under water and survived (he practiced after his wife’s death. But seems improbable, when he has no way of knowing how long he would need to keep this up)

    3. Borden/Fallon were fooled the 2nd time around because of the addition of the machine. It gave them a reason to believe in magic. Remember when the club owner said “excuse me but its been awhile since i saw real magic.” (But then why did he go under stage searching for the truth? And why did he state that Angier crossed the world for nothing?)

    4. Perhaps one of the Borden/Fallon’s had better eye sight than the other Borden/Fallon (but they both saw the shows and were baffled).

    Taylor, you’re the guy who concluded Angier’s had a doubles or wax clones…so then how do you reason that Borden was fooled from up-close? And how was Cutter, Angier’s life long angelier (sp?) fooled from up close? And why is Angier’s new trick any more amazing then the trick he performed prior to Tesla..if he’s using doubles the same as before? (The addition of the machine, perhaps? The “dressing it up” into something extraordinary? But then why would Angier/Cadlow tear up Borden’s secret and claim he has the greatest trick in the world? And why would Cutter

    On another note, which Borden/Fallon was the one who was executed?
    The one in jail was crying for his daughter? Yet the one out of jail came to claim the daughter. Even more baffling, if the twin could take care of the daughter, why was he worried that Angier would take the daughter?

    Reply
    • Taylor

      I Know! It was all a dream!

      For the love of all that’s good and holy keep the Inception junk thattaway —> This thing is confusing enough without bringing dreams into it! Hahaha.

      Reply
  23. Taylor

    Holy cow batman!
    Generally I like to dialogue with each individual user point by point. But I obviously created a monster here and I am MEGA-WAY-BEHIND. For some reaon my blog didn’t tell me anyone was commenting out here. So I’m sorry for coming in late. And so I won’t be able to discuss each and every point you both so eloquently make in detail. But I’ll do my best to catch up.

    @Dana – at one point of your discussion (in which you are rather conflicted I might say… going from a firm believer to a serious doubter) you say that the sci-fi explanation of the movie is honest and upright with the viewer and if the machine doesn’t work then we’ve been dubiously tricked and deceived. Sounds like the definition of a magic trick to me. My whole belief is that this movie is quite literally a magic trick from beginning to end. Every visitor to the movie theater and every renter of this movie has been messed with as a visitor to a magic show is everytime. But this concept of being “lied to” is so stinking foreign to movie goers that it just doesn’t compute. Wah? You mean our narrator perspective wasn’t in god-mode? How is that possible? Its because Nolan bedazzled us. Just as Angier bedazzled Borden – and ultimately it cost Borden his life.

    I’ll admit I can’t answer all these details you both bring up. I can answer many of them. But not all of them. But ultimately it DOESN’T MATTER. Let’s say all the readers of this blog decided we would meet up and collectively go on a field trip to a magic show. Right? We watch the show as the magician bedazzles us with trick after trick. Wow. Ooooh. Amazing!

    At the end of the show we head to Starbucks and we talk about the show. Everyone is just giddy with what they just saw. Someone says – “How do you think he levitated that safe? Maybe he used a anti-vortex generator!” And someone else says – “Ooh right
    probably! And what about how he got out of those handcuffs? Maybe he cut his hands off and then reattached them with a self cauterizing vibro-saw?!” And I go – “He didn’t actually make the safe levitate.” And the group goes – “NOOOOOO!” Then I say – “Well, yeah… its just a trick.” And the group goes… “PROVE IT! How’d he do it?”

    And I say – I don’t know how he did it. All I know is that the alternative is impossible. Cloning of adult humans isn’t possible. Never will be. Can’t be done today, couldn’t be done a hundred years ago, won’t be done in another 100 years. Yeah, I’m intrigued with the trick. And I’d like to know how it was done… but ultimately it doesn’t matter how I THINK he did it. All I know is that he did it somehow very clever – and that I’m impressed. Just because I can’t prove it doesn’t mean I’m wrong.

    But I will say this – it does not logically follow that cloning is the sincere answer. It is the one we are lead to believe is the answer. But a magician doesn’t lead us to believe a double is how he is doing his teleportation gig. That just isn’t how it works.

    @Debbie – to your details about Borden’s sudden inability to tell the difference between Angier & Root I just say he finally got his crap together. Was it a new double? Was it Root doctored up? Was it a twin that he’d had all along (Lord Caldlow’s long lost twin – the sequel)? Did he have a talent search with auditions? Who knows? What I find really interesting is that Borden all of a sudden loses his objectivity. Sure, sure the machine sparks, but what is going on under that stage! he says. Something causes him to become an average joe viewer. THAT is the trick. Whatever he did to bait and switch Borden is Angier’s win. And I’m sure the culmination of TONS of work to best his mortal enemy.

    The tanks have never bothered me a lick. The solution to Angier’s trick has never kept me awake at night. I applaud him for finally getting it together. But Dana, I can’t give you the concrete evidence you so obviously need. Just can’t do it. Even if I were to come up with an iron-clad theory – it’d still be that. Theory. But I will tell you this. That machine didn’t work. And it is the most clever long con I’ve ever seen – and its only because the director chose not to tell the audience they’ve been collectively conned. Its brilliance is also a failing because they seem to believe that the smartest director in years now has this bogus, impossible to understand movie in his repertoire.

    IT WAS TOO SMART FOR ITS OWN GOOD.

    Which makes me love it all the more.

    Now as for whether or not Angier died or not… AN Angier died. But I don’t believe it was Angier. Angier became fascinated with how he could get out in front of the crowd at the end of the movie. He was fascinated with getting the praise and the glory he deserved and I believe this was crucial for his final trick. The trick needed to teleport obviously, but it also had to allow Angier to close out the Prestige. And so I think his final trick solved these problems in the same old way. But differently.

    Angier’s double was so convincing, that he was able to pass this guy off as himself for the ever important Pledge and the Turn. And how was he able to do that? I’ll tell you how. He inceived (to steal from a totally different movie conversation) the idea in Borden’s mind that MAYBE, MAYBE, Tesla really did help him clone himself. MAYBE!? And so Borden just wasn’t able to see it even though it was right in front of his face.

    So yeah – I didn’t really answer any of your guy’s question here. But if you just STOP with the crazy details and the crazy inconsistencies we see or don’t see… you’ll realize that it just has to be what happened. Again, I respect everyone for their differing opinions. But this movie either blows rocks hard. Or it is the best movie ever… I mean like, of all time. Its one or the other. And I choose to believe its the best movie of all time. Just saying.

    Reply
  24. Debbie Honig

    >But if you just STOP with the crazy details and the crazy inconsistencies

    Taylor, thanks, but the devil is in the details, don’t you think? Especially where a magic trick is concerned! Otherwise, you would not have watched this film 15 times, in order to lap up every detail. Mind you, after 15 viewings, you SHOULD be able to answer all our questions (damnit!) I personally loved Momento and think Nolan is brilliant. I also think our questions have answers! If this wasnt sci fi, then there has to be a way of addressing these questions. If there isn’t, then Nolan didn’t pull this off. By repeating “watch closely” he’s inviting us to decipher this movie, including all those details. So I think it DOES matter who died in that tank – I can buy into the fact that Angier got a really good double. But with 100 performances, did he drown a new double every single night just in case Borden showed up??? If not, how did he know when to entrap the double (by either changing the lock or giving him the wrong key)? Also, I’m still mystified by Cutter. Did he too believe the machine was the real thing? He seems to much too savvy for that – its contrary to his character – so why the claim that it was built by a wizard and why would he wish to buy it and have it destroyed?

    As for Dana’s response to my questions, I watched the scene again. Cutter was down the stairs and could certainly at least hear Borden swinging the axe. Furthermore, you can tell if glass is cracked from the insider or the outside (maybe forensics was less advanced in the 1800s but still…one would think they could distinguish between a glass tank cracked by an axe from the outside or someone’s bare hands from the inside!). Cutter should have realized Borden was trying to save Angier…Angier did the same thing to try and save his wife. So why grab the axe away from him? And why would Cutter tell a different version of events at the initiation of the trial?

    Reply
    • Taylor

      Debbie –
      There is a difference between nerdgasming over the details and understanding the overall zeitgeist of a movie. Macro vs. Micro. Without understanding the macro intentions of the movie the micro details are irrelevent. That was really my only point. Dude, I mean really, look at my blogs? I’m all about details. But sometimes we get buried in them and aren’t guided by the larger point and the bigger story arc. Fair enough? Good. (By the by, did I say somewhere I’d seen the movie 15 times? Oh I see it now – that was Conor. I have no idea how many times I’ve seen it. That would be impossible to say. I’ve let this movie run in the background for days.)

      As for the double – and the number of dead guys. I’ve always assumed only one person died. One Angier double rather. I’ve just assumed that seeing him come up on stage would be easy to detect. Angier tells his double (whether twin, actor, etc) that they are going to be conning someone and he’s to act like he’s drowning. He gets dunked – Borden isn’t there – gets out and they do it again the next night. On the fateful night – things switch up and somehow the real Angiers makes it impossible to open the tank like normal. Not 100% sure how EXACTLY – but it makes sense. I’d guess it was a swap between a rigged lock and a real lock.

      Why would Angier/Caldlow tear up Borden’s secret and claim he has the greatest trick in the world?

      This tid-bit really fascinated me for the longest time. At first I forgot (back before it was out on DVD) that Angier threw away the solution and I was certain that this proved Angier was still dying to know. But then I saw it again and realized with him throwing away the Prestige to the trick it didn’t prove anything and that Angier really didn’t want to know. But I’ve come full circle on this one. Angier really did want to know – but it was the ultimate showmanship to discard the solution – and walk away. Angier proved the better magician to discard his personal curiosity and to walk away from the solution.

      …this rests upon the idea that a man neither bordon nor angier has ever met was willing to patronize angier’s needs.

      This line of thinking was interesting to me – but hadn’t they both attended a Tesla exhibit together earlier in the movie? I assumed that this was where Borden met Tesla and where he began hatching the ultimate (sub-ultimate – not quite Angier ultimate) con on Angier by sending him on a wild goose chase. Right? Otherwise I think I agree with your logic here.

      But WHY would Cutter prevent Borden from saving his friend?

      I think there is way too much being read into this. But who am I to speak? Personally I saw Cutter pulling Borden away because he was beating the glass with an axe. I thought he might be thinking he may even hack him to pieces? Or it could have just been – dude, quite the act, you’ve already killed him by drowning him. You don’t need to continue the show.

      Who is Angier trying to fool with the multiple tanks at the end of the film? Angier doesn’t KNOW Borden has a twin so he could not have anticipated Borden coming to the warehouse! He believes Borden is in jail or has been executed for his murder. So who is he attempting to fool?

      Angier KNOWS there has to be some solution to the trick other than real teleportation. He doesn’t know its a twin. But he does know that something else is going on – the other shoe has to drop. He isn’t surprised someone comes. He’s surprised that its a TWIN. Very different. That whole scene was the real Prestige of the movie. The real crowd-stopper. The tanks. The work. All for that moment. Ahhh – a TWIN! Look, look behind me! And Fallon wouldn’t do it. (Which leads to the next question)

      On another note, which Borden/Fallon was the one who was executed? The one in jail was crying for his daughter? Yet the one out of jail came to claim the daughter. Even more baffling, if the twin could take care of the daughter, why was he worried that Angier would take the daughter?

      Borden was executed. Fallon lived. This is easy to see. In every scene throughout the movie you can tell which one is which. Christian Bale should have won an Oscar for this brilliant acting job. Just amazingly well done. Now, as to why he wanted Angier to take his daughter that’s a great question. Hadn’t really considered it before. Maybe he knew she’d be better of if Lord Caldlow could watch after her? But that rings hollow. Better yet – he knew that Fallon would exact revenge and take his daughter back. Because Fallon was the father – it just made sense he’d get her at all costs. There’s also been discussion of whether Cutter was tricked. I’ve always assumed he was tricked throughout the movie until the final scene when Fallon collects the daughter. It seems like he finally understands – like it was explained to him finally. No?

      i feel like if he handed the axe off to wolverine or batman, julia might have made it.

      I’ll have you guys know – that there are over 10,000 words here so far in this blog including all the comments. Tons of thoughts and ideas spewing back and forth. And of the 10k words (now I’m sure its closer to 12k) this is the funniest thing I’ve seen. Kudos to you Dana. hahaha.

      Reply
  25. Dana

    haha thanks taylor, this discussion is so great considering how difficult it is to find friends of mine that dont just sigh, give up, and walk away when confronted with debates (especially movie debates)

    as for your assertion that the alternative (cloning people) is so impossible there has to be another solution, like a real-life magic trick, it would make sense if we were discussing a news report. but its a movie. that CAN be a solution (albeit a cop-out) in a movie. as much as i dont want to admit it, and i AM verrrryyy conflicted, i think that the machine worked, even though that still leaves a lot of problems with the movie. its like, the deeper you look, the more confusing everything is. (i dont know if you’ve ever seen Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, but’s there’s a scene where one of the characters looks at a painting in a museum, and becomes fascinated with it. but, the closer he looks, the less he sees, as the picture is beautiful from afar, but when its parts are looked at too closely, he isnt looking at the whole image but weird colored individual parts).

    there are plot/logistical problems with either theory of the movie. inception, at least, doesn’t do that :/ haha i cant tell if i liked the movie more before or after dissecting it. usually, if a movie holds up to my ridiculous scrutiny, i defend it against all comers and it earns a spot in my DVD collection. if not, no matter how it truck me at first, i move on. this confuses me to the point where it seems it’s in limbo (HA!) as i’ve rented the DVD from blockbuster and dont know if i plan on returning it. i might. it’s slowly disappointing me.

    Reply
  26. Dana

    oh and debbie, i know WE know the crack was caused by cutter, but as far as proof to be presented in court goes, it really doesnt help bordon. and cutter certainly wouldnt defend him.

    Reply
  27. Dana

    and taylor, even if the ending of the movie sucked completely, it doesnt mean the MOVIE sucked. there are so many technical, literary, and cinematic achievements in this film that one fraction of the plot (granted, probably the most important) being questionable doesnt diminish the picture as a whole. i liked this movie, whether nolan took the easy way out or not. but it is DVD collection worthy? the jury’s still out.

    Reply
  28. Debbie Honig

    Dana,

    The machine did NOT work. There is no doubt in my mind.

    The last thing Angier says is “the world is miserable, its solid, solid all the way through…if you could fool them only for a second..then you could make them wonder. Then you got to see something very special” There you have it. Angier, himself, saying that the world is solid, that the audience was fooled. If it was supernatural, then the audience would not have been fooled, they’d have seen magic….he’s clearly admitting that it was a trick.

    Then there is the appeal (to the audience) to “look closely”, that magic is making “something ordinary into something extraordinary” both at the beginning and end of the film, which drives home the point. The closing words, to us, the audience: – “now you’re looking for the secret, but you won’t find it because, of course, you’re not really looking. You don’t really want to work it out. You WANT to be fooled” And fooled we were!

    I agree with Taylor, that thematically, incorporating sci fi into the film just wouldn’t make sense. This film is about illusion.

    And one last point – Tesla wasn’t a wizard and he never claimed he was…he was an inventor…and an incompetent one at that!

    Reply
  29. Taylor

    Dana,
    We can definitely agree to disagree on the point that if we ultimately file this movie in the sci-fi section it still is good. The reason is because it fails to follow it’s own internal rules. It then fails to keep it’s promises and ultimately cheats us completely. Thankfully, the movie is so stunningly brialliant 99% of the movie goers missed it. Which makes it EVEN more brilliant in my book.

    Debbie,
    Deliciously well argued. I have made each of these individual points myself but never so artfully done and never so deftly intertwined. So kudos to you. Yes, Angiers is pulling a page out if Hobbes’ playbook by basically agreeing that life is solitary, nasty, brutish and short. And we want nothing more than even a temporary release from the brutish nature of life. Thus the magic trick. Well said Debbie – my hat(s & cats) is off to you.

    Reply
  30. Alex

    All excellent thoughts. Really interesting to read.

    Do just want to mention though that Angier never reads or even looks at Bordens version of the trick. He works so hard to get it out of him in the prison simply to tear it up in front of him as another way of punishing him. He even states to Borden that he doesn’t need it, stating “I’ve beaten you”

    Just letting you know that. Interesting argument, although its possible to read too much into films like these. As most of the film is told through journals, I don’t think Christopher Nolan would have all of it as a falsehood without there being a strong hint otherwise to make both sides of the argument balanced.

    Reply
  31. Dana

    Good point, Alex.

    Debbie: I want to agree with you! And Taylor. You both make sense and I would so like to believe the movie was THAT clever, but I’ve watched it a few times and I don’t think there is enough to explain the tanks at the end. I feel like if it was all a “trick”, and “watching closely” would allow one to figure out the trick (as Sara said, “Once you know, it’s actually quite obvious”), then upon a second or third (or at least a fourth) viewing, one could pick up on clues Nolan left behind to lead us in the right direction (The Uninvited and the Sixth Sense, two of my favorite movies, did this; they played fair with the audience. If you watched close enough, you could come upon the truth. The only difference is that the directors/writers in those movies chose to unravel everything at the end.) I feel like in order for this to work properly, the arugment must APPEAR balanced (Alex) at first, but slowly the truth would come to light and be irrefutable. There is too much conflict here for commit myself to the idea that it was all a trick (as epic of an ending as that would be).

    In short, Nolan makes it TOO difficult to see, put’s TOO many things in the way, and obscures any hope for clarity the viewer may have. That’s not cinematic slight of hand, but downright red herrings that don’t necessarily all add up.

    Taylor: Haha I asked you a question before I think you dismissed as rhetorical. Just as a little thought experiment: What would Nolan have to do to prove to you that the machine worked, if it did? You seem to be so convinced that no amount of evidence would change your mind (even the two eye witnesses that Nolan provides, Cutter and Bordon). What, if placed in the movie, would have made you say “See? It had to have worked.” Just curious.

    Reply
    • Taylor

      Ok – that was a non-rhetorical question – here’s me attempting to answer it. It’s actually quite simple.

      Movie starts with the guys feuding and trying to beat the other. They detail out the magic that they are learning but then one or both start shifting into science or even alchemy. And we see little payoffs here and there showing the real magic working. We see scenes where they sell out to this and go all in at all costs. The magik gets more complex and more powerful. Then we get the cloning machine and the evil / science reaches it’s natural conclusion and voilà – we have clones running here there and everywhere.

      This movie that Nolan gave us though is not that. The only thing we see the two throw themselves into is not just better mechanical trickery but also STAGE CRAFT and STAGE PERFORMANCE. Borden is derided for being the lesser performer. And Angiers is similarly derided for his lame tricks. Both learn from each other and try to better the other in these skills.

      Oh and then they start cloning humans.

      Eh? I really think the one critical thing I can say about Nolan is that he gives his audience too much credit. (I cannot believe I just said that out loud.) but it’s true. He assumes too much. Or he doesn’t give a flying fig. Either way – he missed the mark with this movie only because he didn’t show his hand just a tad more. To American audiences the narrator is god and isn’t to be trifled with. Yet, Nolan triffled away.

      Anyway. Not sure I answered your q – but I gave it a go anyway.
      Tay

      Reply
  32. Dana

    OH one thing: If Angier didn’t know which of his last 100 shows Bordon would come to, and he was using a double (not a clone), why was the water tank (with the real lock) under the stage? Unless he kills a double every night?

    Reply
  33. Dana

    ALSO: There is a good point that if the machine didn’t work, Angier pretended it did to exact his revenge on Bordon. This goes along with why he wrote up his own diary (in response to Bordon’s, which WE see later but that happened, chronologically, before) and had his manservant give it to Bordon in prison–to detail the workings of the machine. Why else would he make it and have it delivered to Bordon? There was nothing else in there that would give Angier satisfaction from Bordon reading it aside from the details of his cloning machine. People would point to the mini-reveal at the end of the diary that Angier knows Bordon is reading it from his prison cell, but he comes dressed at Caudlow later on. Therefore, he didn’t need the diary to do the mini-reveal. It’s only other purpose is to lead Bordon astray. BY THE WAY, the fact that Angier puts in his diary the fact that he knows Bordon is reading it from prison is evidence that it was written after he came up with his revenge plan, making everything in there (yes, including the record of the workings of the machine) subject to question.

    I am so divided!! I keep coming up with evidence for opposite points. This is frustrating me now lol

    Reply
  34. Dana

    i am a huge fan of movies with unreliable narrators (the sixth sense, shutter island <3, fight club, primal fear, the uninvited, etc.) so im not against his practice. in fact, it interests me. i just wish i had something to point to, something solid (but we've gone over that already)

    and i understand completely where you're coming from, how it doesnt fit. but i think that maybe rather than admitting nolan made a semi-inconsistent movie, you're rationalizing away his failings.

    that having been said, you make a good argument for why your theory would make sense, and i totally agree with it. however, i dont see any proof that its what nolan did

    i've got to hand it to you, seriously: this is some intense stuff, and you've made some really great points. usually, im not likely to change my mind in a debate, but i've been questioning my own beliefs. so, as you would say, kudos.

    haha and you did answer my question, to an extent. if the movie had given you more clues along the way that there would be a scifi explanation as opposed to a logical one you would have believed. im going to go watch it again — i just cant accept that nolan left no clues. im going to watch the scene with the tank again haha maybe there's something in the floating angier that will give us a hint its a double.

    Reply
  35. Dana

    eh the machine probably didnt work. apparently the author of the book said, after seeing the movie THREE times, ‘Well, holy shit.’ I was thinking, ‘God, I like that,’ and ‘Oh, I wish I’d thought of that.'”

    hmm.

    Reply
  36. Dana

    you know what, i think the machine worked.

    i believe the “are you watching closely?” wasnt about the “trick” of the movie, but about the art of illusion itself.

    the audience wants to see the trick and be fooled, not what lies behind it. that is the main point of the movie.

    here is the irony: it WASNT a trick that they saw. the “great trick”, the transporting man, is real. and they know it, or want to at any rate. they want to think that one angier went into the machine and the same person came out on the other side of the theater. the truth is, what lies behind it is sick and evil, murder. its not a trick. and this is the biggest trick of all: he has given the audience real magic, and they dismiss it as entertainment. he is willing to do all this for “the look on their faces”. he has become the better magician because of the effect he produces, the “wonder”. it isnt about the trick, the technical apsects, performance, filling seats, or anything else different characters championed throughout the picture. its about the effect, as angier’s final speech details.

    i think i’ve finally made up my mind, and made peace with the thematic inconsistencies (i hope)

    Reply
  37. Dana

    THE MACHINE DIDNT WORK!!

    (okay, im DONE. this is proof. i just saw the movie like five minutes ago. i’ve decided.)

    I have proof this time! Haha! I knew Nolan wouldn’t to that to me (uh, i mean us….)

    we never see anything impossible happen.

    it has been years since cutter sees angier by the time he’s doing his final round of shows. he’s had plenty of time to find/make a new double. and, as the movie’s theme suggests, cutter sees what he wants to see. and as for ackerman, he has a record of being duped (“it’s been many years since i’ve seen real magic”, implying he both believes in real magic and thinks he has seen it before)

    tesla has a track record of making machines that only produce light shows. when we see bordon’s trick (re-vamped with olivia as his assistant), he has boxes kind of like angier’s that create sparks like the machine angier has. but we know bordon didnt use a cloning machine. his machine is just for show. but it produces the same effect angier’s does!
    that’s how bordon knows tesla and how he comes up with the idea to lead angier astray. you were right, taylor, bordon did meet up with tesla at that show we saw early in the film. and he had him build the boxes for effect. he saw the way the audience reacted to tesla’s work. he needed that little extra something to sell his trick.

    and now for the proof:
    it’s a machine, right? a machine produces a result, (arguably) the same one over and over, in the sense that a machine cannot change itself or what it does.

    the machine allegedly creates two angiers, one who drowns and one who somehow gets to the other side of the theater.

    it does this every time, without exception. that’s what it does.

    HOWEVER, on the night bordon is framed, the machine could not have worked. but, we saw it behave just a it did every other time, right? well. the machine produces two angiers. we covered this. on the night “angier” drowns, if a second angier were produced in the balcony in front of everyone and taken his bow, HOW was bordon framed for murder? he couldnt have murdered someone who, at the time he was supposed to have been drowning him, appears in front of an audience of hundreds.

    the night he was framed the machine turns on, shoots sparks, and produces no clone.

    but this is so simple. how did i not notice it before? because. as you said all along taylor, nolan is using misdirection BUT as i said, you should be able to detect it if you watch closely. we never see angier take the bow, or not take it. we briefly see the audience and hear bordon shouting from below, but for a VERY small amount of time. enough to suport the fact that a clone didnt appear, giving us the proof we need, IF WE’RE WATCHING CLOSELY (and the clone couldnt have hid, as at least ONE person in the audience must have seen the show before and would have been looking for it in the spot it was known to have appeared).

    angier had finally become the better showman. in creating his own greatest trick and not letting his obsession with bordon’s method get in the way, he had truly become the better showman. he stepped up his game, got a good double, trained him. it isnt hard to teach someone to speak like him, remember, because angier himself is putting on an accent (he’s the british lord caldlow). he could have trained someone in the art of the accent he’s been practicing for years. living his trick, in a way.

    bordon’s demise was that he couldnt get angier out of his head. he went to that show because he had to. obsessed until the end. angier freed himself of his obsession, exacting his revenge to get some closure. (he’s given up his obsession, as evidenced by him ripping up bordon’s secret. EVIDENCE.) bordon even says to fallon “im sorry. i should have left him to his damn trick” as he’s being taken off to be hanged

    “are you watching closely?” did you notice no clone appears in the final trick? that bordon had a tesla machine that did nothing?(and on a slightly less compelling note, we see tesla walking through his lights/sparks and not being cloned. more evidence that the lights mean nothing. we would need more evidence the machine worked than just seeing someone step through lights)

    and angier was practiced in accents, remember, and had in fact been living his trick all along by taking on a type of persona.

    and the tank filled with angiers? he WAS expecting someone to see them, whether it was bordon or someone else. when fallon sneaks up on him in the darkness, angier shouts “cutter?!”. he thinks cutter is down there with him, or could have been. if people have access to that room, he needs to make it look convincing.

    there is evidence. i just wasnt really looking.

    Reply
  38. Taylor

    Well then, I tip my hat to you. Congratulations on settling the matter for yourself. As a side note – did you watch the special features and notice the scene where Christian Bale mentions how clever the movie is because “the movie, is one, you know. one big magic trick?”
    (note – just went looking for Bale’s exact quote and stumbled upon these 2 other interesting quotes as well: “Nolan suggested that the actors should not read the book.” obviously because they are seismically different). And the 2nd quote – Serkis – who played Tesla’s assistant – described his character as a “gatekeeper”, a “conman”. A con man! Brilliant!).

    Seriously though – pardon the digression – kudos (as you say I say) to you.

    Reply
  39. Dana

    haha thanks. im insane.

    did you really read all of my comments? its painful even for me to read them back haha

    i dont know what time it is for you but here it’s 2 o’clock in the morning. i really am insane.

    Reply
  40. Taylor

    Yes,
    Read them all. In your last post you had a lot of good stuff in it – but 1 thing you said was beyond brill and I’ve never considered it before. Where were the Tesla clones? Cats and hats we got. But where’d David Bowie’s double go? Cats are easy to dupe. Hats – more so even. But obviously there were no ex-labyrinth actors laying out there with the hats.

    2am? Go to bed! Sounds like you had fun watching it this last time. Really goog write up!
    Taylor

    Reply
  41. Critu

    @Dana
    “and the tank filled with angiers? he WAS expecting someone to see them”

    I may be missing you point but what does that mean? I find it elf-contradicting. Where did these Angiers come from?

    Also what makes you think the machine did not work in the final act? It might have. The cloned Angier might just hide after coming out of the box which might have been placed somewhere else.

    (On a side note, I would myself prefer a theory which is based on the machine not working. That would be more linear with what we saw earlier in the film & prevent me from claiming this movie was screwed by the senseles & irrational sci-fi shoved in at the end)

    But I seriosuly think Nolan failed on this one.

    Reply
  42. Dana

    when i said the tank filled with angiers, i didnt mean the tanks were filled with angiers haha i know thats confusing, i meant to reference the theory that “angier” was in the tanks. doubles, wax figures, empty tanks, whatever your theory is.

    saying it worked and the clone hid and snuck out of the back of the theater somewhere is a stretch. remember ally saying he had seen his show in london seven times? people see his shows more than once. at least ONE person in the theater (probably many, many more) would have seen it prior, and would have known where to look for the “clone”‘s reappearance. are we to believe no one saw it appear, go out into the lobby, go around back, etc. dressed exactly like angier? and if anyone, even ONE person saw it, the police would have had them testify at the trial. they were all witnesses, and it IS a murder investigation. they would have made sure.

    also, the suggestion that the box was placed somewhere else doesnt make sense, as we’ve established that there was no way of knowing which of the shows bordon would come to. if the box was placed somewhere where the clone couldnt be seen, what would happen if bordon didnt go to the show that night? there would be no prestige?

    (and as a side not to your side note, i agreed with you 100% until about 2am last night. if you need more convincing, skim a few of the points taylor and i made)

    Reply
  43. Will

    Technically, you’re right. But really, you seem to be only grasping for straws in the FAQ.

    Reply
    • Taylor

      Clarify for me where I was reaching and I’d be happy to firm things up for ya. Watch it again. Read the theory. Voilà – insta-enlightenment just add water. You’ll see.

      Reply
  44. Will

    Although, the points you have made (even though I still disagree) are very good.

    Reply
  45. @Cicero4PatPro

    Hey, stopping back by to see if anything new came up. Taylor knows Im on the machine didn’t work side….

    The tanks and the hats are the same thing folks, they’re the great diversion used by Angier (and Nolan) to make us think the machine is magical.

    Nightly, Root would fall through the floor to saftey, allowing Angier to recieve his ‘Prestige’ n balcony. Root is a better actor when treated well, Ainger made sure of that the second time. Of course Angier knew eventually Borden would come and try to sabatoge his trick, think about how many times they do it to each other throughout the movie!
    Paraphrasing here…but remember this line before the real transporterd man run…
    Cutter: what kind of billing are you looking for

    Ainger: The kind Borden cant ignore

    Ainger/Cadlow is loaded. Buys tanks to be prepared for the night Borden shows up and goes underneath, this is how he can frame Borden, and rid himself of Root, the only other guy knowing the trick. The tank gets moved from center stage to beneath every night, Ainger scopes the crowd then informs blind stagehands of slight change on the special night.

    Ainger never knew about the twin, hence never knowing Borden would arrive to shoot him. If machine worked his monlouge would have started with “your machine worked too!!” At that point Ainger was just preparing to destroy all the evidence(that he bought from the court/police/mourge… including Roots body in the one tank.

    Cheers!

    Reply
  46. Adeeb Wahab

    I think something which may prove that Tesla was planning this con could be the sudden appearance of the mysterious saboteurs. Angiers doesn’t know who they are until the hotel manager “lets” him on the secret that the men have been sent by Thomas Edison. The sabotage provided a convenient excuse for Mr.Tesla to flee.

    Reply
    • Taylor

      The sabotage provided a convenient excuse for Mr. Tesla to flee.

      I totally agree with you Jack. The contrived disappearance of Tesla which coincided with the lab and the experiments being destroyed – and the safe delivery of the “teleporting machine” – is way too much coincidence for me too.

      I think it was more like the perfect time for Tesla to finally cut his ties with Angiers his starry eyed customer. Nothing else makes sense here. Edison as guerrilla activist and saboteur?!? Puh-lease. Angiers was duped by Borden and Tesla. And boy did he (and most of us) bite hard!

      Reply
  47. EM

    If you think that it is ridiculous that Edison was a saboteur then you haven’t studied the early patent wars in the film industry.

    Reply
  48. Taylor

    There is a HUGE difference between waging (and losing) a publicity campaign against AC and burning down someone’s lab. Yeah, Edison didn’t like competition and fought his competitors in the court system every chance he could get – afterall the guy was an opportunist. But it’s a huge distortion of history (and public record) to suggest Edison as being a violent theif and vandal.

    Reply
    • Dissembly

      Hellooo from the future.

      I wanted to add something to the Tesla side of things. There’s a bit of a parallel between Tesla and Borden, and Edison and Angier. The talented poorer underdog who doesn’t know how to sell his stuff versus the ruthless, rich showman who has to hire other people to do the hard work.

      I’m sure the idea of a con against Angier would appeal to Tesla. I don’t know of the historical people were exactly this way, but the movie certainly sets Tesla up as a bit of a talented/hapless underdog facing off a richer and more ruthless man, and it’s the way the movie sets it up that is important for movie-Tesla’s motivation.

      Reply
  49. tombandit

    The majority of these posts have too many flaws to their overall argument. Many have only believed in what they wanted to believe which not only covers the sci-fi side but every side. Some are excellent at explaining their percieved thoery of what happened. However they make the mistake of trying to disprove other theories forgetting that this was a film. A film can be or do whatever it wants to and this one especially exploits this. Some facts become lies while other facts remain facts to suit a given argument. My point being that this has been thought over waaaaaaaaaaaay too much by everyone including me and it ruins the film more than it enhances it. Good to debate but pretty much pointless, even my post.

    Reply
  50. Jared

    #23 and #24 do not make any sense. You are just confusing the storyline even more. It made perfect sense without your theory that no one has ever mentioned before.

    Reply
  51. Walt

    Dear Taylor,

    I am sorry to tell you that you’ve made a mistake in your assumption: Nolan is a genius and because of that, the movie isn’t Sci Fi.

    But I’m sorry to say:
    This movie has Science Fiction elements in it. And even; Nolan wasn’t planning on making a “possible realistic” movie.

    Let me explain the Sci Fi elements:

    The lightbulbs in the field aren’t connected thrue wires, just put there in the ground. This is not possible so, Angier had to lie about it in his journal.
    The capacitor joke, when Angier is holding a lightbulb and Tesla touched him. The bulb begins to glow. This is also not possible because we humans aren’t capacitors. If we were capacitors the bulb should faded slow to no emission of light all. Also this example could be a lie of Angier.
    The third example isn’t in the journals at all. It’s about the Tesla machine. I don’t know if you ever felt a shock of a low power sparkling plug. But if you have you know that your finger isn’t further away from the plug than lets say a tenth of an inch, and when the sparks go over you feel pain.
    So what will happen if you take a giant sparkling plug very high powered and put 2 yards away from you. And consider that the pain will will increase exponentially.
    In other words you have a great chance of getting killed. And you definitely couldn’t walk thrue it like nothing is happening.

    So jumping to conclusion, a lot of machines which Tesla made in this movie are Sci Fi.

    Now, if you assume that you’re dealing with a Sci Fi movie. I think it isn’t that hard to believe that the machine worked. Actually if it did it would explain the whole movie, if you understand context.

    for example about the sentence “You want to get fooled”; this only said because, if the public saw something which had only a supernatural solution than they get scared instead of being amazed. That’s why the director said “make it questionable”.

    regards,
    walt

    Reply
  52. taylor

    Hey there Walt,
    I understand your argument but I don’t buy it. But its well thought out and makes sense.

    So personal question for you. You think it logically follows that he realistically cloned himself as an adult human, memories and all, and then proceeded to kill himself? You are ok with that answer? I personally am not. But I’ve made that clear already. I am though, interested in your response to this question.

    Thanks for writing your logical flow… it really is good. Just faulty in its leap.

    Taylor

    Reply
  53. Walt

    Hey Taylor,

    I actually belief that Nolan wanted us to think about this movie and tryed to make it “doubtable” for us to see it as a realistic movie. And I think he gave us some arguments for both cases. The movies seems realistic and definitly doesn’t look Sci Fi. But he put in some Sci Fi elements(I don’t know if he was aware of that). But it gives us 2 probable concepts to explain the movie.

    1) It is a realistic movie and the Sci Fi elements are just special effects (or Nolan didn’t know this were impossible actions).
    2) It’s got Sci Fi elements which are scientificly impossible. So that makes the cloning device definitly plausible.

    These to eaxplanations are both plausible, but what are the consequences for these explanations?

    What if the first is true:
    Where does that leave Angier? He had to make a choice between; having the greatest trick on earth and killing himself everytime he does it, or lose the battle to borden/fallon.
    He chooses the first. I think that’s a way harder choice as borden and fallon had, chopping of 2 fingers which offcourse is also dedication to your trick, but nothing compared to Angiers dedication.

    That means that Nolan wanted to shock you with the following; are you actually prepared to give your own life to be the best?

    What if second is true:
    The movie would the most clever movie there is in my oppinion, Nolan seduced almost everyone to the wrong path of explanation. And that only a few (2%) actually knew his true intentions.

    So which one is correct?
    The first one? which gives us a philosophical question at the end, what a lot of great (Nolan) movies do.

    Or second one which means that this movie is a piece of art which almost no-one fully understand.

    I think we’ve to ask Nolan. You?

    Walt

    Reply
  54. HangMikeVick

    I agree that there must be more to this movie than a simple science fiction explanation, but I have to point out that a couple of your arguments are wrong. After your 25 points you ask, “Why would Angier want to know the secret if he created a better trick with the cloning machine?” Curiosity of course. He would want to know how Borden did the trick without the use of a machine. Without “cheating.”

    Second, you ask, “Why would Borden be flummoxed by Angier’s trick?” Thats simple. He never knew a real cloning machine existed. The one that Tesla made for Borden was merely for show and misdirection. All it did was shoot sparks. Borden didn’t have the money to buy a real cloning machine.

    Reply
  55. Trollololol

    @ Walt,

    Just for the record; the Tesla experiments depicted (powering bulbs through ground current, using the human body as a conductor for a light bulb, and tesla coils) are all possible and have been done. Don’t believe me? Go on youtube.

    @Everyone else,

    I don’t want to add my two cents about this debate. I can’t develop a theory that satisfactorily explains all the details. I’d tentatively side with those that believe the machine DOESN’T work, but I don’t buy many of the arguments advanced regarding this hypothesis. Note that we see three dead Angier’s, not TWO. There is the one who drowns in the tank and subsequently appears on the slab, the one who is shot, and the one in the tank in the closing scene. This invalidates the Root/Lord C theory, because it leaves a body unaccounted for (not to mention all the flaws about that theory mentioned by others). The wax dummy theory etc etc is also invalid because we have two instances where a living Angiers is observed to die (the tank drowning, and the shooting).

    It is a complete cop out to take the whole “macro vs micro” approach and ignore these details. The opinions I have read here concerning the wider ideology of the film are largely informed by personal opinion. It is a film that invites analysis, and as such, it can only be viewed as a success if it is possible to extrapolate the answers from the clues provided to us, without outlandish hypotheses (AKA wax dummies, Angiers having a twin etc: this is grasping at straws). I agree however, that a sci fi answer is unsatisfactory and seems to run counter to the whole “you want to be fooled” refrain.

    I personally think that people are over committed to the idea of Nolan as some genius director who is incapable of delivering the same lazy plot conventions that commonly accompany blockbusters. The final twist – the shot of a body in the tank at the end is there to ensure that the whole thing is fundamentally unsolvable and to cause the movie to be the focus of more debate than it merits. It’s a bit like the spinning top at the end of Inception; thats the real trick. Directors want their movies to be enigmatic, and they know that the best/easiest way to achieve this is to incorporate enough logical inconsistencies into the plot that the riddle can’t be solved, but not enough that viewers can’t at least attempt to overcome them. If this is what is going on here, then it is a good movie from a competent director, but not a great movie — it is slightly lazy.

    Because I am an eternal optimist I look forward to checking back here and hopefully finding that someone has advanced a theory that allows all the clues to slide neatly into place with no straining of interpretation. Unfortunately from what I have read up to this point, that seems unlikely. A couple of posts came close, but no one is being intellectually honest enough to actively confront the inconsistencies raised by either side. Facts and clues are used to support an argument, and inconsistent facts are ignored under the guise of not being too caught up with facts, or they are overborne by sub-theories and speculation that completely stretch the plot. In many cases they are just ignored outright with no explanation given.

    As a parting note to Taylor: If you do reply to this, please refrain from patronizingly applauding my ability to have, and argue for, an opinion. I’ve seen a lot of that strewn throughout the comments and to be honest I’d prefer any response to be frank to the point of abrasiveness. Yes, its great that people have opinions. Yes, people can hold contrary views and nevertheless both argue well to support said views. We get it. I just don’t like seeing this sort of masturbatory flattery coupled with statements that clearly indicate you believe you are 100% correct and hold the higher ground in this debate. Examples: “Thankfully, the movie is so stunningly brialliant 99% of the movie goers missed it.”, “I really think the one critical thing I can say about Nolan is that he gives his audience too much credit.”, “Clarify for me where I was reaching and I’d be happy to firm things up for ya. Watch it again. Read the theory. Voilà – insta-enlightenment just add water. You’ll see.”, “Regardless, I want to say that I really do respect anyone’s theory that is well thought out and considered. Take for example Conor. It is rare that I see someone so thoroughly think through the movie like you have. So kudos to you.”

    you can’t have your cake and eat it too – either join my camp and be a straight out obnoxious bastard, or let the condescension slide…

    /rant.

    Reply
  56. Taylor

    Troll,
    I will never join your camp as deconstructionism is easy and doesn’t require a lick of thought to do. Positing a theory for others to dismantle, now that is what requires thought and intellectual honesty.

    If I have come off as condescending, that wasn’t my intent – most people that consider this movie for the first haven’t even once considered that the machine doesn’t work. Not once. Poll ten of your friends randomly and I guarantee you that you’ll only come up with one or two that have considered this possibility on their own.

    And lets get one thing straight, I know I’m not right. Nolan has made it clear that I can’t be. But the alternative is equally incorrect. The evidence is stacked against both arguments simultaneously and neither one can be definitively correct.

    As for the macro/micro discussion that was 100% taken out of context. I have already put forward my theory on how it worked. The micro side note was only a side comment to keep people from missing the forest for the trees.

    That is about all you are going to get from me until you positively put forward a relevant theory we can all dismantle and consider critically. Quit taking the easy road.

    Reply
  57. KombatKing

    Hey Taylor,

    #23 and #24 don’t make sense as typed; I think you mean:

    23 – “Angier” attempts to get Borden to notice his surroundings – Borden doesn’t bite.

    24 – “Angier” dies and Borden is reunited with his daughter.

    Anyway, I ALSO don’t think the cloning machine worked – that was Tesla’s con on Angier. If the machine had worked, then every copy made (after the first one) would have known that he had the possibility of drowning. Even though he was a exact copy, the living clone (or the real Angier) would have retained the memory of how the trick worked and thus the earlier clone’s death on the previous night.

    If the machine truly worked, it would have been impossible for the clone (or Angier) to have been suprised that they wound up in a dunk tank. Furthermore, I strongly belive that if Angier had ANY chance of falling into that tank, he would have definitely made a way of escape (i.e at least a key-type system similar to the one his wife used in her trick).

    Despite his dedication to his craft, there is no way that Angier would chance killing himself or letting a clone continue living his life – which is why he had the gun as an “insurance policy” during his tall tale of relaying how the machine worked the first time.

    It would be plausible for me to believe that Angier and Root had been performing the trick nightly (perhaps with an escapable water tank) and that Angier double crossed Root by putting a sealed tank in place the night he spotted Borden attend his show. That would explain the suprised look on Root’s face as he realized he wasn’t getting out of the tank that night.

    However, if the machine did NOT work, then the hardest part for me to explain/accept would be the ending – where they definitively showed Angier’s body in one of the tanks. If indeed it’s a “3rd Angier”, then at this point, only 2 theories are possible.

    1) Angier somehow got Root’s body from the morgue/cemetary and had him placed in one of the tanks (doesn’t explain the air bubble, but it’s plausible).

    2) Angier also had a twin brother (I doubt this).

    So in the end, this could all be a bunch of drivel. The machine could have worked and if so, Angier did end up killing multiple copies of himself to exact his revenge and then unfortunately met an untimely demise. Thus, all of his copies died with him… save one that was breathing in a tank at the end – air bubble ftw, lol.

    ~KK

    Reply
  58. Taylor

    Hey there KK awesome comments and good catch on the outline – much appreciated. Actually, what I meant was:

    23 – “Angier” attempts to get “Fallon” to notice his surroundings – Borden doesn’t bite.

    24 – “Angier” dies and “Fallon” is reunited with his daughter.

    I love how you detailed out what the clone would have and wouldn’t have known. Which proves it even more clearly for me. I mean really? Cloning adults, clothes and all? And MEMORIES to boot?!? Even today our “cloning” capabilities amount to fetus duplication from a DNA standpoint, let alone at the atomic level.

    BUT its science fiction – anything is possible! So even though we’ve been taught how the magic worked, how the turn lead to the prestige… how every magic trick ever done was accomplished… somehow we forget all of this and now we are suddenly watching a science fiction movie?!? I just don’t buy it because it doesn’t logically follow.

    Now as for the “problem” of the machine not working – and the third Angier… If this is the only problem this theory has we are doing well. I normally don’t like trying to answer this because it’d destroy the show of the magic trick. The entire movie is a magic trick and the fun of it is being amazed that he put the sawn lady back together again. But to find out how the movie actually works makes it mundane! Like take for example the trick of the bullet catch. Once Borden’s wife is told how the trick works she is visibly disappointed. Right?

    Regardless, I think there are several very plausible possibilities as to how the problem of the third Angier could be realistically resolved.

    1. Madame Tussauds – much is made of that silly air bubble! Gah! It drives me crazy. Take a rock – drop it into a tub of water and I’ll be darned if it won’t have air bubbles on it. Especially in the concave locations (like a nostril). But I digress.

    In this theory it could be that Angier created a wax figure for the tank(s). Who’s to say that only Madame Tussauds can make them? Would it be tricky? Yeah. Doable, sure. But obviously there still needs to be a double for the trick itself…

    2. A Borden One Up – like you mention KK – it very well could have been a twin. We see evidence of duplicity within Angiers’ life with his initial coyness regarding his fascination with the title Lord Caldlow while talking with his wife. We also see this play out towards the end of the movie as Lord Caldlow comes and goes to Borden in prison. Was it because he’d already done it? He’d had a twin all along? Was it really Angier playing Borden as the dunce by giving his nemesis all the extra line they wanted? Was it a case of the triple con? Not just a double back? Difficult, sure. Possible, definitely. Coincidental in the extreme – yes. But possible.

    3. Calling All Doubles! – So who’s to say Angier, on his world wide trip didn’t put out a search for an identical twin of his? It only took him a couple days to find someone that (save for the teeth and the ears) was the spitting image. Why couldn’t he do it again? Especially since we don’t know how long he took to return from America. And this time he chisels on his imperfections a bit and squares him away even better than he did with Root’s. Difficult – somewhat, but not that difficult considering.

    —-

    Regardless of the answer I believe that Angier saw his solution to the trick as settling and that he HAD to get back at Borden for his having the perfect magic trick. He really didn’t know how Borden did it in the end. Thus the surprise on Angiers face as Fallon explained how they did it. But this shows that Angier was just blindly wielding revenge because he’d been beaten, not because he wanted to actually create the best magic trick.

    I think it is fair for people to be incensed and outraged to hear that a director lied to them. That the narrators were jaundiced and less than impartial. I get it that many of you become enraged at the thought that an American Movie would be capable of something so disingenuous. And so, no matter what, you have to believe in the magic trick because believing the alternative is unconscionable. Unimaginable.

    That’s fine. I’m ok with that. But realizing the movie for what it really is, is infinitely more gratifying and satisfying than settling for the Magic Trick As Truth theory. But that’s just me.

    Reply
  59. Dana

    okay, im going to do what my professors do when we give analytical theories on a work: WHERE in the text does it say something to support your theory?? you need to back it up with evidence. saying that the machine didnt work is fine, but only if you can supply hard evidence from christopher nolan, not just implications from the theme or your belief that it HAD to happen one way for the movie to fit your conception.

    Reply
  60. Taylor

    Hehehe,
    Well to be honest, if you’ve read this page and you don’t buy it then we can just agree to disagree. I totally understand why you – and others like you – don’t want to see it because the magic trick is easier to believe. Its more palatable. He told us that aliens abducted him and transported him to the balcony – so it must be!

    Again, we can agree to disagree. No worries here.
    Taylor

    Reply
  61. Matt

    @KK The moment after the trick, the two Angiers wouldn’t have known which one was which. Both would have exactly the same memories, and both would feel like they were the real Angier. So, to the clone who was born during performance 37, he would remember being teleported 37 times. Only during performance 38 would he fall into the tank. Thus Angier’s “I never knew if I would be in the tank or in the prestige,” speech. This is why he would have been surprised. He remembered surviving 37 (etc.) times, and finally he drowned.

    @Taylor One flaw in your argument is the assumption that Angier is playing a trick on Borden by killing Root. He would have had no way to anticipate Borden going backstage on that particular night so as to drown his double. Another problem is that Angier isn’t telling us about him shooting his clone after the flash of light, Nolan is. Angier doesn’t mention that experience at all. Nolan was showing that to us as a reveal.

    This idea is based on the “in cahoots” nod between Borden and Cutter at the end of the film:
    What if Borden 1 (the one who loved Sarah, and the one who survived) was ready to live a normal life? He wants Borden 2 (the one who loved Olivia and was hanged) to stop pursuing Angier, but Borden 2 has basically become Angier (totally obsessed). So, Borden 1, in cahoots with Cutter, sets Borden 2 up. This is why Cutter stops Borden 2 from axing the tank. This is why Cutter testifies against Borden 2. I understand that this argument has flaws, but as you’ve stated all do.
    This is exemplified by the fact that there has been provided no explanation, by any theory, that satisfies why Angier’s clone failed to appear in the prestige on that night. The idea that Angier was tricking Borden would require omniscience. The apparent plotline doesn’t explain it. It can’t have been Root. Either Borden would have noticed it was him at some point through the entire show up until then, or Cutter would have noticed at the morgue (it was noted that Root didn’t have Angier’s ripped physique). This, I believe, is a case of Chris Nolan fridge logic. This error was avoided in the book, but Chris needed the insane reveal, and so he made Angier omniscient for a night.

    So.

    I assert that, much like a magic trick, Nolan presents us with a reality (in which SF tech exists), and we look for something much deeper, thus supplying us with wonder and fascination.

    Plus, you can see other dead bodies and silhouettes in the tanks. When Borden accuses Angier of making no sacrifice, Angier tells him to “look around.” That’s because his sacrifice was walking into the machine every night.

    The moment where I was convinced of this is when Cutter tells Angier about what drowning is really like. Angier had justified killing off his clones like this by thinking they were “going home.” Cutter told him that he had tortured all of these men.

    Oh, and P.S.
    In the book, the machine works. Although differently than in the movie, it does work.

    Reply
    • Taylor

      @Matt – Let’s take this bit by bit…

      @Taylor One flaw in your argument is the assumption that Angier is playing a trick on Borden by killing Root. He would have had no way to anticipate Borden going backstage on that particular night so as to drown his double.

      This really isn’t that difficult to understand. Borden walks right up onto the stage and inspects the machine with a cheezy beard thing on. Really? It wasn’t that hard to see that he was standing there on the stage in front of everyone. At that moment Angier has the fake lock replaced with a real one. And voila, the Root Facsimile is an ex-parrot.

      Another problem is that Angier isn’t telling us about him shooting his clone after the flash of light, Nolan is. Angier doesn’t mention that experience at all. Nolan was showing that to us as a reveal.

      No, you are incorrect. Angier is speaking to Fallon (your Borden1) about how he did it… and we see a visualization of what he is saying outloud to Fallon. Watch it again. Sure, the scene isn’t being read from the books and narrated as the other passages are. But it is being told to Root via Angier while laying there on the floor.

      As far as your Fallon/Cutter theory goes, its very clever. I like it on a lot of levels. It really is a very elegant but causes more problems than it solves at the end of the day. Sure, it explains Cutter stopping Borden and the Cutter testimony but if you follow the logic of it then its Fallon killing Borden in the tank that night. Not only does Fallon need to be omniscient he also needs to be omnipotent! Flip! How is Borden’s brother going to pull that little maneuver off? I think the relationship could have coalesced between Fallon and Cutter after Borden had been put in jail for the murder. Or maybe Cutter innately understood this when he saw Borden smacking on the tank with an ax and held him back? And it was a more organic playing out of this theory as opposed a premeditated play.

      In the book, the machine works. Although differently than in the movie, it does work.

      This is widely understood. Nolan also asked the actors NOT to read the book. And why would that be do you think? Bale disregarded this advice, but Nolan requested this anyway all the same. I personally think he did that because Nolan walked so far away from the original text that he didn’t want to muddy their minds with a science fiction approach. But that’s just me.

      Allie, I’ll respond to you later tonight hopefully!
      Taylor

      Reply
      • Tom

        The answer is possibly given away in the very first shot of the film. It focuses on the pile of allegedly copied hats, whilst asking “are you watching closely?” – the magician’s phrase which coincides with misdirection. The film flat-out tells us that the pile of hats are a misdirection before telling us anything else. If the hats are a misdirection, then the machine doesn’t work. After it failed the first time, Tesla & his assistant could have bought a load of identical hats and piled them up in the woods before the second visit and the cat demonstration, which also doesn’t work. Either the same cat went over to the pile of hats after it left the building, or they got another cat and left it there. Tesla’s assistant also engages in a bit of misdirection by appearing to distrust his boss and be afraid his pet cat will be hurt, which is more than a little incongruous with his usual relaxed behaviour in the lab.

  62. Allie

    Hi Taylor,

    I’m still of two minds on the whole cloning vs double debate. The thing that still keeps me hooked on the cloning idea is the scene where Cutter is showing the track to the investor and he says something along the lines of “but where the prestige” then Angier shows up behind him and he looks startled and says “forgive me it’s been a while since I’ve seen real magic” he then says something about them needing to dirty it up a bit so that the audience can really beleive it’s a trick. I guess it’s simple enough to explain that all away by saying that particular scene was narrated by Angier’s Diary and therefore a lie…idk

    Also why would Cutter be supprised to find Angier alive? Even if he was at the front of the house and not able to see the trick performed, Cutter knew there was only one way that the trick was performed and that was with a double. He couldn’t have been that suprised that Angier would go as far as to kill someone to get revenge; he’d been watching him sink further and further into darkness for years. And this part isn’t narrarated by anyone.

    Cheers on a theory that’s really made me think! I’ve been wondeing about this movie for years and it came back on TV last night.

    Another thing that’s bothering me and the main reason for chiming in is the scene with Sarah and her nephew. Taylor, (or anyone) Do you have any idea what’s going in the scene when Borden follows her home and wants to go inside but she refuses then we see the other twin is waiting in the apartment? Is it that Sarah and one of the twins always knew that she knew the secret? At first it seems like the twin the loved Sarah followed her home and this is how they met but then it seems like the twin that loved her would be the one already in her apartment. This has bothered me for so long….Did I miss something?

    Reply
    • Taylor

      I’m still of two minds on the whole cloning vs double debate. The thing that still keeps me hooked on the cloning idea is the scene where Cutter is showing the track to the investor and he says something along the lines of “but where the prestige” then Angier shows up behind him and he looks startled and says “forgive me it’s been a while since I’ve seen real magic”

      I don’t really see this interaction with the investor as being any different than Angier’s own belief in the machine before he found out it really did nothing. Ooooh… cats! And Hats! WOW! But ultimately he realized he’d been conned after taking possession of the machine. If the investor had been given the chance at fiddling with it a bit he’d realize its just more of the same with amped up electricity. hehe.

      Also why would Cutter be supprised to find Angier alive? Even if he was at the front of the house and not able to see the trick performed, Cutter knew there was only one way that the trick was performed and that was with a double.

      This is a good question – but I’ve always assumed that Cutter was surprised that Angier was the one who survived. That there was either a twin involved or he was able to finally figure out how to end up at the front on the stage for the Prestige. I saw it more of a shock at seeing THE Angier again.

      Cheers on a theory that’s really made me think! I’ve been wondeing about this movie for years and it came back on TV last night.

      Good to hear its pushing it a little bit for you. I just enjoy talking through the details and the nuances. I really do believe I am right and that this is what Nolan intended (as opposed to Nolan’s open ended ending of Inception). But that is almost irrelevent – the conversation is good and especially when people are open enough to dialogue on the theory’s details as opposed to just throwing grenades and running.

      Another thing that’s bothering me and the main reason for chiming in is the scene with Sarah and her nephew. Taylor, (or anyone) Do you have any idea what’s going in the scene when Borden follows her home and wants to go inside but she refuses then we see the other twin is waiting in the apartment? Is it that Sarah and one of the twins always knew that she knew the secret? At first it seems like the twin the loved Sarah followed her home and this is how they met but then it seems like the twin that loved her would be the one already in her apartment. This has bothered me for so long….Did I miss something?

      On my first couple viewings this had never really crossed my mind… but I know what you mean. Once I realized that they switched places it almost seems like the wrong person made it onto the stage at the end of the prestige of this particular trick. (Almost like what we were talking about with Angier moments ago!) But I really do think Fallon said to his brother something ahead of time like – “Borden, that woman… she’s gorgeous. You have got to help me with this one!” Borden then does the after show chat and begins the wooing while Fallon goes to her apartment ahead of them and climbs in through the window. And Voila! Or vice versa. They did end up living the rest of their marriage like this anyway. Thus the power of Sarah’s suicide later on. The guys really did jack with her, no matter how true Fallon’s love for her was.

      But that’s just my own take on how that went down. But you are right, the romantic in us says – HEY WAIT A MINUTE!

      Reply
  63. Matt

    Hola, hola

    “This really isn’t that difficult to understand. Borden walks right up onto the stage and inspects the machine with a cheezy beard thing on. Really? It wasn’t that hard to see that he was standing there on the stage in front of everyone. At that moment Angier has the fake lock replaced with a real one. And voila, the Root Facsimile is an ex-parrot.”

    While they’re choosing people Angier is standing there, on stage, with his eyes closed, unless he’s mysteriously backstage and out of sight from everyone and the person onstage is Root… Then he changes the locks somehow, because he was waiting for Borden to show himself… This is adding problems to the original ones. Assuming that Angier, from his super-perch beats Borden downstairs (even though normally he’d have to be up on the balcony to accept the applause), then changes the locks, Angier/Root who falls into the tank never attempts to use the fake lock, to find out that it’s been replaced by a real one, he just looks surprised. The new explanation has more holes than the old one. Oh, another hole in your old explanation. According to everyone, Root couldn’t impersonate Angier’s voice. Especially not to perfection. And this is the final trick in Angier’s show, so Root would have had to have been onstage for the entire show impersonating Angier perfectly for your theory to be right. That, in addition to the fact that Borden recognized Root instantly the first time, and he would have again the second time, makes the idea that it’s Root utterly unsupported.

    Oh, and in regards to the beard: Angier didn’t figure out that Fallon was Borden until his final breaths, when it was pretty cheezy.

    “No, you are incorrect. Angier is speaking to Fallon (your Borden1) about how he did it… and we see a visualization of what he is saying outloud to Fallon. Watch it again. Sure, the scene isn’t being read from the books and narrated as the other passages are. But it is being told to Root via Angier while laying there on the floor.”

    The last thing Angier says to Borden1 is “It takes everything.” Then the scene in question. Then “It took courage…” There is no explanation. You said it yourself, on all the other clips there was still narration. That’s because the characters were speaking during the other clips. Angier wasn’t telling Borden1 about that incident with the clone, Nolan was telling us. They wouldn’t have established a pattern of cut scenes with dialogue over them just to break it randomly and for no reason.

    The whole Borden1 vs. Borden2 thing was a joke to illustrate that we can make up crazy plots all we want. The one that makes the most sense is the one most readily apparent. Everything is as it seems.

    And as I said earlier:
    Plus, you can see other dead bodies and silhouettes in the tanks. When Borden accuses Angier of making no sacrifice, Angier tells him to “look around.” That’s because his sacrifice was walking into the machine every night.

    “This is widely understood. Nolan also asked the actors NOT to read the book. And why would that be do you think? Bale disregarded this advice, but Nolan requested this anyway all the same. I personally think he did that because Nolan walked so far away from the original text that he didn’t want to muddy their minds with a science fiction approach. But that’s just me.”

    You’re ignoring the fact that it’s already a science fiction movie. Crazy electricity that doesn’t hurt anyone, the POSSIBILITY of clones, the suggestion of clones, the lightbulbs in the snow, the human superconductors, etc.

    I think your theory is fun, but it’s grasping at straws.

    Reply
  64. Matt

    Oh, and I forgot to mention that the body in the morgue was Angier’s not Roots. Root was referred to as “not Hugh Jackman ripped” (paraphrasing) earlier, and the dead body is cleary Hugh Jackman ripped. Also, without any makeup on, or any of the crazy shit Cutter was putting on Root’s face, Cutter would have realized it was Root. They all would have.

    Reply
  65. johan

    This is the first Nolan film which actually seemed pretty straight forward to me…I had heard a lot about various theories and options, but I to me it just seems like what we see is what we get…

    It doesn’t make sense to make all this other stuff up. I could make a pretty convinving argument that this entire story is about two men who struggle with multiple personality disorders, but its not. What happened was that the machine worked, Hugh Jackman couldn’t get over his lover’s death (its pretty important that his repetitious suicide happens in the exact same fashion as his wife’s), and that his demise was brought upon his obsession for revenge and some really crazy ass Tesla machine.

    I would say that given the historical accuracy along with the parallels with the REAL Nikolai Tesla, the machine was working properly. Jackman thinks hes going to get win, but the prestige is that while his life disappears, Borden’s re appears…

    Reply
  66. Carson

    Explanation of the end:

    I too believe that this is a movie that is what it is. The plot is complex and genius, but once pieced together, it just… is. There are no theories necesary.

    If you remember, Angier has 100 performances planned. In my opinion, this is key. It has been my assumption that Angier /knew/ that Fallon couldn’t resist coming, and that the night when Fallon went below stage, /that/ was the 100th performace. He had it planned not to appear on the balcony. He had it planned for Fallon (well, Borden to him) to find his body and be convicted of murder. Then Angier would go and live out his life as Lord Caldlow, taking Borden’s daughter and exacting a sickly revenge. Fallon was the one who ended up in jail. The clones were real. Borden loved Sara, Fallon loved Elizabeth. The end.

    Reply
  67. Taylor

    Carson!
    Absolutely brilliant post until here:

    The clones were real.

    Otherwise spot on my friend. Keep up the great comments!

    Seriously – I’m mega cool being the odd man out with this theory. But I must say this to those of you who disagree with me. Why are you searching for this stuff on the interwebs? If you are right – then this is the lamest piece o’ crap film making to even hit celluloid. Worse than Ishtar bad. So here’s a question to all you ‘the machine worked’ fans – what’s your excuse for liking this movie since you are right and the movie makes no logical sense what so ever? Just curious.

    Thanks!
    Taylor
    Taylor

    Reply
  68. Carson

    How does believing that the clones are real cause the movie to be an illogical mess? I find the movie to be brilliant, and the plot is fun to piece together. But I don’t feel that this movie is hiding anything. Aside from the genius plot, the movie is exactly what it says it is. The problem is that you are trying to prove your theory with objects your own making. You can only use the facts that the movie presents to you.

    Then again, I read the comments on your one Inception theory, and you even admitted that once you make a decision, you won’t accept other people’s theories, so its probably not even worth arguing.

    Reply
  69. Taylor

    Carson,
    Sorry – I thought it was obvious. The Prestige lays out for us the mechanics of magic trick of magic trick. We see intimate details of how the following tricks actually work:

    1. The Water Tank
    2. The Bullet Catch
    3. The Canary cage
    4. The Chinese Fishbowl
    5. The Teleporting Man

    Etc Etc etc. We are introduced to the concept of the engineer and why the engineer is so important to the magician. We learn how the mechanics of the magic trick work with the details around the Pledge, the Turn and the Prestige. We are taken into the inner sanctum of the hallows of the halls of magic…

    And then we are given a Science Fiction ending.

    The PLEDGE – We see an ordinary Man
    The TURN – We make the man disappear
    The Prestige – We tell you ET is real

    Yes. I like a good sci-fi movie. This isn’t my point. (Which by the way, if you haven’t seen Primer, see it pronto). This movie is not a science fiction movie no matter what anyone says. It just isn’t. And if it is then Nolan should be drawn and quartered… then eighthed… then sixteenthed.

    That makes zero since at all. None.

    The movie is a magic trick. Plain and simple. And the bulk of audiences have bought that the woman cut in two really was severed and then she was miraculously healed inside the box as well. That’s fine if that is what you want to believe, but that isn’t what happened. The movie is an optical illusion – and while that may feel unsatisfying to most – it is the only thing that makes sense.

    Until next time.
    Taylor

    Reply
  70. Carson

    I would believe that the machine did not work, but there is simply no sufficient evidence to support such a theory. By the way, just a quick disproof of one of the possible explanations… An Angier twin? Really? If Angier had a twin, he would never have needed Root to start with.

    Reply
  71. Taylor

    And I don’t believe that sparks can clone mature human beings, memories, clothes and all. We can thus agree to disagree.

    Cordially,
    Taylor

    Reply
  72. Carson

    “Angier’s technological solution – which suggests art as sacrifice, a phoenix-like death of the self – and Borden’s more meat-and-potatoes form of stagecraft embody the divide between the artist and the social being.”

    Nicolas Rapold of Film Comment on the theme of “The Prestige”.

    Reply
  73. Dana

    ^ carson, you are my hero.

    and taylor, once again, it has nothing to do with what anyone can do in “real life”. ive seen a shit ton of things (in good movies, mind you) that i dont believe can happen in real life but that nonetheless happen in the universe of the movie. have you ever seen star wars?!?!

    sorry. nerd moment.

    anyway, i know you dont want to believe it but as carson says, where’s the proof? if i tried to write a paper on this with your theory as my thesis, i’d fail because i had nothing to support it but what i THOUGHT the ending should be. it doesnt hold up :/

    Reply
  74. Taylor

    Dana,
    you have just had your nerd badge removed for saying Star Wars isn’t real. Seriously uncool.

    Outside of that – your paper with said insightful theory can’t be proven wrong. It may get lame points for its cheesy concept – but that is basically irrelevant. If its all a dream – its all a dream. Granted, any movie can be explained away utilizing this excuse – whole fields of philosophy have this as their bedrock premise. (Not to derail us here but Descartes’ entire career was based on his rebuttal of these types of philosophies.)

    I don’t mind the dream machine and its thin hold on reality. What I do contest are the dream-like realities of this movie. Its Hollywoodness is thick in areas and would be easier to explain if it were a dream. (The skinny alley, the “nameless police forces chasing Cobb around the globe”, “bizarre weather patterns tormenting the dreamer”, etc.)

    I personally like the idea of Mal not being dead. I am a hopeless romantic – and if there is a chance that Cobb & Mal have a chance to get back together again – I’m going to take it no matter the mental gymnastics necessary to pull it off. So heck yeah – I could definitely be wrong here. Where I KNOW I’m not wrong is in my prestige theory. With that one I am 100% spot on. hehe.

    No seriously.

    Reply
  75. Nick

    I prefer the machine not working. The blind men cannot see, but they would hear a drowning man thrashing around in the tank every night.

    When Angier realized that the machine does not work, he saw that the only explanation after all is a double. Olivia had told him there were extra wigs and make up, but he was not ready to listen then.

    Angier “does not know” whether he will disappear from the stage or appear above the audience. In fact he prefers this version of the trick, because he keeps Root below stage all the time and the audience gaze up in admiration. But he tries to misdirect and convince Borden of his superior skills to the end.

    The “clone” does not appear in the audience. On this night, Angier stays below stage and pushes the tank under the trap door, instead of the cushion.

    Angier does not have to wait for Borden to come on stage to plan the finale. The plant in the audience is the oldest trick in the book. Angier “plants” Borden in the audience, as a dupe, not a stooge. He knows that if Borden is in the audience, he will come on stage and go below to spy on the mechanism. It is what he has always done. He only has to know that Borden has come into the theatre – watch the entrance or box office. He does the switch with the cushions and tank, again copying Borden’s trick where he removed the cushion and damaged Angier permanently.

    Angier sacrifices Root as well as Borden. Root has also willfully sabotaged Angier’s career. Angier gets his hands dirty and kills two birds – with one stone.

    The tanks outside the theatre are the misdirection (pledge) that compel Borden to investigate how the trick is done.

    Nolan’s films always have unreliable narrators – amnesic, dreaming, misdirecting.

    The dummies in the tanks are just more misdirection should Borden sneak around.

    Of course, they are also the “spinning top” that works its magic on the film audience. How do we interpret what we have just seen? Is it magical science fiction or a magic trick? Nolan leaves the possibilities evenly balanced.

    Reply
  76. Taylor

    He only has to know that Borden has come into the theatre – watch the entrance or box office.

    copying Borden’s trick where he removed the cushion and damaged Angier permanently

    The tanks outside the theatre are the misdirection (pledge) that compel Borden to investigate how the trick is done.

    Nicely done. Loved (and quoted) a few key concepts well thought through and noted. Nick, definitely my favorite comment of them all. Come, you haters – show me where the flaw in this logic is…

    Very nicely played indeed. Thanks Nick.
    Taylor

    Reply
  77. Carson

    “Angier “does not know” whether he will disappear from the stage or appear above the audience. In fact he prefers this version of the trick, because he keeps Root below stage all the time and the audience gaze up in admiration. But he tries to misdirect and convince Borden of his superior skills to the end.”

    This makes no sense. When did Root suddenly develop the ability to come present the trick? This was the whole reason that Angier had to be under the stage in the first transported man. In order for Angier to be up on the balcony, Root would have to do the pledge. This theory completely ignores a large chunk of the movie.

    Reply
  78. Nick

    All Root has to do is announce the act and walk into the apparatus: what skill does this take?

    Reply
  79. Carson

    You must have fell asleep for about half an hour in the middle of the movie… Unlike Bordon, whose ability is that of a magician, but who is a poor showman, Angier’s talent is showmanship. What he lacks in magician ability, he makes up for with his ability to do a dramatic pledge. This is why Angier had to be below stage in the first transported man. The minute Root would speak, it would be obvious that it wasn’t Angier (as stated by Cutter).

    Reply
  80. Taylor

    This is true for the original version. But the NEW and IMPROVED version – Angiers strolls over and walks through the sparks. There isn’t a ton of build up or wild gesticulatory promenading happening.

    Nick, I actually dig that – in that this solves Angier’s concern earlier in the movie about being stuck under the stage (per Carson’s comments) and it also would make sense in this new version that he’d solve this problem by utilizing Root (or a different double – whatever) in this new way on the front end and back ending the hoopla.

    Carson, I get your point and its valid. But I also think that was relevant with a different trick. Not necessarily with the Tesla version. My two cents. But I’ll have to dig the movie out again and watch that one bit to see how hard it would be for Root (or a double) to pull off.

    My 2 cents.

    Reply
  81. Nick

    In the earlier show, Root has exercised his “power” (as suggested by Borden)over Angier by screwing himself out of a job. If he wants to work again for Angier for big money, he stays sober, gets board and lodging, no cash, and a big pay-off after the 100th show. He can supposedly act enough to do the trick, if he’s sober.

    Reply
  82. Carson

    Yeah, for some reason I thought you were referring to a new and improved version of the movie… Sorry. But there was still a build-up for The Trans Man 2.0. And Root sounds nothing like Angier.

    Reply
  83. D.Vader

    So much pretension here. If the machine worked, then this movie becomes one of the worst movies of all time? I’m all for interesting and well thought out theories, but not when it comes with the attitude of “if I’m wrong, this movie sucks,” which is the equivalent of saying “you don’t agree with me, you’re an idiot,” wrapped up in polite conversation.

    Reply
  84. Taylor

    Mr. Vader –
    You are more than welcome to enjoy the movie believing the machine worked. And I am entitled to believing the movie is illogical and fatally flawed otherwise. It has nothing to do with your opinion – nothing ‘tall. If it makes sense to you – then you are lucky in that you understand Nolan better than I can. And being a Nolan Fan Boy then you are better off than me!

    Taylor

    Reply
  85. Carson

    @ Vader

    Well said. I feel the same way.

    @ Taylor

    He really has a point. You need to learn how to except other theories. I have read a couple occasions on here where you have actually implied that you were sorry that they aren’t as smart as you because they are unable to accept your theory. You fail to even acknowledge other peoples’ theories. They are just wrong. The blogs are good and the debates are fun… But at the same time, the debates are pointless and empty.

    Reply
  86. Taylor

    Carson –
    Well said. If you – or anyone else took umbrage at my responses to their ideas or arguments I hereby offer my sincerest apology. I definitely don’t intend to imply anything about the opinion holder in responding strongly. So my apologies.

    I do definitely believe (rightly or wrongly) that there is one answer to this movie. And I’m sure that comes out in my responses. I understand and clearly appreciate other theories – i just think they are imcorrect. Even if the right honorable Mr. Nolan wondered through and espoused a theory that advocated the machine’s not working I would respectfully disagree! So I’m sure I can sound harsh at times.

    So thankyou Carson for setting me straight. Always appreciated.

    Lord Vader, do forgive. No offesnse intended. I definitely appreciate the criticism – what I should say is that if the machine worked then I definitely believe it to be one of the most illogical ever. Though I’m open to being educated!

    Hehe. Better? Seriously. No offense intended. I will say in my defense that other boards where I’ve mentioned this lil theory of mine have basically pilloried me for the espousing the most daft theory ever. It’s very very unkind. So if I’ve gone to the other extreme that wasnt my intention.

    Regardless… Thanks everyone for the various theories and ideas posted throughout this conversation. It’s been a blast.

    Taylor

    Reply
  87. Carson

    I’m glad to see that went well… When I first posted I was worried that I was being too harsh. I’ve had fun as well, and though I have my own theory, I have still been planning on watching it again in the viewpoint of your theory.

    Reply
  88. Taylor

    Heheheh…
    It is impossible to be too harsh with me while on the topic of the Prestige. Impossible. Especially in person. I’ve alienated whole branches of my family via this topic. Nevermind work alienations! Holy cow.

    So – well played good sir, well played. Until your next viewing – which is soon I hope. Can’t wait to hear your updated perspective and how wrong I am! Take care.

    Taylor
    ps – happy 100th blog post comment everyone! heheh. Pretty incredible to think. And thanks for the over 22,000 words of comments! That’s like crazy. Lots of fun discussions here regardless.

    Reply
  89. Dana

    Taylor:

    We’ve talked this to death. I know. But I’ve just recently watched it–rewatched it three times in a row. And, I’ve got to tell you, your own argument proves itself wrong.

    You say there is only one possible true ending because otherwise the movie isn’t playing fair with us, correct? It’s all about Nolan’s integrity as a creator.

    Well, as I just said, I rewatched it just a moment ago and I can tell you with absolute certainty that the machine had to have worked because Angier did NOT use a double in the tank. The audience can see that it’s him–if Nolan were to have the double as the solution to the New Transported Man, he easily could have done some fancy footwork with the camera so as not to completely and utterly expose the face of the drowning man to the audience–but he DOES. And it is the face of Angier. Showing the audience what is clearly and unarguably Angier, and then having it be a double, is not playing fair with the audience. We should be able to see something IF WE’RE WATCHING CLOSELY. Which I certainly was. And it’s Angier drowning (or a clone, or what have you). Not a double.

    In addition, Cutter identifies his body in the morgue. There is no getting around that. Saying he made a mistake isn’t playing fair with the audience–he’s never been wrong, or taken in by a trick–before. In fact, he was the only one to see Bordon’s trick for what it was. As a character, he is exceptionally perceptive. This mistake would come out of nowhere, and it isn’t playing fair with the audience.

    If what your argument is based on is the necessity of an explanation to uphold the promise given at the beginning of the movie, and not have a scifi cop out because that would cheat the audience and be “the worst movie ever made” as you have put it previously, then how could such things be in place and the Prestige still be a fair movie?

    Not to mention numerous other things, like why Angier didn’t learn his lesson from his dealing with Root that using a double only leads to trouble when they figure out their power. No–he’s far too smart and has too much to lose to repeat that mistake.

    If this is a fair movie, the director cannot have a previously reliable character positively identify a body and have it be the body of someone else. That’s a cop out if I’ve ever seen one.

    Dana

    Reply
  90. Vaibhav

    Taylor,

    I believe its the best movie and calling it a sci-fi movie is an insult to it(actually calling oneself a ‘fool’)!

    But I am baffled with these questions ;

    1. In the last scene : Angier was surprised to see Borden out of prison and hence asks “a brother, a twin ?” If he is surprised how did he expect Borden to come to the theatre and hence why did he prepare so many glass boxes with some figures in them?

    2. Angier always wanted to know Borden’s trick and still he tears away the paper in the jail when Borden hands him the answer. Why?

    Some people are worried abt how 3 Angiers ? I think the one on the slab and in the tank is same …..After a body is declared dead it is given away to the takers for cremation etc ..so Cutter took it..Whats the big deal..

    I know I am late but it ll be grt if someone answers the two questions..

    Vaibhav

    Reply
    • Taylor

      @vaibhav – good questions both. They were two of the most concerning for me as well. Not the question of the tanks, not the machine… But Angier’s reactions to the long con he’d just fallen for.

      1. In the last scene : Angier was surprised to see Borden out of prison and hence asks “a brother, a twin ?” If he is surprised how did he expect Borden to come to the theatre and hence why did he prepare so many glass boxes with some figures in them?

      So my take is thus. Angier so badly wants to beat Borden that all sense is driven from his brain. Remember back to the Cutter conversation Angier had where they discuss how Borden did his teleporting man trick? Angier just couldn’t fathom that it was a double. He was certain the trick was more profound than that. And so he spent his life outdoing his number one rival utilizing what he believed to be a poor facsimile of Borden’s more perfect trick sans double (or whatever). Right?

      He spends a fortune on a machine that doesn’t work and ends up developing the same ‘flawed’ trick with a double all over again. Except this time there was a hook. He was going to catch his chief competitor in a trap while he was at it. But he still didn’t know how Borden did his version. He just over thought it.

      Then Borden’s brother arrives back stage and shoots him. He is so baffled because it just didn’t occur to him that it was a twin all along. It was just too obvious for him to believe all along.

      2. Angier always wanted to know Borden’s trick and still he tears away the paper in the jail when Borden hands him the answer. Why?

      This one is simpler and more complex at the same time. Ultimately Angier is motivated by pride beyond all else. Angier’s pièce de résistance was this moment. To have the self control and to take the one thing he wanted more in his life than anything and to throw it away was an amazing show of self restraint. Marvelous really.

      But to give his chief competition the satisfaction of watching him read the solution to their best trick was out of the question! Which proves it all the more that Angier had no idea how te trick worked. The cloning machine couldn’t have worked. If it had he wouldn’t have asked “a brother, a twin”. He would have said – “a clone?”. This much is obvious. But he didn’t did he?

      Anyway… I digress. Thanks for your insightful questions! Do take care.
      Taylor

      Reply
  91. chris

    hey taylor

    i think it is easier to accept this as a film that sacrifices plot in favour of emphasising the themes of sacrifice to achieve greatness, juxtaposing two men who never lived a full life with another who has died tens of times.

    simply put, the theory that root is used as a double for the “real” trick is missing the point of the movie completely. it over complicates the film just to tie a neat little bow around everything. there is absolutely no way that the person at 1:43:06 is anyone but angier. the man on screen does not have disjointed earlobes (as root has) and therefore is a clone of angier.

    so unless youre going to put forth that angier found the man who made him a cripple, convinced him to play along and get plastic surgery then i’m afraid i’m going to have to call you a fanboy who has idolised nolan so much that you can’t believe he could dip into sci fi.

    if you analyse plot over themes then i think you’ve missed the point of the prestige. to do so means you have to add a lot to the movie (he found root, tesla conned him etc. etc.) and ignore a lot of what is happening.

    as for the why would he have 100 identical tanks at the end, he has a machine that clones stuff! it was obvious to me that he cloned the tank that his wife died in so that he could die the same way as her – they ALL were the tank she drowned in.

    i look forward to your rebuttal.

    Reply
  92. Morgane

    Hey Taylor,

    I wanted to say that I agree whith your whole post, yaaaaaay !

    I saw The Prestige for the 1st time last week (how did I survive until then ?), and absolutely loved it.
    On a litterary level, I really liked the theme of the doubles, the mirrors, the parallels between the birds (who are DOUBLES not CLONES) and the magicians. One has to die for the other to come out and be the Prestige. Also : Angier drowns like Julia, Borden is hung like Sarah.

    I had 2 complaints though. The first one is one of personnal taste : I found it hard to be involved with a movie in which I hated the 2 main characters. But then Twin Borden arrived and I liked him more than the super ambitious one.

    The 2nd one is of course : WHAT THE EFF IS GOING ON WITH THAT MACHINE ?? At first when I saw the hats, I really didn’t believe in it. It was clear to me that Tesla and his assistant had bought the same hat (that’s why they kept Angier’s : they were able to find the same one with the money he gave them). And there were only 2 cats ! The original one and the so-called “cloned” one. Tesla’s assistant, whose name I can’t remember right now (the only one that comes to my mind is Gollum), made it clear that it was the first time that they were experimenting on the cat ; so in the end they only had to find a DOUBLE. Which was super easy as the cat was all black, and didn’t have a complicated pattern.
    So I kept expecting a reveal about the machine, that it was a fake. I actually couldn’t believe Angier went for it so easily (and Tesla to go “oooooh it’s amaaaaaazing, now I’m gonna disappear with your money !”), but at this time of industrial development where electricity itself was “magic” for some people, maybe they were ready to believe anything as being part of the Progress that was going on.
    But then we had the “flash-back” in which Angier kills his clone, and the bodies in the tanks and the fact that killing each night a clone and being reborn as the Prestige actually makes sense in a sci-fi context. It becomes logic.
    The problem is, I really can’t accept that. It was too disapointing coming from Nolan and the message he gave us during that whole movie : the movie IS the trick, and he’s just trying to confuse us with the mixed-up narration and the doubles and the pretty sparks as you say !
    My conclusion is that the machine didn’t work, even with the arguments that defend the clone theory which makes sense in some way. But I can’t accept that the guy that did Inception, could tell us a story about magic, how it works, how there’s always something, always a secret that the audience itself doesn’t want to figure out, would gave us a SF conclusion !
    The Angier drowning in the tank is the only real thing that could make me doubt. But I do believe in the DOUBLES (but wow, they were really alike), and obviously Angier knew that Borden was there to set him up that night and the bubble was just another illusion. Angier lived his trick, that’s why Borden/Fallon was able to witness the removal of the tanks each night (the old chinese man also left his show the same way).

    But I guess we can’t have all the answers and it’s for the best ! Though I think that the people who defend the clone theory are wrong (no harm intended, I swear !). To say that there were clones, and that’s it, and we shouldn’t go further, we shouldn’t over-think it, is completely missing the point, the very essence of the movie, its plot and its message.

    It’s all part of the trick, unexplained elements to bring you the Prestige, the amazement that we have when we wonder “Wooow how did he do that ??”.
    Question best left unanswered.

    Reply
  93. Taylor

    Morgane,
    I have but one thing to say to your comments:

    I wanted to say that I agree whith your whole post, yaaaaaay!

    My job here is done. I have nothing else to say. hehe. Seriously though, I think you some my own position up very nicely. Yeah, there are things that I can’t completely rectify. But at the end of the day, it is the only logical solution to the movie quandaries.

    Until next time,
    Taylor

    Reply
  94. Taylor

    Christopher,

    so unless youre going to put forth that angier found the man who made him a cripple, convinced him to play along and get plastic surgery then i’m afraid i’m going to have to call you a fanboy who has idolised nolan so much that you can’t believe he could dip into sci fi.

    It has nothing to do with being a fan-boy. Though I definitely am a Nolan fan-boy and have been since day one. Basically what you sound like you are saying is that unless I believe Nolan is capable of screwing up a movie, I’ve got my head buried in the sand. Because ultimately, what you are saying is exactly that. You know what – I’m going to say this directly to Mr. Nolan himself.

    Mr. Nolan, you either created one of the greatest movies of all time – or you seriously jacked it up when you distributed this Prestige tripe. Either The Prestige is the most epic mind-bending magic tricks cast in technicolor… or you have violated all your own logical archetypes and leitmotifs established from the beginning of the movie. I would be happy to interview you here and set the record straight at last!

    Ok – so that was a little tongue in cheek. And while I respect other’s opinion, I don’t think they are correct in their interpretation of the movie. The themes laid out here are not about the supernatural and science fiction. They are about revenge in the middle of this messy thing called life. Bloody relationships that curdle to a maddening crescendo. Not about aliens and reese’s pieces. That movie’s already been made.

    So forgive me my disagreement with you. There are plenty of other boards out there where your voice is in the majority (as it is generally on this one.) But I, good sir, respectfully disagree.

    Taylor

    Reply
  95. Taylor

    Chris,
    First explain to me how David Copperfield made the Statue of Liberty disappear, and then I’ll explain to you the glorious mysteries surrounding the “earlobe thing”.

    Sincerely,
    Taylor

    Reply
  96. chris

    just to clarify, jackman had his face modified while he was portraying root – his nose has been enlarged and his earlobes changed, they are subtle but there (as i would expect from such a nuanced and intelligent director).

    they are not there once tesla machine is used during the trick. these are also not present on the dead body in the tank, or on the corpse.

    if nolan had intended any of these bodies/people to be root instead of angier i’m sure that he would not forget to differentiate between angier and the doppelganger, as it would be lazy to do so – something we both can agree nolan is not.

    until you can explain this i’m afraid i can’t see any validity for what you’ve said

    Reply
  97. Taylor

    Oh I get it. Believe me. But I appreciate the primer for others wandering through.

    My point in invoking the copperfield statue of liberty trick was just to say – the movie is a magic trick. At the end of the day I don’t know how David Copperfield made the Statue of Liberty disappear… but I’m BETTING he didn’t actually move it. I don’t care how much evidence you show me that he picked it up and carried it to Long Island… I’m sticking with the logical conclusion that it was only a TRICK.

    Now, I could be wrong there… but I doubt it. Similarly, even though I can’t explain to you the earlobe thing – it doesn’t mean the machine worked. The entire movie is a magic trick. Plain and simple.

    This thread has discussed the earlobes and the teeth in so much detail I can’t handle another round. But to sum up, it could be:

    a. Another twin?
    b. Root, round two?
    c. Another double?
    d. A guest appearance by Anakin Skywalker?

    You’ve declared me a fan-boy if I believe its Root come back or another cosmetic surgery victim. So that leaves the twin option or Anakin Skywalker.

    Either way, you aren’t going to buy what I’m selling and I’m not buying what you are selling. I’m actually alright with that. Its a fun discussion and appreciate your taking the time to chat. It just comes down to the basic philosophy behind how you view the movie. You are cool with the leap to sci-fi – and I am not. Just doesn’t make any sense at all.

    taylor

    Reply
  98. chris

    agree to disagree – i don’t see how ignoring what the movie presents and adding your own information to suit your view makes sense either. reminds me of intelligent design’s arguments against evolution for some reason

    Reply
  99. Chuck

    Let me preface my comments by thanking everyone for their insight into The Prestige and Memento.
    I have spent an hour or so pouring through many of the comments and theories on both pages, and felt the need to post a quick thought.
    My thought is pretty simple.
    Why not take both of these movies at face value?
    I have enjoyed all of Nolan’s movies and, while they make take a minute or two to dissect, really are quite interesting stories on a basic level.
    I am not going to go through the plot, or anything along those lines, as they are there right in front of the audience. If we are really to believe the ideas set forth above, however, then it seems to me that we can invent our own theories for any film, not just a Nolan film.
    This sort of reminds me of the old Sopranos discussion board where folks would throw some high-end explanations behind the motivations and actions of the characters as if David Chase was some kind of super genius, disregarding the actual story and dismissing it, if not for this higher understanding.
    Christopher Nolan is a gifted director and a great storyteller. I cannot believe he would construct a movie, like The Prestige, in such a way that it took a higher level of understanding to comprehend. It is a great story with a few twists and turns, that leaves, even a casual viewer content. If calling it sci-fi is a bad thing, then call it a dramatic fantasy.
    I have viewed it a number of times, and upon each viewing, I do notice something new and different, but nothing that takes me to the outer reaches defined here.
    I have enjoyed reading the plot dissections, and they have given me much food for thought. I look forward to more ideas and really appreciate the time and thoughts everyone has put into these pages. It just seems to me that with everyone, in my opinion, somewhat over thinking the directors intentions, we may just be missing the actual story, which stands on it’s own.
    It may not be a great film but, in reality, just a really good story.
    Thanks again.

    Reply
  100. Taylor

    @Chuck – well spoken comment. Thanks for taking time out to read, reflect and come to your own opinion. Definitely appreciate people who listen to both sides and reflect on what evidence seems to say to them before making a decision. So, well done.

    I do agree with you generally. Most movies cry out for a literal translation/interpretation. It is rare (more specifically in American movies) for the audience to be asked to come to an interpretation of what is being shown to them. Even the most complex of movies wrap a bow on the movie for the user at the end of the day. Take for example The Usual Suspects. Having the entire movie completely dismantled in front of our eyes was a thing of beauty. But without that final explanation of the bulletin board, I’m guessing most people would have completely disagreed with that interpretation. We are literalists when it comes to movies. Paintings – no. Literature – no. Poetry – no. Music – no. Movies – heck ya.

    So, I completely understand where you are coming from Chuck. I would like to ask for your opinion on another famous movie as a parallel. Just for your opinion. What about Blade Runner? Should that have been more literally interpreted? Or was there something deeper going on? To put it more succinctly – was Deckard an android?

    Regardless of your answer – thanks for reading and posting!!
    Taylor

    Reply
  101. Justin

    Tesla’s machine must have worked there’s no way Angier could get that many doubles, I believe the deal was 5 days a week for 100 shows. I doubt that he could get that many people to go through with his plans. Also, the old guy, sorry can’t remember his name, identified the corpse as Angier. Now you could use the explanation of waterproof makeup but the first type of waterproof makeup, mascara, was introduced in 1930, 30 years after Tesla left Colorado Springs. And if you want to say there was plastic surgery involved that’s not possible. Plastic surgery in the 1800’s and early 1900’s was very crude and would have been noticed immediately by any doctor or coroner. Oh and face reconstruction through skin colored pads and glue would also be noticed and likely washed off in the struggle to get out of the water tank.

    Reply
  102. Taylor

    Justin!
    I love the way you think. It’s so flippin awesome. The birth date of mascara, plastic surgery, face reconstruction… etc etc. Brilliant.

    Now, remind me when cloning of adult humans was invented? Oh right. Never. Its convenient to use the real world for your argument when it suits, but not for the entire crux of the problem. I think just like you do. Tesla, in real life, didn’t invent a cloning/teleporting machine, and therefore the trick is exactly that… a trick.

    How did he get another double (you don’t need 100 – just one) is now the question. Do I know? No. I don’t. Do I need to know to believe it was just a trick… not really. Like I’ve said elsewhere in these comments – Copperfield made the statue of liberty “vanish”. Does that mean it actually vanished? No. It didn’t. Do I know how he did it? No. Do I have a guess or two. Yes. I do. But just because I don’t have definitive proof doesn’t mean Mr. Copperfield walked off with the nation’s most beloved statue. It just didn’t happen.

    But I really do like the way you think. Makes PERFECT sense to me. Keep it up!!

    Until next time,
    Taylor

    Reply
  103. Stella

    I find your article (and the countless comments!) fascinating. I think The Prestige is one of the best movies I have ever seen, especially because there CAN be so much debate about it. I feel like there is more evidence that the machine DOES work, but I’m just too reluctant to believe it! Overall I think that would completely undermine the theme of the movie. For it to be all “oh, tah-dah, we resolved everything by throwing in science fiction at the end!” just doesn’t make any sense for a movie with themes about the truth behind the illusions and audiences who want to be fooled by real magic. So I keep going back and forth over details and evidence and new theories…. but you know, what really shows Nolan’s genius is how it’s really impossible to prove either way. The fact that his movies inspire so much discussion just shows how amazing he is for making us actively think instead of passively accepting what a movie presents 🙂 I think he said in the extra features that that’s what a movie should do, and he loves it when people analyze and have random thought-processes about them (or something like that…)… So I guess it’s ok not to KNOW one way or the other, it’s just what you get out of the movie personally, and whether you can accept it at face value or prefer to find the lesson in deeper possible layers. (which is why I can’t stand it when people aren’t open to theories, and just post things on discussions like this like “duh! It’s so obvious what happened! Stop over-thinking everything!” that’s the point!)

    Reply
  104. taylor

    I completely agree – the movie is good without the conjecture. But its brilliant with the conjecture and possibilities. And to consider the movie without it and shut down all the various options is fairly myopic in my opinion.

    I would love to hear your opinion on why you think the machine worked. Always love to consider new views! Thanks for the post. Glad to hear you are enjoying the dialogue.

    Taylor

    Reply
  105. Joe

    Why did Cutter tell the judge that the machine was real? He goes into detail about how what the magicians do is all illusion, but how this machine was the real deal. What what the point of telling this to the judge if it was fake? If it was real?

    Also, if Angier knew the machine was fake, then why did it still matter to him to retain it as Lord Caldlow?

    Forgive me if the answers to these are obvious, I literally just finished watching it so my mind is buzzing at the moment. Very entertaining movie, just some extreme curiosities left over.

    Reply
  106. taylor

    First, can I ask – is this your first time watching the movie? ‘Cause these are brilliant questions for a first timer. “The force is strong with this one…”

    Why did Cutter tell the judge that the machine was real? He goes into detail about how what the magicians do is all illusion, but how this machine was the real deal. What what the point of telling this to the judge if it was fake? If it was real?

    There are several options here. I have my own opinion, but generally each one is a legit option:
    1. Cutter really does believe that the machine works. Angier kept him out of the mechanics of how the trick worked and maybe he bought it hook line and sinker?
    2. Cutter sees right through the trick (as he did with Angier’s first teleported man trick), but in an attempt to help Angier get back at Borden who killed his wife with a similar trick he sides with Angier and witnesses on the deceased Angier’s behalf.
    3. Cutter actually just wants the madness to stop. He’s seen Angier’s wife drown, Borden’s wife commit suicide, Borden shot, Fallon abducted and Angier ultimately (falsely) drowned. He’d had enough and the best way to end the chaos was to convince the jury that the trick was real and very unsafe. The only reasonable response was to get Fallon reconnected with his daughter and for Borden to hang.

    Now, it could have also been a device to persuade the real magic trick audience (the viewers of the movie) that it was real. But utlimately that really isn’t a reason that is defensible logically within the bounds of the movie anyway.

    Also, if Angier knew the machine was fake, then why did it still matter to him to retain it as Lord Caldlow?

    Not 100% sure what you are getting at here. I think what you are asking is, “Why did Angier work so hard to get the plans from Borden while he was in jail if he already had the answer?” This is a fantastic question and may take me a minute to explain fully. I think we’ve discussed this elsewhere in this thread, but I’ll explain my theory again just in case.

    The bottom line on this one is that I believe Angier actually does want to still know how Borden did his version. Remember that initially Angier believed Borden had some other way of doing the trick than a double. Cutter ultimately said – look, its a double… there’s no other way of doing this trick than with a double. Even if he is doing it some other way, the only way WE can do it is with a double. But Angier wasn’t convinced, he had to be doing something else. Right?

    So ultimately Angier get’s the cypher to the book and then goes and sees Tesla. Tesla runs works him over and gives him an expensive spark machine that does nothing else but sparkle extravagantly. So he decides to incorporate the sparkle machine and upgrade his teleporting man’s trick’s theatrics. Right? But because the cypher proves that the diary was falsified just for him and the machine doesn’t work at all he’s still out in the dark wondering how Borden did his version.

    “But” I hear you saying “HE CRUMPLES IT UP MAN!” Right? Well, yup, you are right he does. But when he came back to get Borden one last and fatal time he went all in. And get him he does. He kills him ultimately by setting him up as a murderer. But to let Borden know he’d won Lord Caldlow walks into the prison and pays for the prestige of the teleporting man trick. Borden knows immediately its Angier. And to complete his victory Angier crumples the prestige up in front of him.

    This is Angier’s coup de’ tat. This is Angier’s master move.

    But its a lie. Angier wants nothing more than to read that piece of paper. To find out exactly how Borden did his trick. He’d be admitting his defeat and his status as the lesser magician if he did so even though his trick got Borden hanged he still would have lost.

    I’m sure that’s a long string of logic to piece together – but it makes sense to me. Would love to see the holes in this logic from your perspective.

    Until next time,
    Taylor

    Reply
  107. Joe C.

    I must say, I love the quick reply, thanks!

    And yes, it was the first time I had seen the movie and I loved it. But my girlfriend had fallen asleep immediately after it was over and all I wanted to do was talk about it haha. So I searched google and found myself here and I’m glad I did, there’s been a whole lot of great discussion.

    I’m very happy with your explanations, they do make sense. I’ll admit, I really wanted to find evidence that the machine DID in fact work, but there doesn’t seem to be any definitive evidence to suggest this, and so that’s when logic kicks in, which is what I believe you have been using–gotta love logic! But isn’t it great that the movie even allows us to be able to question and discuss even after it’s over?

    Also, thank you for declaring the force to be strong with me! Compliments are always much appreciated, especially when I’m currently trying to write a story of my own–one that I hope creates this kind of conversation someday. So with all the planning I’m doing to avoid plot-holes, I try to observe what other great movies/stories do. So once again, great discussion here, thanks all!

    Reply
  108. Grego

    The movie is actually based on a book by Christopher Priest and in the book the machine actually clones Angier as is shown in the movie. It seems that because it was directed by Nolan, people have a need to dive deeper than is needed. Loved the Inception page and the Memento page but I think this one might just be looking for something more than it is, which is quite a good (not great) movie with a bit of a twist. Nolan has also directed the new Batman movies but we aren’t trying to find hidden meanings in it. My opinion anyway.

    Reply
  109. Taylor

    Hey there Grego,
    Yeah – I’m aware. Thanks for the heads up! Nolan is on the record as telling his actors not to read the book and that he made massive changes to it. And for the better. I’ve read it, and I really wasn’t too impressed. Did you like it? I did like that it was science fiction from beginning to end. There was no other option there.

    Oh, and sorry everyone, I am jacking the theme all around. Sorry for the weirdness the next couple days!

    Taylor

    Reply
  110. Bill Oddness

    You explaination is what I thought after seeing the film a few times. My mind has changed a bit on it though. Tesla actually COULD produced free energy. The lightbulbs in the snow scene may not be an exact replecation of what he could do, but it’s close. It is his theories about electrically charging particles in the air using radio waves that are used in WIFI. It is his ‘Death Ray’ that gave rise to the HARRP machine in Alaska, which experiments beaming hi powered radio waves in to the ionosphere. His ‘machines’ worked. This is where my curiosity with the film takes on another level again. Why make a film about a magic trick that isn’t a magic trick when the builder of the main prop of the trick could build and concieve ‘magic’ machines. I think Nolan is hinting at something even deeper again, a 4th layer to the trick if you like, a part next in line to the Prestige. Given that Inception also has a theme of what is real and what is not, illusion versus ‘reality’, I can’t help but think Nolan has another motive in his films, in the same way Stanley Kubrick did.Any thoughts on this folks?

    Reply
  111. Preston

    “For example – why would Angier still be trying to get Borden’s method after having reproduced the trick with the Tesla machine? It logically doesn’t follow. He’d been duplicating himself successfully for months – why does he still need the method?”

    Angier wasn’t interested in Borden’s method anymore. Remember, Angier tears the trick up right in front of him.

    “So… explain that to me. If Borden was the one that directed Angiers to Tesla in order to get the cloning machine, why would he be so flummoxed by the trick? Wouldn’t it be obvious to Borden that his rival was using the same cloning methods as himself, only plotted out in a different way?”

    Borden didn’t use cloning methods; he had a twin brother. He directed Angier to Tesla as a red herring after having purchased a stage prop from Tesla that generated lightning, inspired by what he saw at the exhibition.

    You don’t seem to have an explanation for the lack of distinctive earlobes and other facial features on the drowned Angier that Borden was accused of murdering, or the fact that Cutter identified the body as Angier. If we’re simply supposed to dismiss that discrepancy as “Well, it’s all a trick anyway, so any old explanation will do,” then one may as well say, “Or Tesla’s duplicator actually worked.”

    Some people try to dismiss the science-fiction aspect because they apparently weren’t aware of it before going into the film. It’s nothing more than a mechanism for the themes that the film was trying to drive home, one of them being that Angier killed himself every night to achieve what Borden accomplished easily with a twin. He limited the tour to 100 shows to force Borden to act, knowing that he would go backstage like before. He wanted Borden to know that he beat him.

    If the machine doesn’t work, than the themes of obsession and sacrifice no longer function, particularly for Angier. Drowning himself was the metaphor for the nightly sacrifices he made as a performer. The hanging of Borden’s twin was the metaphor for Borden’s own sacrifice–his twin represented the loss of individuality in having to live a fake life, like the “Chinese magician” in the beginning of the film (who was based on a real magician from the early 20th century who pretended to be an old Chinese man and famously died during a bullet-catch trick, the same trick Borden does in the film).

    The biggest evidence that the machine works is that the detail of Root’s differentiating facial features was intentionally displayed earlier in the film yet missing on the Angier who drowns in the end. If the functionality of the duplicator is indeed another trick on Angier’s part, than Nolan made a major continuity mistake in the depiction of the double, unless we invent an explanation that Angier somehow found an even more accurate double without any clue that this took place in a film that’s packed with obvious clues (the movie gives away several times that Borden has a twin before it’s explicitly revealed). Also, the idea that Angier would have dozens of wax figures to fill the tanks, or that he found and killed dozens of lookalikes, is too implausible. Angier would have to be an amazingly skilled serial killer and somehow locate 100 people that looked just like him for his 100-show tour.

    I’m afraid it’s simply more plausible to accept the premise that carries the movie’s themes of revenge and sacrifice, even if it involves a science-fiction element.

    Reply
  112. Sad Pirate

    I can not believe your explanations of some movies. I have just watched Memento and read your theories. Then I saw you have some theories about Prestige too, which I watched few weeks ago. Let me say you, I think you are crazy. You watch one movie over and over again.
    “But I’ve just recently watched it–rewatched it three times in a row”.
    Why the fuck you would do that? You really think producers wanted to make it so complicated to understand. For god’s sake, it is just a movie, after all. Some movies have holes in story. Mistakes. And that’s all. Some of movies are make only for people like you, with 1000 questions to ask.
    My conclusion is that you’re insane. Really. That is the explanation of the movie. Taylor is insane.

    Reply
  113. Taylor

    Sad Pirate,
    You are my new best friend. Seriously. I laughed, and laughed and laughed at your post. You are brilliant. If I wasn’t married already I’d marry you – whether you be a male or female – wouldn’t matter! You are that awesome! Brilliance I tell you, brilliance.

    So I take it you believe the machine worked in the prestige and believe that Lenny was – what? Just a guy with a with some really bad luck? I actually think yer on to something. Still laughing. Heheheh.

    Thanks for the chuckles Mr. Clown. Great start to my day!
    Taylor

    Reply
  114. Sad Pirate

    I hope you’ve got my COMPLICATED comment, I cannot find it anywhere. If not, let me know.

    Sincerely yours,
    Mr. Pirate.

    Reply
  115. Taylor

    nope. no complicated comment. i only have the comment from you that is listed here. don’t leave me hangin!
    taylor

    Reply
  116. Sad Pirate

    Noooooo! But I tried so hard! Damn! It was so complicated I can even remember it. So…
    In many movies, producers, director and other horror gang wants you to think over and over about movie. And every time you find some holes in their stories. That is the point. Let see… Mothman’s prophecy is a good movie which is mysterious but logical. But that movie can also be complicated. It’s easy to make it complicated, but it’s not easy to make it complicated and without holes. But, you are a funny guy. You think that you’ve missed the point of a movie, so you watch it 879 times to understand it. You even make abnormal theories. You went to deep, to deep.
    As for the movies, if you really, really, really must know. But really! I will tell you my opinion.

    1. Prestige: Stupid machine worked, yes. Yes, it is a SF movie. At the begging some manager guy oh that other guy said that machine is no trick, but pure magic. He want’s to destroy it. But… You think that other magician tricked everyone, but you! You think that that is all magic. I assure you that only few people would think that. One can rewatch Pocahontas and make it different and complicated if really wants.
    2. Memento: Teddy did not lied. It would make, again, to complicated it and too much holes. So, Lenny somehow or maybe escaped or leave bedlam or wtf is that place called, and then manipulated himself to kill Teddy. It doesn’t really matter if his wife is killed by accident by him or in accident. That is the producers trick. For people like you. Rewatchers.

    Hope you got my complicated comment!
    Best wishes
    Mr. Pirate.

    Reply
  117. Morgane

    Mr Pirate is making me laugh a lot. I’m glad I still get notifications whenever a new comment is posted.

    Reply
  118. Taylor

    MORGANE! Haha, long time no talk. Yes, our friend the pirate has been cracking me up all day. I even have been reading his posts to random people I work with. The funny thing is – 90% of the people I know agree with him! Guess i beat movies to a pulp in real life too! Its awesome.

    Monsieur the Pirate,
    I love your theories both. Brilliant inside and out. The machine worked (sci-fi no more no less) and Lennie is an honest guy. Perfect. Makes absolute perfect sense to me. Not sure exactly why people find the need to right comments on this page upwards of 3000 words or more! It’s so stinking simple! Hahahh. Good times.

    Hey pirate my friend,
    Have you seen Primer yet? I would KILL to get your opinion on that little movie. I’m sure it’s simple too – I just am not sure exactly how to pull that off. So I would appreciate the help of you could explain it to me!! Haha. Anyway, thanks for coming back and re-writing out your theories. Brought another smile to my face.

    So long Morgane. Toodles Senjor Pirate!
    Until next time,
    Taylor

    Reply
  119. Morgane

    The thing is, I understand people who make their own opinion about the movie, especially The Prestige who really tries and mess up with your head, because there’s arguments both ways. But to look up “the prestige explained” and leave a comment about how we shouldn’t try and explain it, it’s just plain ridiculous.
    Some people have a passion and they can spend a lot of time on it, that’s why it’s a passion. And even people who disagree with us (like my boyfriend), can agree that the movie still is ambiguous, and I respect them for their opinions. But to come here and say not to analyze anything Nolan does (“You re-watchers, you!!!”) is just announcing publicly your lack of wits.
    Anyway, we know the meaning of it all : “Taylor is insane”. Hahahahahaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa !!!

    Reply
  120. Sad Pirate

    Dear Mr. Rewatcher.
    I was more than happy when I read that you talk about my simple explanation. To be hones, I don’t like that you’ re talking randomly. I would more like if you would talk by some order. LOL. Ok, Pirate in 3, 2, 1…
    I will make your wish true and soon watch that movie, Primer and let you know about my simple explanation. As for the movies, again, I don’t see anything wrong with my explanations. If you could argue a little more why my exp. sucks, that would be almost fine. I know, I know, you used 400 892 words (sum) to describe your opinion but I must be honest. I haven’t read them all.

    Dear Miss (Mrs) Morgane
    I did not say there is no need to analyze movies. At least, I think I did not. To me is very, very funny to rewatch a movie 3 times in a row because you think you’re missing the point. So, you (he) is the one who toughly wants to complicate it. If Mr. Rewatcher really, really, really insists I would make classical example of his complication process. Indeed.

    Reply
  121. Taylor

    Mr. Pirate,
    I’d be happy to answer your questions and formally respond to your “theory” that the machine worked – but I’ve answered this question so many times above that it would be a serious re-hash of the same old territory we’ve already covered.

    But to make you happy. Here’s my response. IT MAKES NO SENSE FOR THE MACHINE TO WORK. IT IS NOT A SCIENCE FICTION MOVIE. Clear enough? The Prestige works too hard to be grounded in reality for this to be the answer. Makes zero sense. None. But hey – most people prefer to be told what to think… they like to have the director write a nice clear explanation of what happened in the movie they just watched – and to jerk around the audience? That is unconscionable.

    I agree with Morgane, most people I know take every movie they watch at face value. One of my best friends wasn’t even aware that Harrison Ford’s character in Blade Runner was a robot. Which is fine. Just takes away a deeper level of understanding from the movie. If you prefer to be told what to think – that is fine. All good. I have no complaints with that. Just don’t tell me what to think. And allow me to think about other possible meanings on my own, thank you very much.

    heheh.
    t

    Reply
  122. Sad Pirate

    I have expected something like that. I’m sorry, but if you could just copy paste your arguments to make me happy that would be almost fine….
    1. Why you think machine didn’t work? I know you answered it many times, but still…
    2. Why you think that some movies have deeper value? I have already announced I would give you an example of complicating issue if I may. I see you are very smart person, but unfortunately you are seeking deeper level where they may be none. I can not be sure, though you’re wrong… but still… It’s just a movie.
    3. Please make a scenario. You would be great! Lol. Indeed.
    Greetings from Mr. Pirate. No hard feelings! Wish you all the best.
    PS. Drunk Mr. Pirate! Salute!

    Reply
  123. Morgane

    Is it because English is not my first language, or is it because Mr Pirate is always drunk, that I can’t understand his grammar nor his syntax ?

    Reply
  124. Jimbo

    I watched Prestige a few days ago, and I have a few questions (I’ve read your fine answers above).

    How come Borden and Fallon are “fooled” by Angiers new teleported man? When Olivia Wenscombe joins Borden he tells her that he can easily see that Angier is using a double who is overweight (Rooth).

    Who is the man that drowns in the tank in the first scene?

    Reply
    • Taylor

      I watched Prestige a few days ago, and I have a few questions (I’ve read your fine answers above).

      Would love to hear what you thought of it! And you are much too kind.

      How come Borden and Fallon are “fooled” by Angiers new teleported man? When Olivia Wenscombe joins Borden he tells her that he can easily see that Angier is using a double who is overweight (Rooth).

      Borden is fooled. Fallon wants none of it. I have always thought that Borden was enamored with this new trick before him, so much some couldn’t see what was right before his eyes. He was caught up in the moment. Borden so loved the magic trick that he lost sight of reality. He became like us, in a sense. Uninitiated in the ways of the logic of the reality before him. The presentation just blew him so far away he believed that Angier had also come up with an updated solution. Not sure if I am making sense here but I’ve given it ago anyway.

      Who is the man that drowns in the tank in the first scene?

      That’s THE question isn’t it? Because, the poor schlep who dies at the beginning is actually the same guy who “dies” at the end of the movie. We have two options (sure, myriads of permutations there of, but still basically two) before us: 1. Either it was Angier’s clone (or the original, whichever) 2. Or it was a twin of some sort (Root part 2, another similar better adapted, or a real twin). These are our options.

      I personally believe it is Root part 2. “But the earlobes man!”. The earlobes really are easy enough to fix with makeup or medically. Even back in the day. A real twin works too. Highly coincidental, but possible. Bottom line, it definitely wasn’t option 1. The machine DID NOT WORK, and no clones at all were present throughout the duration of this non-sci-fi movie.

      But that’s just my opinion. What’s yours and why?
      Taylor

      Reply
  125. Jimbo

    I have to agree with your interpretation. First of all, I do not believe that Tesla’s machine ever worked. Angier knew this and his only purpose was to set up Borden and getting him convicted of murder. The set up is arranged as a magic trick with a pledge, a turn and the prestige.

    It sure seems that Borden is obsessed with Angiers new trick. In the end he furiously shouts to Fallon: “What is going on under that stage? Why can’t you out think him?” He must have been fooled or unwilling to accept that Angier is doing the same trick with more theatrical features. In the end he also tells Angier that it takes nothing to steel another man’s trick. I guess that means that he has learned the truth behind Angier’s trick.

    I do believe that Angier has found a new Rooth. The only “problem” with this explanation is that he has found a double who not only looks like Angier, but talks in the same way (as we see and hear the first time Borden goes to see the new transported man). But it is a feature Rooth did not have. And this part is the one that tricks me. Whats your view on that?

    Reply
  126. Taylor

    But it is a feature Rooth did not have. And this part is the one that tricks me. Whats your view on that?

    Ultimately it doesn’t really matter. It’ll be 100% conjecture because this is the Magic Trick of the movie. When you go to a magic show, the guy up on stage doesn’t tell you how he does his stuff. So it is with the movie. Christopher Nolan shows us a trick, and does not tell us how Angier did it. Actually he did tell us “how Angier did it” but he didn’t really tell us. If you get my meaning.

    I think he could have helped Root morph as needed and paid him more. He could have spent his traveling time searching for another him. He could have gone and gotten his twin brother. No idea. And it really doesn’t matter how he did it, but that he did do it is what really matters in the end. I do completely agree with you that Borden’s intensity to understand what is going on under the stage is very interesting. But its that curiosity that drives the movie forward, that is for sure.

    A cool thing to do is to watch the movie and figure out when Borden is on the screen and when Root is on the screen. When Root is interacting with his wife and when Borden is interacting with her. When Borden is interacting with Angier and when Root is… if you catch my meaning. Helps explain a lot of why they act the way they do if you have the figured out in each scene.

    Reply
  127. Cynthia

    The second Tesla appears as a character in the movie, it did indeed become a science fiction movie.

    Reply
  128. Tang

    I never could quite understand how neither Borden or Fallon ‘knew’ which knot was tied during that incident on stage. It just seemed too convenient of a plot device, seriously, how could they have forgotten such a crucial element to something so tragic?

    Also, when exactly did Fallon/the twin enter the story? Was it after Borden had discovered he needed to ‘live’ the act in order to make his trick work, or had he and his brother been playing the act their entire lives?

    Reply
    • Taylor

      I never could quite understand how neither Borden or Fallon ‘knew’ which knot was tied during that incident on stage. It just seemed too convenient of a plot device, seriously, how could they have forgotten such a crucial element to something so tragic?

      Well, I always thought there were a couple things going on here. The first one is a partial answer to your second question. There were two Borden's potentially. One of them (Borden or Fallon) made the knot. So when Angier asks Borden, he was asking the wrong guy… and he really didn't know which knot "he" had tied. So he was being truthful. There were several occurrences like this that began to tip us off to the limited knowledge of the individual in front of us. "No, you don't love me today…" etc.

      Also, when exactly did Fallon/the twin enter the story? Was it after Borden had discovered he needed to ‘live’ the act in order to make his trick work, or had he and his brother been playing the act their entire lives?

      No, it was before then. I think he realized he wanted to pull a trick like that off even before he began to apprentice. So in short, he was doing it throughout the entire movie we were able to see. The very first occurrences we see chronologically were of them doing the water tank tricks… and they were obviously doing it then as I described above. But specifically when? Not sure, either way it was very clever. The question I have in return is, when did Angier start incorporating his twin! hahah. No seriously, when.

      Reply
  129. Heffalump

    What’s all this fanboy mumbo jumbo? The argument is ridiculous. Why don’t you just got read the novel by Christoher Priest and get your answers?

    Reply
  130. Heffalump

    Just saw someone mentioned the novel. I take my comment back.
    Good on you Grego!

    Reply
  131. Taylor

    From an interview entitled, Nothing Up Their Sleeves with the Nolan brothers on writing the script for The Prestige:

    Chris: There is one rule, and the rule is: you have to be prepared to change everything in the book. You have to be prepared to completely throw it away. That to me is an absolute.
    Jonah: Yes, but that was never a question.
    Chris: But that’s why it’s taken for granted [both laugh]. But it’s not ‘The only rule is, that there are no rules.’ There is one rule, which is that you have to be fearless in changing the book.

    Just sayin.

    Reply
  132. Tang

    I understand Angier had asked the wrong twin. My point is that why couldn’t the brothers communicate to each other as to which knot was tied. It seems strange the one that tied the knot would have been completely tight lipped about it the entire time. That way, later on when Angier had asked the second time (before he shoots in the catching bullet scene), the answer would’ve been revealed regardless of which twin was answering.

    It was used as a driving motivator, or at least, the starting point of their rivalry. Something that important should not be such a gaping plot hole.

    Reply
  133. Taylor

    I understand Angier had asked the wrong twin. My point is that why couldn’t the brothers communicate to each other as to which knot was tied. It seems strange the one that tied the knot would have been completely tight lipped about it the entire time.

    I get your point. Makes sense to me. Thinking about it personally, if my brother accidentally killed someone by screwing up a knot, and someone asked me which knot he tied I would try and protect him. I wouldn’t have said either way regardless of what he told me he did. In effect we know that he screwed up the knot. There really aren’t many other options. He got cocky, tried his clever new idea… and bone headed it. But I get it, crystal clarity on this point would have been good.

    Reply
  134. Tai

    Sorry to disappoint you, but your theory that Angier used multiple doubles of himself in incorrect. In fact, Tesla’s machine actually worked. If you read the books you would understand that the machine creates a perfect duplicate of any object.

    Reply
  135. Taylor

    Shew! Finally, we’ve got that all cleared up! Close the comments. Notate the blog. Head em up and roll em out!

    Reply
  136. Joel

    THE MACHINE WORKS!!! You guys focus so much on insignificant details that you fail to see the big picture. The moral of the story is what matters, not earlobes or whether or not Nolan used sci-fi! Boo-hoo, my favorite infallible genius director used sci-fi in an adaptation of a sci-fi book…waaahhhh!!! IIRC when Tesla and his assistant leave the machine for Angiers they recommend he doesn’t even use it! The story fails if he’s using doubles or wax figures or dummies. Angiers was cloning humans and killing them. The entire story is about the lengths men will go to. Borden/Fallon and their loss of identity, the difficult love triangles, Angiers and his grudges.
    This was a great movie directed by a great director but when you dissect the story so much you destroy it. Honestly, who cares if the machine works or not. This story is not about a machine. This story is not about doubles or earlobes. It’s not about cats, hats or giant vats (of water). This story is about the obsessions men indulge. It’s about revenge, love, passion and insanity. This movie is not about a machine. It’s about the hearts of men. That, and one little red ball.

    Reply
  137. carson

    this guy’s an idiot. he obviously has not done enough research on which to base all of his nonsense. there is a freaking book! read it!

    Reply
  138. Taylor

    Yes, there was a book.

    A book Christopher and his brother completely rewrote from beginning to end for the screenplay.

    A book Nolan told the actors not to read.

    A book who’s narration was totally overhauled into a narrative device that uses journals not an omniscient narrator.

    A book that bears only the slightest resemblance to the movie.

    In short, the book has no authority at all whatever on Nolan’s work.

    Idiot or not – that is my opinion. And I’m betting you haven’t even read said book.

    Taylor

    Reply
  139. TG

    Hey Taylor, I absolutely love the ideas about The Prestige that you have stated and I fully agree that the machine did NOT work and no clones were ever present in the movie.
    I am however confused on one point.

    The man drowning in the box when Borden enters backstage.

    As you have said, there are a few options,

    a) a clone
    b) a “bloody good double”
    c) a twin
    d) Angier himself

    I think I can safely rule out that it is not a clone or a twin. It also cannot be Angier himself, as Caldlow specifically remembers some of the details that Cutter told him in the past (the sailor story).

    Therefore the only viable solution is that it is a double, but this leads me to a few questions. Where would Angier find so many doubles. Although it’s more than possible that the figures in the tank at the end of the movie are made of wax, we see that the one drowning is in fact animate. Angier had his agreement for a hundred shows, which would require 100 doubles.

    Let’s just say he called in a few favors and somehow he ended up with a hundred people looking just like him, how does he go about doing the trick. Is the double given a private chat with Angier explaining that he has to pretend to be Angier for the performance, and at the end he has to die?

    In short, how are these doubles being convinced to participate in a trick where they have to drown. Unless Angier lies to them and tells them that they are going to fall onto a bed instead of a tank, followed by the actual drowning.

    I am very sorry if some of the solutions to my confusion are obvious. Thanks.

    Reply
  140. Taylor

    Hey there TG,
    These are great questions. So much so that I’ll admit up front I don’t rightly know. It is a MAGIC trick after all. But since we are in agreement that it HAS to be a trick the rest is fairly irrelevant. But as I enjoy a round of conjecture just as much as the next person…

    I personally would say that you can’t rule out it wasn’t a twin. Though quite a long shot – it could be that Angier (Lord Caldlow – whoever) had a twin in hiding, but I doubt it. But where you and I differ is that he only needs one duplicate. He doesn’t need 100. When do you see 100 Angiers aligned for all to see? You don’t. Every night, after the performance we see Borden watch Angier cart a large case of something along with his blind stagehands. Right? He’s doing that as a show for Borden… obviously. He only kills the one Angier ‘twin’ the night Borden comes behind the stage. It’d be easy enough to switch the stage lock out after he sees him come up on stage.

    So, I really don’t know how Angier does the trick. But that’s the point of the movie. Whenever ever I watch a good magician do a trick I think about it later and just ponder the possibilities. And that is what we are doing here. ‘How COULD he have done it.’ And that is what I think here – how does Nolan think he could have done it? That’s all that really matters… how did Nolan pull it off? Fulling 98% of the American public into believing this is a science fiction movie. Its baffling.

    What say you TG?
    t

    Reply
  141. TG

    Hey there,

    Your comments made me have an epiphany, I feel like I now understand what happened.

    I feel awesome when I discuss Nolan movies like the Prestige, Inception, and Memento. It just fills me with this excitement, you know?

    Looking forward to more posts by you.

    Reply
  142. mildnhazy

    Taylor – if your theory is true – that the machine does not work – how do you explain the scene (which is not a flashback and hence, is not a fabrication for the benefit of fooling Borden) where Angier is speaking to the theatre manager to convince him to do 100 shows. Angier is speaking to him both before and after the trick – couldn’t possibly be a double.
    From my perspective, that’s the only scene you really need to prove the machine works (although there are plenty of other moments in the movie).

    Reply
  143. mildnhazy

    Taylor – if your theory is true – that the machine does not work – how do you explain the scene (which is not a flashback and hence, is not a fabrication for the benefit of fooling Borden) where Angier is speaking to the theatre manager to convince him to do 100 shows. Angier is speaking to him both before and after the trick – couldn’t possibly be a double.
    From my perspective, that’s the only scene you really need to prove the machine works (although there are plenty of other moments in the movie).

    Reply
  144. errupin

    Has anybody noticed that Angier sometimes seems to be left-handed and others right-handed? is it irrelevant or makes any sense to explain things? i have read somewhere that it is the same with Nolan and his brother…anyway, it was nice to read about this great movie again!

    Reply
  145. MynamesRAnonymous

    I appreciate every ones theory and yet you are all Robert Angier searching like him for the answers from his point of view.Taylor Holmes is 98 % percent right on the money except for the cloning part not being real.But even then the real answer is not revealed.
    Notice Alfred Borden and Robert Angier are mostly mentioned on their names beginning with an A. The names starting with A is followed by a ‘n’ and the other one a ‘l’ . ‘m’ is separating the two; MAGIC or MONEY.Cutter is only know by that name.

    What if this film is more about money than magic.From the very start before all the conflict started between two magicians,you were being fooled or should I say conned.It was all part of The Pledge.
    Consider this.A father and his two identical sons,help rich people do magic for fame.They aren`t very well of because of their clothes and the way they speak.
    A well of man joins this ‘family business’.He wants to learn magic.The father and two sons know they can make a fortune off him.Angier has good showman-ship,he knows the trade.
    The Turn ; they kill his wife.Yes I said it.It was no accident.3 things happen now.We see Angier enraged and a lets be honest here , at an affordable funeral.
    Why kill his wife you ask?To control the will.Or to lead Angier onto a path of not only revenge but competition only to be conned later.
    Alfred starts a new act that plants the idea of revenge in Angier`s mind ; The transported man.
    He meets Cutter (the father) who proposes an idea ;He can be better he has showman ship. He meets an assistant (Olivia )who is in on the act from the start.Yes she has been in love with Alfred from the start even before they met for the first time.She conveniently takes Angier to a double of himself or perhaps a clone.They constantly lead Angier away from the question, what knot was used and more to the trick of the transported man.As Angier follows Alfred.Alfred leads him and Fallon who follows hAngier down a certain path.Fallon falls through ,gets trapped by Cutter and Angier and held ransom for the the key code of the trick found in the notebook Alfred wanted .Bit weird that Alfred did the leading ?.He exchanges the key code but on purpose.When he told his wife he lost something precious was it the secret of his trick or perhaps Fallon his brother or maybe his clone.Bernard Fallon.The first letter followed by the a in Fallon is ‘ L ‘ again. Bernard is also the second letter to Alfred maybe meaning that he is the younger twin or the second original clone.
    I`m not certain whether Angier knew that Borden was conning him and there for did a trick of his own and even revealed in his diary that he knew that Alfred Borden would play slip up and investigate.The thing is Angier killed many of himselfs leaving the question of where to all the clones go.Beckoning Borden to consider that and investigate.Angier staged his fake death to get back at Borden.But he still persist on knowing the truth of Alfred Bordens trick.He hit`s him where it hits hardest,taking his daughter.
    The final part of the turn : Borden is hanged to death.
    Cutter nods to Fallon/Borden after his conversation with Angier as he walks out of the theater.
    The Prestige.Borden/Fallon appears or Prestiges only to Angier revealing the answer to him to his death.The whole world except Cutter and Alfreds daughter is still in The TURN phase forever.
    Even when he explained almost everything and the audience is think they figured out the prestige the Narrator says ,….we want to be fooled. is true.
    Alfred wanted to be caught and hanged for the murder of Angier.They needed for him to make lots of money then stop doing magic to hide his identity (Lord Coltrane) notice the C and play of the alphabetical letter through out the films characters.
    Alfred finally killed the last and only version of Angier after they originally killed his wife.Conning him out of all his money he made for them.That`s what I thought happened anyway because Alfred meets with Cutter even though he was supposed to be on Angier`s side.

    Reply
  146. MynamesRAnonymous

    I could mention more trickery on screen but if I may just add two more important things : When Angier shot Alfred Borden`s two fingers off ,that was part of the trickery.Fallon who scouted the crowd for volunteers specifically chose the disguised Angier.They needed to distinguish the individuality of Alfred`s transporting man as a man with only 3 fingers on the one hand.Olivia noted that to Angier.

    When Fallon got trapped in the box by Cutter and Angier ,he immediately shot out through the box,to warn Angier he has a gun.Angier therefor could not open the box at will and perhaps pull his disguise off.It fooled Angier and bought Alfred`s true trick some time.This too was planned as Alfred lead them in the chase scene.

    Angier`s quest for vengeance got substituted with seeking fame and to better Alfred.Yet he was the one being tricked all the time.The sacrifices he made are nothing compared to Alfred loosing his brother or perhaps a clone friend .But it did make him rich.Try and watch the film again with these opinions I stated ; magicians tricking a man to lose his wife (she would get the will if he should die rich)so they took her out of the picture first.With the Transporting man they lead him to feel not only jealous but vengeful.They kept leading him even after a while he thought he got the upper hand and lead Alfred to a set up.They needed him to draw in crowds many times with an awesome trick.Why does Angier close his eyes when he allows people to inspect his device.He wants to trick Alfred into inspecting it and the under stage to set him up.Perhaps Alfred wanted to be set up maybe not.When he read Angier`s notes in prison ,Angiers speaks to him directly.
    Why does Alfred/Fallon so easily reveal his tricks to Angier but not the reason for the knot?
    The knot was a murder, to con Angier onto to this path.And in the end they made money from a half-assed unoriginal ‘magician’.
    If Fallon was a clone then Alfred iss a better magician than Angier ever could be.It was in his nature to work with his clone (himself) but Angier nor his 100 clones could trust each other or work together.
    Angier even though he was the conned victim,deserved true death in the end like Alfred took responsibility for Sarah Borden`s death (Fallon`s wife),never for Julia (Angier`s wife).

    Reply
  147. troy M

    Angier’s machine did work.
    You need to read the book.
    Sorry, you tricked yourself.

    Reply
  148. dacrum

    I like your theory, but in your numbered summary of the movie, at the end, 23 and 24, you say Fallon when you mean Angier. A bit confusing.

    Reply
  149. dacrum

    Also

    This really helped me gather my thoughts on this movie. A few more points that aren’t necessarily corrections, but rather additions:

    ~in your timeline, it is worthwhile to note that 8 & 11 aren’t actually shown in the movie, but they logically fill in small gaps

    ~I don’t think too many people actually adhere to the “Borden is a clone” theory, but to those that do: why? There is so much evidence to the contrary that it’s hardly worth disputing.

    ~related to the former, but yes, Borden was seen looking at Tesla’s demonstration, and later is using a Tesla machine between the two doors during the Teleported Man trick as a distraction . CLUE! ANGIER LATER DOES THE EXACT SAME THING, BUT INSISTS THE MACHINE ACTUALLY WORKS!

    ~on repeated viewings, it is easy to tell which Borden is which, their personalities are very distinct. One is much brasher, ties the tougher knot, becomes entangled in the rivalry with Angier, doesn’t love Sarah, shows Sarah the bullet trick and likely loses his fingers from the bullet, loves Olivia, demands of Fallon why he hasn’t figured out Angier’s trick yet, is buried alive as Fallon, is hanged for Angier’s death. The other goes about his business quietly, loves Sarah, is father to his little girl Jess, doesn’t know which knot was tied, buys the house, visits Tesla’s demonstration, implores Fallon to give up his obsession with Angier, lives as Fallon after his brother’s imprisonment, and shoots Angier at the end. We can already assume that the brasher Borden is in prison because he was the one obsessed with Angier, but we are told outright right before he hangs when he tells Fallon that he’s sorry about Sarah and that he (Fallon) was right when Borden told him (as Fallon) to give up his pursuit of Angier. This also tells us they are twins before the actual reveal, because the Borden that hanged was Fallon when he was told to give up his obsession with Angier.

    ~Borden does not murder Julia. He ties the tougher knot because it’s less likely to come undone as she is hoisted into the air. In the backroom, she insists she can get out of it. Then, Borden starts to tie the easier slipknot, but he looks up, she nods at him to go ahead, and he ties the tougher knot. For whatever reason, she was unable to get out of it, perhaps misjudging her own skill at escaping knots.

    ~note: Borden doesn’t get his idea of lifelong commitment to a trick from the Chinese magician’s fishbowl trick, as I’ve seen suggested at times. On the contrary, Borden recognizes the trick because he is already doing the same thing: living his trick.

    ~Tesla walks through the electricity on Angier’s first visit. ThIs is all the Tesla machine is ever capable of doing! CLUE.

    ~to all doubters, I leave you with two things to consider and research if necessary: unreliable narration, and other Nolan movies such as Memento and Inception. Nolan isn’t given to easily understood movies. They are convoluted and ambiguous.

    ~also, the book does not equal the movie. Totally rewritten, totally different media, it is source material only.

    ~CLUE if the drowned man was Angier (original or cloned), he would have used the hidden latch at the top (that Cutter shows us earlier in the film) to get his arm outside the box and at least attempt to finagle the lock. But it didn’t even occur to him; he panicked, something Angier shouldn’t have done, as he performs an escape trick from that very box! Yes, he may suddenly realize that drowning isn’t as pleasant as Cutter led him to believe, but on realizing this, he should at least try to escape through the armhole. It had to be a double.

    ~to me, the deciding factor is the very end. Just when everything appears neat and tidy–Borden is twins, Angier clones himself, killing the clones. We may have doubts, especially to the veracity of Angier’s testimony re: the Tesla machine, but the movie appears to have confirmed it, so… but wait. At the end, we are shown, for the third time, the field of hats and then a dead, floating Angier clone, as Cutter narrates, telling us that if we believe what we have just seen–if we truly believe in the magician’s trick w/o question–then we simply want to be fooled. Whoa, back it up, Nolan! You’re telling me the entire movie is a magic trick, and while I may not understand the prestige of the movie’s trick, I should at least be aware that it is, in fact, a trick. THE WHOLE MOVIE IS A MAGIC TRICK! DO NOT FALL FOR THE PRESTIGE, THAT THE TESLA MACHINE WORKS! THE TESLA MACHINE IS NOTHING MORE THAN ANOTHER PRETTY GIRL–IT’S THERE TO DISTRACT YOU FROM THE REAL TRICK!

    Reply
  150. Bea

    Okay. So after reading this, I rewatched The Prestige, trying to keep an open mind for both arguments. All I came up with is more questions, and not enough evidence to support either claim of a real or fake machine. I will just point out the parts that really confuse me. There are a number that can have dual explanations easily, but these are points where I really had some trouble.

    Tesla, to me, is one of the biggest mysteries of this film. One could argue that Borden staged the whole machine thing with Tesla and the trick is merely a trick. This theory is supported by the fact that it was Borden who gave Angier Tesla’s name in the first place. If the machine is real, we run into some logistical and motivational problems. For example, why on earth would Borden lead his rival to the one man who could create a cloning machine? If it was a wild goose chase, he could have used any name of any scientist. Why did he choose Tesla, who, it seems, was the most likely to even attempt an endeavour such as a cloning machine? I doubt it was because he thought such a machine could actually work, otherwise, sending Angier there makes no motivational sense for the character.

    I would like to add a little note here. It has been suggested that Borden used the trick before to create his twin (Fallon)? This, to me, seems unlikely because firstly, it assumes that Borden knew that the machine worked before he sent Angier to Tesla, and as I mentioned, this doesn’t seem to make any motivational sense at all. Secondly, numerous times in the film, it is suggested to us that both Borden and Tesla didn’t have prior knowledge of an existing working machine. Tesla, for instance, seems to be working out the kinks of the machine while Angier is visiting him. Of course, one could argue that this is just an act, but Borden also seems genuinely surprised when he sees Angier reappear alive as Lord Caldlow.

    Anyway, this is the part of the story that really throws off my theory that the machine is real. However, there are other points in the story where I cannot find any other explanation than a science-fiction one. I also think it is worth noting that these particular events also seem to occur after both characters finish reading each other’s fake journals.

    The first instance is when Angier performs the trick for the man he wants to sell his final show to (I can’t recall his name). I am having trouble figuring out how he accomplished this without a real machine. It could be that he uses a double. Some may suggest he brought Root back in, but if Root was so difficult to control before, why would Angier bring him back now with the guarantee that Root would not muck things up again. Perhaps he uses a different double entirely. This is a possibility, but for some reason I am having serious trouble with that idea. This will be explained more fully in the next paragraph.

    The second instance is the actual prestige. If the whole thing was a trick, how did Angier manage to get all the way back to the balcony in that short space of time. I cannot believe that that is the double standing there on the balcony, otherwise, Angier would really be dead and to continue the show would be pointless. So maybe they switch before the trick begins, which is possible, but I can’t believe that there are so many look-a-likes of the same man. Which leaves the theory that the double was kept alive until Borden came under the stage, at which point, the double was killed. However, that then raises the question of how Angier knew when to kill his double off. How did he know what night Angier would go under the stage? I can’t fathom an explanation for that. This also raises further questions about how everyone, even Cutter and Borden (who, throughout the film were quite quick to tell Angier apart from his double), believed Angier had really died. Both men saw the corpse up close and seemed convinced it was Angier. It seems that a double would have been an easy spot for either Borden or Cutter. Could Angier have had a twin brother as well? Possible but extremely unlikely and I don’t know how much evidence there would be to support this theory. I suppose I will have to watch the film again.

    In conclusion, I really don’t have a solid theory for either side of this argument. I find that there are holes for both arguments and I welcome theories for patching these holes up. However, as of now, I perch myself precariously on the fence.

    In the end though, whether the machine is real or not does not take away from what I experienced at the end of the film. Whether Angier drowned 100 copies or himself or a single man that was his double (both or which could be possible), it raises a lot of moral and ethical questions about the lengths people are willing to go for revenge, for their career, etc. and in the end, is it really worth price.

    Reply
    • Taylor

      It really never ceases to amaze me when I run across others who are almost as crazy as me to spend so much time in response to the ravings of another crazy person. Makes me giggle really thinking about it.

      Regardless, Bea, you are 100% accurate in absolutely everything you said. You weren’t off a lick. Obviously I have my own opinions on various pieces of what you brought up as issues… But all in all you spelled out the delimmas perfectly for both theories. They are evenly balanced, each with their own issues, holes and problems. And Nolan did this intentionally for a reason. I did not craft this balance myself, I merely am pointing it out. I know because he does this balancing act regularly in his movies. It’s is his calling card now.

      I’m currenting thumbing my answer on an iPad so I won’t write very long but I wanted to point one thing out. Remember when Angier was rueing the fact that he always ended up underneath the stage and his double always got the glory? I believe he figured out how to flip the tables around and send his double to the back of the stage while he finally got the glory. And yes, there is really only one way (in my theory anyway) for that to occur and it is with a better double than Root. But if anyone was motivated to find a better double than Root it definitely was Angier. He was just made a laughing stock out of by both Tesla and Borden. He’d purchased a useless spark machine. And he now found himself on the wrong continent with a fake journal in his hand laughing at him. Oh, the man was motivated.

      OR, as you say Bea, he had a twin all along and played everyone even better than Borden did. The odds against though (as you said) begin to pile up a bit too high for me at this point. So I doubt it. But, it is a very real possibility. Personally I think he finds another double, this time much better than the first and resolves his issue with missing out on the glory.

      Alright, for now I have to go. But well reasoned Bea, I can’t argue with one thing that you wrote. All spot on 100%. I see both options as equally tricky to resolve, but the one tie, that pushes me against the sci-fi definition is the fact that one of the best directors of all time went extremely far out of his way to weight down every moment of this movie in the real world. (never mind that creating something from nothing (ex nihilo) is impossible for anyone but God… Even in science fiction). It just doesn’t logically follow. And many disagree with that conclusion, and prefer the fantastic alternative to the theory I lay out here. Works for me. But at least see both options as viable before you decide – as you have done here Bea! So kudos to you.

      Taylor

      Reply
  151. GameGod

    Just a quick note on the nature of Nolan’s “magic trick”:

    If the movie (including the threads which suggest that the machine does indeed produce clones) is all a trick, and Angier was himself pulling off a genuine version of the Transported Man without clones, then the fact remains that at the end (assuming it was a double, possibly Root, who died in the water tank), Angier has died. This is completely undeniable, as we see one moving, thrashing Angier who Borden witnessed at close range as he drowns, and whom we can see rather closely, and (even if this is the Angier seen in the water at the very end) then we see Angier himself (clearly with an awareness of his past with Borden, and thus definitively is “the” Angier, unless we stray into the “Angier also has a twin” territory, for which I see no evidence in the movie whatsoever) being shot by a Borden.

    And once we concede that Angier has died, I’m left to ask: what is Nolan’s magic trick here? The magician who pulled off the “Prestige’s Prestige” (Angier, being the one who managed to trick the audience into thinking he was cloning himself, which by your explanation is the movie’s trick, if I understand correctly) really isn’t in a particularly ostentatious state at the moment: he is, in fact, dead. So what is Nolan showing off here? What is the point of a Prestige wherein the magnificient magician who really pulled it off and should be the “inner” emblem of The Prestige’s genius has, in the end, failed to outwit his in-movie opponent? Is he really the one to have outsmarted us when Borden outsmarted him, and when we all know how Borden did? Something, to me, rankles about the way Angier should be the one to have achieved something so special that “the majority of audiences will not see it at all” and that those who do can understand as the movie’s ultimate trick and “Prestige”, when he himself gets defeated, despite the trick, and killed by something which is comparatively crystal clear to us (Borden’s twin lives).

    I don’t mean to say I disagree with your view. I wouldn’t hold a single view on a movie such as this one, wherein the scriptwriter clearly has consciously aimed to add an air of ambiguity and leave various options open. This is merely something I want to clarify about the movie. Does it not strike you as odd that The Prestige’s Prestige, its final, ending trick, should have been performed by someone who thereafter was shortly outwitted, despite the trick, by his arch-opponent of the film itself? Would Nolan not have given victory to the magician he thought most representative of the film’s most “hidden” layer?

    Reply
  152. Taylor

    Hey there GG,
    You make a very well reasoned and thorough argument. I liked it very much. I especially enjoyed your (unintentional?) homage to the Monty Python ‘Dead Parrot’ sketch. ‘He’s an Ex-Parrot!!”. But I digress.

    In my previous comment to Bea I said this following line that speaks to your point dramatically and directly:

    Personally I think he finds another double, this time much better than the first and resolves his issue with missing out on the glory.

    The key bit being the “resolves the issue with missing out on the glory”… What I meant there was that Angiers discussed his dissatisfaction with being under the stage at the prestige of the whole trick. He missed out on all the praise and adulation as Root pranced about the stage. Right? Well I do think Angier’s final go at the trick solved this problem for several reasons. The first was so he could get said adulation. The second was because I think you are right – Nolan’s completion of the magic trick wouldn’t be very good without his magicians to see it happen!

    But wait, I have to take issue with one thing you said about Angier being the center of the movie – or some such. I really don’t think that’s the case at all. Yes, he was one-upping Borden – but he was always imitating him. Sure, Angier always out performed Borden’s lame stage act – but Borden always outthought Angiers. As indicated by his constant head scratching throughout the movie. But I really don’t believe Angier was the central piece of the movie. Borden and Angier sort of double helixed about one another but I think it was Borden who really was the center around which the movie rotated.

    (yes I know I’m not done answering, but bear with me here) As sort of a thought experiment, who would you say wins? At the end of the movie, who is the character that actually wins the movie – if that is even possible of course – do you think? Your answer says A Lot about how you interpret the movie’s ending, There are only 5 or 6 options really available, no matter your interpretation:

    1. Borden
    2. Angier
    3. Fallon
    4. Root
    5. Cutter

    What would you pick? I pick Fallon. Because Fallon (I believe) chose not to take Angier’s bait and try and find out what Angier’s trick was – which ultimately got Borden hanged. He had given up on the competition and realized it was (in the words of Ronald Reagan) Mutually Assured Destruction. It can’t be Root obviously, he died in the tank (or some other well-played facsimile) – at least in my opinion (as I’ve started to explain earlier). Angier tried to the end to con Borden (and actually he did con Borden very well – so well it got him killed). But he didn’t get Fallon to fall. In fact Angier didn’t even guess that Borden had a twin until he saw him in person at the end. ‘A Twin?!’. I mean really? The guy basically beat himself. It’s like when an obvious answer is staring you in the face and you just can’t see it – Angier definitely was forest for the trees blind – that Is for sure.

    Sorry – for the bunny trail. But I would love to hear other’s opinions on this. I’m sure the cloning faction doesn’t even give it a second thought – its obviously Angier. No?

    Let’s see – oh yes, GG, I definitely disagree with your “Angier is dead, this is completely undeniable.” statement. I definitely disagree. But I will admit he’d have to come up with a great double and one with a wonderful stage presence. But that is INFINITELY more plausible than a machine that xeroxes humans out of thin air.

    But I do wonder what you think of the fact that I believe Borden is the one that is hanged? That pogos through your minefield above where you declare it useless if the magician’s aren’t there for the meta-magician’s unveiling. Right? But it must be Borden who dies because it’s Borden who is completely addicted to figuring out what he’s doing behind that stage. It’s obvious. Each scene with Borden and Fallon has a tell as to which character was being depicted. Though it may cause you issues, no GG?

    Alright – going to go read. Done smacking this response out on my phone. Should have pulled my bluetooth keyboard out! But I loved your comment amigo. Very well thought through. Well done.

    Thanks,
    Taylor.

    Reply
  153. Dana

    Taylor:

    We’ve talked this to death. I know. But I’ve just recently watched it–rewatched it three times in a row. And, I’ve got to tell you, your own argument proves itself wrong.

    You say there is only one possible true ending because otherwise the movie isn’t playing fair with us, correct? It’s all about Nolan’s integrity as a creator.

    Well, as I just said, I rewatched it just a moment ago and I can tell you with absolute certainty that the machine had to have worked because Angier did NOT use a double in the tank. The audience can see that it’s him–if Nolan were to have the double as the solution to the New Transported Man, he easily could have done some fancy footwork with the camera so as not to completely and utterly expose the face of the drowning man to the audience–but he DOES. And it is the face of Angier. Showing the audience what is clearly and unarguably Angier, and then having it be a double, is not playing fair with the audience. We should be able to see something IF WE’RE WATCHING CLOSELY. Which I certainly was. And it’s Angier drowning (or a clone, or what have you). Not a double.

    In addition, Cutter identifies his body in the morgue. There is no getting around that. Saying he made a mistake isn’t playing fair with the audience–he’s never been wrong, or taken in by a trick–before. In fact, he was the only one to see Bordon’s trick for what it was. As a character, he is exceptionally perceptive. This mistake would come out of nowhere, and it isn’t playing fair with the audience.

    If what your argument is based on is the necessity of an explanation to uphold the promise given at the beginning of the movie, and not have a scifi cop out because that would cheat the audience and be “the worst movie ever made” as you have put it previously, then how could such things be in place and the Prestige still be a fair movie?

    Not to mention numerous other things, like why Angier didn’t learn his lesson from his dealing with Root that using a double only leads to trouble when they figure out their power. No–he’s far too smart and has too much to lose to repeat that mistake.

    If this is a fair movie, the director cannot have a previously reliable character positively identify a body and have it be the body of someone else. That’s a cop out if I’ve ever seen one.

    Dana

    Reply
  154. Dana

    in addition to your comment that finding another near-perfect twin that was easier to control than Root with far better acting ability would be “infinitely more plausible” than the machine working, I have to remind you that while that statement may be true in real life, it does not have to be true within the framework of the movie. Assuming the machine worked, just for the sake of argument, cloning and killing would be easier than finding another perfect double. therefore, your argument that it isn’t plausible because it doesn’t adhere to real-life rules isn’t valid, and is circular.

    Reply
  155. Taylor

    Hey there Dana!
    Welcome back. Maybe you’ve always been here and it’s me that I should welcome back!? Hehe.

    At the end of the day it comes down to this – is it an impossible Sci-Fi flick with a stunningly preposterous leap of faith (that it’s possible to create sentient matter from nothing) or is it an impossible drama with all the possible resolutions and explanations coming down to a twin in the wings or Angier finding another double?

    I find it intriguing that you keep using the phrase over and over again – “isn’t playing fair with the audience”. And I actually agree with you regardless of who is right on this front. If you are right then Nolan definitely hasn’t played fair with the rest of the movie he so deliberately constructed on the basis of reality only to shift realities in order to explain away the unexplainable. Or if I am right, then the audience isn’t cuddled and hand held all the way through the end explanation. Theyve been lied to – and GASP – that just isn’t done. Do anything you want throughout the movie, but tell the truth at the final wrap up, these are the rules.

    So I think we stay where we were before you mentioned Angier really is the one in the tank. I still believe it a double. And you still believe it isn’t. And yes, I understand anything is possible in a movie. But my objection has nothing to do with that at all. And you of all people know this. It has everything to do with Nolan’s distinct use of real magic tricks throughout the movie, and his grounding the movie in a very concret (non-sci-fi) movie. It’s like handing us a con movie that we the audience must figure out only to find out the painting was stolen BEFORE the movie’s timeline even began. (ocean’s 13 was it? which was an awful movie based on the same argument).

    You believe the “are you watching closely” applies to the details of the movie. And I believe the “are you watching closely” applies to the internal logic of the movie. You believe you are “watching closely” and I believe that I am. Heheh. It’s a pickle.

    But I’m ok with that.

    Reply
  156. GameGod

    I’m going to bypass for the moment Dana’s central point, which itself brings an axe to your premise (though I’ll leave it to you to defend, Taylor, and we’ll see how that goes), and going to examine your response to my post in particular.

    There are both points you’ve presented that I agree with and that I don’t agree with. For example, you show a rather detailed and nuanced (if potentially overthought) view of the possible endings and “who wins” in The Prestige, and I would agree with you that if there is a “winner” in this battle, it is the Borden/Fallon twin with the more reclusive personage. However, if this is the case and Angier’s trick is the film’s crux, this still does not answer the question of why Angier is dead. If he is the one presenting us what we should be impressed by, he should be alive. He should be the winner. Otherwise, he hasn’t really delivered his Prestige, has he? The trick is incomplete unless the magician who performs it has triumphed. I suppose Nolan could be saying that even the greatest trick is second to a “lack of obsession”, but if that’s the point, then surely it’s a mistake to begin and end the movie by asking us to look for the real trick. Thus, if Angier’s trick is The Prestige’s Prestige, he should be alive in the end.

    Now, you went on to say:

    “Let’s see – oh yes, GG, I definitely disagree with your “Angier is dead, this is completely undeniable.” statement. I definitely disagree. But I will admit he’d have to come up with a great double and one with a wonderful stage presence. But that is INFINITELY more plausible than a machine that xeroxes humans out of thin air.”

    Whilst I mean no offence, but there are a huge number of problems with this. Firstly, even if Angier did come up with a fantastic double, Angier himself has still died, because we saw him being shot in the ending, and that Angier was most certainly “our” Angier (or, possibly, a clone, but certainly not a double – he shows too much knowledge), whereas the double was previously drowned in the tank. There are no two ways about it: in order to suggest that Angier used doubles and survived the film’s ending, you’d have to propose that he got 2 phenomenally strong doubles and endowed one of them with the knowledge of his entire history in detail, and then encouraged them to act whilst being shot dead. This, I’m sure you’ll agree, is ludicrous even within the storyline. Another problem is that Root is both a “great double” and has a “wonderful stage presence”; we’ve seen both earlier in the film. The problem with your theory is a matter of film craft: to propose that Nolan’s intention was for us to introduce a completely new, unseen character into the storyline (a better double than Root) when an adequate one has already been seen is to misunderstand the crucial element behind the plot of a great movie. A character who plays a significant role (and no doubt this one does: we think he is Angier, after all, and he even fools Borden, not to mention Cutter) cannot just be assumed to exist with no further evidence; as much as we do not want to take what we see at face value, it would be more reasonable for the machine to work than for Angier (who wasn’t even the one to find Root – that was Cutter) to have found a never-before-seen double of extraordinary likeness. This would have been akin to Borden being the same Borden throughout the entire film (i.e. the same one of the twins), us never hearing of nor glimpsing Fallon, and then suddenly being told at the end that “Borden had an assistant called Fallon who was actually Borden’s identical twin and this is how he survived”. It is, as you might say, a “complete cop-out”.

    Finally, within the film itself (as Dana pointed out), it is hardly less likely that the machine worked than that a completely new and random character was introduced through to us.
    So I would be happy to stand with the viewpoint that Angier’s double was Root and that the machine never actually produced clones; but now there are two problems in the air for you. First of all, as I said above, you have to defend how Angier could possibly be The Prestige’s Prestige when he ends up dead; and secondly, (this being the actual challenge to your theory), you have to show why, as Dana pointed out above, it is reasonable to claim that the machine does indeed not work.

    ———-

    Apologies, I wrote that a while ago and I’ve now seen your response to Dana’s post above.

    I think the problem is that, even if we leave aside the problem of Angier (the great magician whose trick ruled the day of the movie) having died, the idea that Cutter could have mistakenly identified Root or another standard double (when I say “standard”, I don’t mean the sort of term you can escape simply by saying Angier had a “spectacularly good” double; I mean anything short of a clone or the original Angier himself, the latter of which possibly changed with every cloning) as Angier when it was not. Why not?

    As I have already explained, it would be poor filmcraft for Nolan to ask us to introduce a new character into the movie, the existence of which we have no evidence for in the film except for a hunch that without him it wouldn’t work. As I said, the idea that Angier should have found himself a better double than Root when the best Cutter could find was Root himself, when the film itself contains no evidence for the introduction of such a new character (and you see, it would be a CHARACTER, not a mere prop – any double of Angier’s better than the one Cutter could find must be a genuinely awesome find), simply is bad filmcraft in action: it is akin, as I noted, to Fallon being randomly introduced at the end with no prior evidence (and I don’t just mean that Fallon as a person doesn’t exist: I mean Borden doesn’t have his moodswings, there are none of those lines that pepper the film throughout that hint towards the Borden-Fallon twinship) – if this were the case, what would you have thought of the ending? Rather duplicitous, isn’t it, showing us what (according to the basic layout of the film) has no evidence for being 2 people, and then suddenly springing up another one whenever the first dies? This is why there is a serious problem with introducing a character with a major role for whom we have no evidence, and whilst I will accept that it is still very possible that Nolan as a scriptwriter is unable to control the filmcraft of his various interpretations at this level of depth (simply by having some people undertake the impression that the machine was a fake and putting forward an argument for it, he is already achieving more than the vast majority of film scriptwriters could ever hope to), it surely is better to assume that, if one plotline were to be taken as correct, it should be the one that is most coherently crafted, not one of the side possibilities.

    Now, back to reinforcing Dana’s point – Cutter has been shown to recognise Angier and Root as separate easily; thus, if it was Root that was dead, Cutter would have identified him as such. It was clearly Angier or a clone who died, then, surely?

    GameGod

    P.S. There’s something I’d like to clarify about the movie. How is it that one of the Borden/Fallon twins is shown having shot Angier, and at the very same moment, a Borden/Fallon twin is shown rushing to greet his daughter, when we have clearly seen that one of them was hanged? Thanks in advance.

    Reply
  157. Michael

    I’ve not been part of this discussion earlier… I’ve not read many of the posts… But I’ve read the original post ‘The Prestige Explained’ by Taylor
    I’m also confused between the 2 sides of the theory… I just have one doubt that (Sorry if I’m repeating it if anybody has solved it earlier)
    If the machine doesn’t work.. Then how do we have ‘Angier’ alive at the very end of the film… just before the credits… He seems alive to me because there is a small bubble in the water & his eyes are open…
    or Angier’s dead or just a wax statue as you say & that bubble is just there by mistake?…. I was Watching Closely so I saw a bubble… please explain it to me if anybody can…. Thanks in advance..

    Reply
  158. Stanley

    The thing that intrigues me most is the comparison made between Borden/Edison and Angiers/Tesla. Edison was known for his no nonsense approach (1% inspiration, 99% perspiration) whereas Tesla was known (though his research has been buried, made to look forgotten despite him being responsible for alternating current, wireless technology. His research into frequency and vibration was used in the HAARP machine.) to make things work ‘as if by magic’. For example, the scene with the light bulbs in the snow, he made things like that happen. My point is this, Tesla did make ‘magic’ happen. He may of been fooling Angier with the cloning machine, but the man was capable of magic, so to speak. He was capable of using forces and energies we don’t readily use (some say because he was right, you can provide free energy. If you head of GE, you’d want to keep yourself in a job and free energy for all would have you out of a job in no time). I think Nolan is up to something in his films, something along the lines of Kubrick’s subversion.

    Reply
  159. Kyle

    This is really late but I just happened upon this from your inception post (also late to that) but…here’s the thing. Someone had to die in the tank. Unless that was a big trick itself. That part of the movie was not narrated, and it shows Angier drowning. Part of me agrees with your theory, I also have to go back and watch again now that I’ve read this different perspective but it seems the movie does lead to possibly being sci fi, and I don’t know how that would contradict the premise of the movie. I’ll have to watch it again.

    Reply
  160. Mike H.

    I watched this for the first time recently, and as soon as it ended, I felt cheated. Not because I’m “American”, and need the narrator to be “God” or anything. Just that I feel a movie needs to play fair in order to have us “watch closely”. That’s what pissed me off. Don’t have me sit on the edge of my seat trying to figure things out only to pull the rug from under me at the end. However, as I’ll note, things began to change for me a couple of hours after I finished watching, and thought I had it out of my mind.

    I was enjoying the movie and how it looked. The acting and the story. Where I wound up all in:

    When Angier storms out of Tesla’s lab after realizing that Tesla was just using him for his $, and sees the hats and the cat? I was so happy. What a trick! A well thought out “magic” trick on the magician. Tesla was a genius after all. As soon as I saw the hats/cat, I smiled at the long con being played on this completely obsessed man. Tesla even tries to get him to stop repeatedly, so it seemed to me that this genius who was forced to con rich men of their money still didn’t feel great about it. “Listen, buddy. I can take your money. I can build you a “machine” so you can best your rival. But do you really want to do this? I’m telling you right now, this is a bad idea. No good will come of this.” Brilliant. Most times when we see a con on screen, the conning one is always so slick. What made this great was that he was feeling enough trepidation about what he was reduced to that he wanted to give him a way out.

    Almost like one or both of the Nolan’s read the book, and got the idea that it would be so much better if the machine didn’t work, and that Angier was getting conned. Another mindf*ck on top of all the other mindf*cks they throw at us.

    Then the movie gets to the end. When Fallon shows up, and we learn it has been identical twins living the same life? Genius! Then Angier begins to explain that the machine works, and we see him shoot his “clone”. This is the point that I started going, “Wait. What? Am I supposed to believe that the machine worked?” Really? Even after what I thought was obvious and that he was conned? OK. I’m more than a little skeptical at this point. But I’m at the end and have to see it through. Surely this will be explained! Maybe not spelled out clearly, but the clues would be there. Then it ends with “Angier” dying, Borden/Fallon not taking the bait (and actually beating the trick by not even caring to look). Fine. Then the tank happens. Did he get the body of the double back from the morgue? Did he have more than one double? I didn’t even think about a wax dummy, because, why would he have that? Why is the body in the tank? Borden was dead, revenge was achieved, he had won. I thought he wanted the box back because he knew it didn’t work. Keep anyone else from discovering that it was just a trick. But why have the body in it? He certainly wasn’t doing it for Cutter’s sake? He never wanted him to see it. Angier at this point would have known that Borden had a double, but he wasn’t expecting it to be twins living the same exact life as the same person. That shocked even him. So why the body in the tank? That’s what was bothering me. I’ve only watched it once, so I’m sure I missed a lot, but I would have been able to call the scene where Angier shoots his “clone” a lie. Why? Well, most of the movie is narrated by diaries that we are told are all lies. Therefore, anything they say is possibly a lie, and I can feel good about believing that Angier was just selling his trick. The body in the tank bothered me. That coupled with the scene of Angier basically killing himself now is telling me that it was real. Real?

    Not just cloning in general, but an exact replica? The same human being, same memories, same EXACT person? What? On top of that, out of nowhere the machine works? A movie that had nothing to do with science fiction, other than the stuff about Tesla (yes he was really in Colorado Springs, but he left on his own. No Edison to chase him away), but that was really fictional science, rather than science fiction, if you know what I mean. Tesla, a true genius and showman, was treated like a sideshow act. So I can see that working in this movie.

    ***Just as an aside, you mean to tell me that Tesla has created a cloning machine, is desperate for money, and has told no one else about it? This makes sense? If Tesla was really concerned about the harm the machine would bring, wouldn’t he have been better off lying and saying it didn’t work? Really, if the machine actually worked, what would stop Angier from exploiting it for other purposes? It just makes no sense that this would be a one off thing that Tesla has discovered a Xerox machine for humans, yet leaves it with the obsessed sucker? Really? Even in a sci-fi movie, this wouldn’t make sense. Wouldn’t 2 Tesla’s be able to outwork, and certainly outthink Edison? I could go on and on about how ridiculous this is.***

    I was so psyched to see this movie. I had been anticipating it for years. The fact that I was able to not get spoiled was amazing. Then it ends with the Human Xerox machine? I was pissed. I don’t consider myself a genius, but this just made me feel stupid. Like I thought I was watching some master’s trick.

    I told my wife, the movie was “meh”, and she shouldn’t bother to watch it. I have to say, even as I was saying it to her, I was changing my mind.

    The movie was great, up until the end.

    But it wouldn’t stop bothering me! I was so excited to see this, because it’s like Nolan’s a modern version of these magicians. I can see why this story attracted him. There has to be someone who put in some time to think about it! I can’t talk to my friends about it. Even if they had watched it, they would just think I’m crazy.

    Like a good percentage of people that commented here, I would think, I Googled “Prestige Explained”. I have read your post, and all comments. Some of you make great points, and some don’t. There are still questions. But you really have helped me in one way.

    I watched this movie, got pissed at the end, and suddenly, I’M ANGIER! Upset. Feeling cheated. Obsessed. That’s it! I’m not happy about the ending, nothing is changing that. But I can really see your point. Did Copperfield really move the Stature of Liberty? Of course not. How did he do it? Only he and the people working for him know for sure (unless someone found out, but that’s not the point).

    This entire movie was Nolan’s trick. The people in the movie are only there for us, the real audience. We are the ones that “want to be fooled”. We are the ones the magic trick is for. The whole movie is a damn magic trick! Absolutely brilliant!

    But, I’m still not happy with the body/waxed/double in the tank. Misdirection? Probably. But cheap. Then again, maybe the “body” in the tank was there for us, so we could be fooled?

    As I have said, I have only watched this once, and plan to watch it again, just so I can really see the difference between the Borden/Fallon. What a job of acting subtlety from Bale. I have to be careful though…I don’t want to be sent on a wild goose chase due to my sudden obsession!

    Anyway, I know it’s an older movie, but I just wanted to thank you for helping me believe that I wasn’t crazy, or that even if I am, I’m certainly not alone. Thanks for the space to write all this out. Definitely feel better now!

    I will now have to read your thoughts on Memento and Inception (Memento is one of my faves), just to see what you think. Thanks for your time and thoughts, Taylor!

    Reply
  161. Taylor

    Mike –
    Holy cow. Let me get this straight. You read my blog. AND THEN YOU READ ALL THE COMMENTS?! HAHAHAH. Dude, that is beyond obsession. They should come cart you away now to the funny farm. You are beyond savable. You are beyond hope! Let me put this into some perspective for you:

    My blog post alone is 3200 words. Not enormous – but nothing to sniff at either. Add in all the comments – Including your own lengthy comment Mike – and you get something like 46,000 words. 88 pages of single space text. hahaha. 204,877 characters. 46,000 spaces! hahaha. 3400 lines of text. To be completely honest – I’ve never read all the comments. Some people write, and I’m like – no no I know where this is going and I punt. I just walk away. But you read them end to end. That is impressive.

    So yeah, you are obsessed. You are definitely welcome here! hahaha.

    I can relate with your response. I felt that way myself. As I mentioned in the blog – the firedrill and the inability to see the end only created a heightened awareness of cheat-ment. As it were. But you had waited years to see the movie, so maybe that is in effect the same thing? I have recently started listening to some NPR podcasts (listen is too passive a verb here – devour is really more correct) and there was one I listened to yesterday (Radiolab – Cosmic Habituation) that devolved into a very Alice and Wonderlandian sort of experience. You can’t know this because if you know this it makes it do that, and if you make it do that you can’t know this so you can’t do this in order to learn this so you know that you don’t know that you know this… if you know what I mean. And I agree, its almost as if Mr. Nolan took the jukes one too far. The doublebacks became one too many as it were.

    But in the end – the Nolans created the perfect magic trick. It was the perfect thought experiment. Angier in the tank is the Inception equivalent of the spinning quarter. Except, in Inception, that’s a shallow explanation. It isn’t nearly as seminal as it is here. Most people (here and elsewhere I’ve read comments) don’t come at it assuming it went down as you thought it did though. It takes a certain TYPE of individual to come at the movie and assume the machine didn’t work. And by TYPE I literally mean, kind of thinker. I had to work at it to come to this conclusion. But there are those who just knew it didn’t work. These people interest me highly. But I will stop there before I start offending 5% of the population.

    But to your points specifically – I totally agree. I loved watching Tesla beg him not to let him con him. hahah. No really, you don’t want me to build you a machine. You really really don’t. Another way of thinking of this though is just a con-man setting the hook. If you’ve ever seen a movie called Nueva Reinas (in english – Nine Queens) they kind of set the hook of the con the same way. No, no, no – never mind. You really don’t want this. I’ll do it with someone else – it’d be better if you don’t. So there are two ways of looking at that interaction. Just depends on whether you see them as sincere or as insincere.

    I will admit that Angier’s having the doubles in the tank is odd from this theory’s perspective. If he had surmised that there was another Borden in play somehow – not a twin necessarily – but another one none the less, he was playing to beat the twin too? He’d just gotten his nemesis hanged. Game over. The only thing I can think of was that after the hanging Angier was headed down to clean up – and that was when Fallon walked in? Can’t really know obviously. But that sort of fits. Good thought though.

    As far as Memento goes – I don’t have a lock solid theory like I do here. Just a pile of theories, none of which are perfect. Each one has holes in it. Each one has its strengths. But that is such a great movie. If you like books like Memento – I just read a good one called, Before I Wake by Rachel Vincent. Similar memory thing going on. Similar double-double back going on. Not that hard to figure out – but still a great read in that same vein. I would like to hear your thoughts though after you’ve read the blog (JUST THE BLOG – STOP WITH THE OBSESSIVE COMPULSIVE COMMENT READING ALREADY). That community of comments though has flourished on its own – I haven’t babysat it like I have this one. I would guess the comments may even be longer than this one because they are so long generally. But I am the number one hit for “Memento Explained” on google, and I get a TON of traffic from that search alone. Hundreds and hundreds a day I do believe. And the Prestige is just a fun one. I was intentionally controversial there. I don’t know if I even agree with myself. hahaha. But it’d be great to hear your thoughts there too!

    Basically what I’m saying is this – I think you might be my new best friend. Long lost best friends. If you have an application form to fill out – I’d be happy to run the gauntlet! hahaha. Take care Mike.

    Until next time –
    Taylor

    Reply
  162. Miguel

    This review is purely subjective. Cutter saw and semi-examined Angier’s body during his autopsy, along with another doctor at least. Was that a trick as well? A wax figure on a slab? Borden’s character was on trial because there was a homicide situation. Who’s dead body was on trial? A wax figure of Angier? Thats the reason why one twin was executed? Doesn’t make any sense to me if it was. Some parts of your analysis may be true. But the one about the Tesla machine not working is purely debatable . I think you over analyzed this movie too much my friend

    Reply
  163. taylor

    Miguel!
    Totally agree – that I over analyze this movie. Totally agree. Can you give me the minutes and seconds mark where an autopsy is referred to? He sees him in the morgue – true. I remember that. Just don’t remember any reference to an autopsy. Granted, its been a bit since I watched this movie, so I could just be spacing a whole section of it. Thanks for the comment though Miguel! And for the reassurance that I’ve over analyzed yet again. Just wait until my Primer review comes out… you will think this was a walk in the park I’m guessing.

    taylor

    Reply
  164. Miguel

    Hi Taylor ,

    I was just wondering because Angier’s body was on a slab . I recall a doctor being in the scene and he asked cutter to identify Angier’s body . Once they removed the sheet, cutter approved and said it was angier. So was that body on the slab a wax figurine or something ? Also, they executed one twin for homicide/ murder.. There must have been a body lying in evidence right ? if not why else execute him? Plus cutter and one twin saw angier drown . What was that all about if we follow your analysis ? Forgive me for questioning . I thought that I had the movie figured out until I read your article . Now I’m confused . But I do remember those things that I mentioned above happening . Please enlighten me . Thanks

    Reply
    • Taylor

      Hey Miguel,
      I never said there wasn’t 2 Angiers. Do I know who died? No. But I know it wasn’t Angier. Could it have been Root? Maybe. Many here have commented on the differences between the teeth and the earlobes between Root and Angier. I always giggle a little at that. If Angier was going to game it and create a dazzling magic trick to end all magic tricks the first thing he would do would be to show that he tried it Borden’s way. But with subtle differences (earlobes and buckteeth – prosthetically altered) and then again later without the alterations. But then that assumes a twin. Or a near perfect double anyway. Which I’m OK with.

      Just because the machine doesn’t actually work – doesn’t actually duplicate anything – doesn’t mean he can’t play the game like Borden did. Which he did. Its just such a lazy solution to think that the machine “worked”. I was only asking about the autopsy because I thought I missed something critical. If the only evidence you have for the machine working (do not even try and say but what about the hats and the cats) is that there were two Angiers then you don’t have much to prove that a God Powered Duplication Machine exists. The burden of proof is on you to prove that something so implausible could exist. It isn’t my job to prove to you I am right, it is your job to prove you are right and that the evidence stands up to make something so implausible real. Just saying.

      Thanks for the questions Migel!
      Taylor

      Reply
  165. Mike H.

    Taylor –
    I don’t even know how to respond…I didn’t even consider how much I read. This doesn’t even count what I read BEFORE I found your post! Oh boy, I have a problem!

    I knew, after just reading your original post, that I found a place to “belong”, but I just HAD to read everything!

    I totally know that I don’t know that I know this! Or do I?

    I watched it again last weekend. It was even better. It really does come down to a magic trick that was for an audience of us. The great thing about the Nolan bros? They will never tell. What fun is a definitive explanation anyway? I watched Lost, and part of what made it so enjoyable was what I didn’t know. That had a huge part in why so many people were so disappointed in the way that it finished.

    Watching it again, I have to agree with you on Tesla. The perfect con is the con that is not a con. But the fact is, it is a con. I guess part of me just viewed this Tesla character (and people have to stop thinking of this Tesla as the REAL Tesla; he’s not), as someone who was backed against a wall, and had to resort to deceit and trickery just to keep on with his “real” work. So in a way, it’s possible he was being sincerely insincere.

    The “Angier” on the slab, and the “Angier” in the tank? I have no proof of this, obviously. If I had the ability to write/direct something like this, I would be doing it. What if the body in the morgue was the double, and the one in the tank was fake? Why? Maybe it was there just in case the trick against Borden didn’t work? I think Nolan left the body in the tank to give us an “answer” at any rate. Something “we” can point to and say the machine was real. The whole narrative of the movie changed in that end scene where Angier talks of the “clone”. It’s the only time in the entire movie that this sort of flashback is used. The rest of the movie is either what is happening “now”, or what is being read from the journals. So not only do we have a movie that has two narrators that lie, but a change in what we’ve been watching. So, so good.

    I haven’t had a chance to read your Memento post yet, but I definitely plan to. I think I’ll watch it again and then check out the post. I’ll comment, but I’m going to skip the rest of the comments. Don’t get angry if I cover ground you have already gone over with in previous comments! I can’t put myself through it again. I think if I realized how far off the grid I was going? I would have never posted a comment. I would have closed the browser, shut the lid, and walked away. Maybe some crying in the corner. Oh, hindsight…

    I didn’t though, and I’m glad I posted! Even reading some of the, well, really bad comments added to my enjoyment of the OP you wrote, and the movie itself. I’m crazy, no doubt. But thankfully, I truly believe I am NOT crazy about what “The Prestige” was. One of the best magic tricks I have ever seen.

    Angier didn’t get Fallon in the end, but he certainly got me.

    Oh, I read the last comments too (you and Miguel)..just so I can make sure I completed this journey.

    Long lost friends that never were? Brothers from different mothers? Perhaps. But it is certainly nice to find a place to be crazy online, with civility and humor. It seems the trolls do not like Nolan movies…perhaps the Memento post will prove me wrong. Wait…I’m not supposed to read those!

    Thanks for your time and response. Even if you did spell out just how bonkers I am.

    Cheers!

    Reply
  166. Mike H.

    Oh, and really, I want to state again how ridiculous it would be that Tesla could in fact create a machine that cloned people. He’s desperate for money, in a “war” with Edison, but sells his FREAKING CLONE MACHINE to a rich obsessive who wants to do a magic trick? What? If I created a machine, today, that could clone humans, I wouldn’t have to obsess over this movie.

    I’m closing the lid now…

    Reply
  167. Mike H.

    Damn! I realized the end scene also showed us Fallon explaining the trick, and it shows us the “memory”. Oh well…

    Reply
  168. @cicero4patpro

    I posted ages ago and was with the Taylor on the machine did NOT work team the whole time. Randomly stopped back by, glad to see the debate continues.. Welcome to the team Mike H!

    Reply
  169. Matthew

    It seems that if Nolan decided that the book’s “machine works” angle would be better as a “machine doesn’t work” angle in the movie, he did a lousy job of installing it. Water tanks with wax figures or dozens of murdered doubles are much more ridiculous, in the context of the film, than a working machine. I just don’t think you can dismiss this with “I don’t need to explain it.”

    Reply
  170. red

    in order to keep sarah happy why did fallon not be borden whenever he was with sarah, why did they switch around when it came to being with sarah? when it came to the women why did they not keep it so the woman borden/fallon loved was the woman he was with.?

    also quite confused about the scene in the restaurant when borden comes from a show drunk with fallon and olivia and olivia keeps calling borden freddie in front of sarah? and then sarah says ‘freddie?’ when olivia leaves with fallon, borden says ‘well that’s my name’ and she says ‘not at home’ and borden replies ‘well i’m not always at home am I???

    there is also the other scene when borden is with olivia and she calls him freddie, is that fallon’s real name?does she not wonder why borden is called alfred and freddie?

    hope these questions make sense, just watched the film again and trying to drag myself out of the confusion. don’t know if I’m missing something

    Reply
  171. What the what?

    Nolan intended for multiple opposing interpretations of this movie and many of his others. He wants us to talk about them years after the movie is released (this thread is Exhibit A). He wants us to question who we should trust but leaves us with little choice. In Memento, he knew (and said) we would be uncomfortable when we realized that we had to choose whether to trust Teddy at the end (beginning?). Just like he knew there is no one absolute conclusion in Inception. He has realized the audience’s need for certainty, but he rarely gives it to us. So I think it’s plausible to argue either way that the machine really worked or that it didn’t. If asked, I don’t think Nolan would ever tell us.

    Reply
  172. Mr.X

    I had to give this movie a try at least two times to understand it, and understand that the true beauty of this movie lies on the ambiguity : either it was a trick , or the cloning machine actually works.
    Congratulations for your exposure of the theme, and although I agree , or mostly I like to believe this version of yours, I must point out a contradition:
    -If the machine never worked, and Angier faked it using its double, how come in 1:36:10 on the movie angier talks to Ackerman, and then gets teletransported to another place and talks to him again ? If it was his double, the drunk one , it should´ve been obvious, but it isn´t and it´s quite unuarguable that it is the same Angier. So this means the the machine worked after all?

    Reply
  173. Taylor

    Mr. X,
    It means nothing of the sort my friend, rather it means that Angier finally got his showmanship A game on to best his arch rival. And this nonsense about its being a long time since he’s seen ‘real magic’ is bullocks and tripe. So he was fooled! Good on Angiers for making it happen finally. Hehe.

    Anyway, glad you enjoyed the digging anyway whether you agree or not. It is fun to think about.
    Taylor

    Reply
  174. Mr.X

    Holy Cow , when i first watched the movie 4 days ago, I knew that it MUST ´ve been something further what we are told on the end of the movie, but i certainly didn´t expect to get so into this – i´ll i´ve just read all the comments of your blog about Prestige and i´m about to watch it for the 3 time, as well as Dane ( i think) i can´t bear that Nolan would leave no clues to either it was a trick or not. But we´ll come to that later.
    First of all, I don´t think that you´re crazy as Mr.pirate suggested, you seem to be quite an intelligent guy that pulled off a very interesting theory that either it is possible within what we saw in the movie or either Nolan should have left clues to that – it seems confusing, so let´s get this straight:
    1 – Your theory abou the movie being a trick is simple marvellous, brilliant : the fact that one could write a movie that we have to descrit everything we are told and just follow the structure of a magic trick: – [b]The Pledge [/b] we are shown something ordinary: The movie itself, all the scenes about Magic tricks being nothing but Tricks.
    -[b]The Turn[/b] : We see that angier can do the transportation trick without any tricks. The
    – [b] The Prestige[/b] : We are told, shown, and deceive to believe that it is a sci-fi film, and that the cloning machine is real . And really, why shouldn´t we? After all, it´s a film and Nolan can do whatever we wants, and it´s normal to accept a justification to the whole film given by the film itself, right? Well, not on Nolan´s films one can say, but what truly matters is this:
    2- We should only discuss this matter of either it was a trick or not IF THERE IS Something suggesting it. To me, a good but vague hint is the finale, where the died angier is shown in the tank and we hear: [b]«Now you’re looking for the secret. But you won’t find it because of course, you’re not really looking. You don’t really want to work it out. You want to be fooled. »[/b] indicating that the last part, the reveal about the clonings is a trick, but we don´t even suspect of it, like when we watch a good magic trick: WE WANT TO BE FOOLED. However, I don´t think this is enough, there should have been more obvious clues left to point to this theory don´t you think? So Taylor and eveyone else, apart from the arguments that are based on ” nolan would not make this a sci-fi film”, in other words, dispite our believes in one or other theory, if you were to look at the movie by itself, WHICH EVIDENCE THERE IS THAT SUGGEST THAT THE MACHINE IS A FRAUD? I´m not asking evidence that is compatible that should theory is possible, but evidence that proves that it might be true. I mean I can argue that the machine doesn´t work, and what truly happens is that exists a Fucking giant holy green peguin that cloned angier, and that is something you can´t prove otherwise 😉
    4- Also, Taylor sometimes your anwsers are fallacious : you tend to justify your answers because You take for granted that IT´S TRUE THAT THE MOVIE IS A TRICK, you seem to have so much faith in your theory and sometimes you can´t really understand other people´s points of view, so you can justify the hats and the cats, and the fact that Angier found such a perfect double or twin or whatever that fooled Cutter, Ackerman around 1:36:10, that fooled the medics that identify the body, that fooled Borden, butI MUST ASK YOU what evidence there is to suggest such a theory? otherwise you´ll be always vulnerable to being called insane like Mr.Pirate suggested hehe

    Glad you took the time to read, cheers from Portugal !

    Reply
    • Taylor

      Mr. x
      Let us be clear, only because this is a movie are we having this discussion. Let’s pretend for a moment that we went to a PLAY called The Prestige. And we watched the exact same performance, but in real life, not on the silver screen, right? We enjoyed the entertainment and then we went out for a beer. While enjoying our Guinness (has to be Guinness otherwise this thought experiment falls all apart) you say, “Man, that was amazing that they would clone someone just to do a performance like that.”. And I would quickly retort – “you wouldn’t happen to have read my blog would you?”. No seriously, I would have said – “It’s impossible to create something out of nothing… Ex nihilo creation is physically impossible, unless you are God himself.”. Right? It just cannot be done. But because it’s conveyed over a medium that makes the impossible possible all the time you are making me explain my evidence. Which is backwards in the least, but alright.

      * Tesla never shows us a working machine – pile of hats, true. Cloning, no.
      * The diaries are revealed to show that their authors are ACTIVELY lying.
      * All of the movie’s magic acts are explained with non sci-fi answers but Angier’s, seems Strange that.
      * Borden tells Angier the cypher is Tesla, why send him on a false wild goose chase? The cypher should have been Edison!
      * Borden showed Angier he needed to live the act – and Angier did it… Made Borden desperate even.
      * Why use a cloning machine as a teleportation machine?! Just make it The CLONING MACHINE act, infinitely better trick!
      * Tesla was desperately broke and needed Angier’s money – why didn’t he clone gold, or diamonds instead?
      * If the machine actually worked, revenge would then be the last thing on his mind. It would be an Epicurean answer to prayer.

      I’m sure I can up with more – I’ll add as I think of them. But right now I’ve had like 5 hours of sleep in the past 48 and need to crash. Yes, I appear flippant sometimes when answering, but maybe this list will help explain why.

      Taylor

      Reply
  175. Taylor

    Mr. X –
    Nicely done. Thanks for taking so much time to read through so much! Seriously. That is a LOT of reading. And yes, you are correct… sometimes I take it for granted that I am right. But that is just a symptom of SO MANY comments, and answering the same questions over and over again. So, for you at least, I will slow down and see if I can sum up the evidence for you indicating that the machine does not work. I’ll give it some thought – and regale you with my list in the next day or two? So give me a bit to respond – ok? I don’t want to respond too quickly and flippantly. If you are going to take the time to read everything, then I need to take the time to thoroughly respond.

    Until then.
    Taylor

    Reply
  176. Mr.X

    Well first of all, I must thank you for the quick responses, and congratulate you for your blog , it´s really good! I´m glad to see you took and will take time to answer those questions, and that you have an open minded – because as I said sometimes it feels like you stick to your own theory and nothing other than that. So Thank you !
    Ok although I enjoyed that scenario (especially the Guiness part), you have to admit that such a conjecture wouldn´t be appropriate in real live we wouldn´t for sure discuss if the machine worked, because if we did so either we´ve had too much beer or we would be in a mental institution already , so:
    – This is a movie, therefore Nolan CAN create whatever we wants. Just because what appears in a movie is fiction it doesn´t mean it´s true in the movie (or do you think that in Minority report that “machine” is a fraud too?)
    – That said, we can´t say that believing that Cooperfield made the Statue dissapear is the same believing the machine works , because believing the first is believing that magic exists in real live and Cooperfield is a wizard, and believing in the second means that we believe in one possible interpretation of the film – IT´S POSSIBLE THAT NOLAN DID WANT IT TO BE A SCI-FI FILM, BUT IT´S NOT POSSIBLE THAT COOPERFIELD MADE THE STATUE DISSAPEAR, , THEREFORE:
    1- Cooperfield HAD TO use a trick
    2-Nolan used a trick if he wanted us to believe that the machine worked(and it didn´t work) OR Nolan didn´t use a trick and the machine works !

    About your bullet points,
    “* Why use a cloning machine as a teleportation machine?! Just make it The CLONING MACHINE act, infinitely better trick! ” Remember that ackerman said they should dress it a little bit , to make it look like a trick. Also, if you remember, angier said something to tesla like:” If people believed that I real cut a woman in half, people would scream, not clap.”

    * Tesla was desperately broke and needed Angier’s money – why didn’t he clone gold, or diamonds instead?
    We are not told that tesla didnt clone money or gold, it could have happen.

    But the point I am trying to make is: All those evidences are compatible with a the machine being a fraud, but merely compatible, it doesn´t prove it.
    So, this far Great Evidences to your theory would be:
    * Tesla never shows us a working machine – pile of hats, true. Cloning, no.
    * The diaries are revealed to show that their authors are ACTIVELY lying.
    – And the finale of the film with (“you WANT to be fooled”) showing the dead angier.

    But I think that it should have been more clues in the film to support such a extreme theory, don´t you think?

    So after you take some time to sleep I´d really like to know what made you think within the movie that this theory is possible, not some events that can be explained by it, but something that suggests the audience we have been fooled all this time –

    P.S: and if I haven´t made myself clear, I believe in this theory , it´s amazing, but since this is a film, if this theory is true, Nolan must have left some clues, and not leave this magnificent interpretation only to people with such a great imagination

    Reply
  177. Taylor

    X – having read all the comments you also know that I have said time and time again that I cannot conclusively prove that I am correct. Similarly though, my opponents cannot prove me wrong. That’s how Nolan built the movie, and he did this on purpose. Look at Memento and Inception – both are similar in that Nolan has built a franchise base on movies with possibilities.

    There is no better defense than common sense in this movie. The fact that the audience is explicitly told they really DON’T want to learn the truth. They want to be fooled. And they do. Nolan spelled it out for them. LOOK DEEPER. And you wonder why my theory works?!? He told us to figure it out. He told we were fooled. That the movie itself is a magic trick… And would rather classify it as a science fiction movie than a drama – even though it’s NOT a science fiction movie but rather a drama.

    AND THEN YOU ASK ME WHAT THE CLUES ARE BEYOND MY GREAT IMAGINATION? Hehehe. The magic trick within a magic trick is Nolan’s real piece de resistance. His true triumph.

    Reply
  178. Mr.X

    In the end of the day, I agree with you. I guess that in order to this theory be possible( or to conclude that it was Nolan intention) that Nolan Had to more any clues other than the “you want to be fooled” part, and the narration being not 100% trustable etc, but I guess that since this is a Magic trick, it´s really part of the trick not letting us now HOW he did it, because no one cares about the secret they said, it´s all about the trick we use, they said !

    Well what really bothers me is that in Memento for exemple, the truth about Teddy is something that we are left wondering, here we are shown tha the machine works, and not much evidence otherwise, but as I said i´ll give this film a third time hoping that there´s some proof 😉

    Reply
  179. Mr.X

    In the end of the day, I agree with you. I guess that I was thinking in order to this theory be possible( or to conclude that it was Nolan intention) Nolan Had to add more any clues other than the “you want to be fooled” part, and the narration being not 100% trustable etc, but I guess that since this is a Magic trick, it´s really part of the trick not letting us HOW he did it, because no one cares about the secret they said, it´s all about the trick we use, they said !

    What really bothers me is that in Memento for exemple, the truth about Teddy is something that we are left wondering, here we are shown that the machine works, and we´re shown much evidence otherwise, but as I said i´ll give this film a third time hoping that there´s some proof 😉

    Reply
  180. Jacob Adam Brooks

    Ok… where to start.

    First I am SHOCKED that you spend this much time writing about how the audience has to open their eyes when you’ve seemingly missed several of the movie’s obvious clues. The majority of your arguments are not crazy, I do believe they are wrong, but they’re not crazy. The problem is that you seem to base a lot of your theory on your own misinterpreted facts. I’ll get to those in a moment.

    Let me say bravo to you. You’re defending your entire theory with

    “anyone can buy 200 hats tand 200 cats that look exactly the same”
    “Angiers clearly found 50 doubles or 50 wax statues to put into the water.”
    “anything said in the diaries we can just assume didn’t really happen.”

    That takes balls… you’re basically scrubbing everything that we SEE HAPPEN and instead making a guess and defending it by telling us we just have to believe what we saw didn’t happen.

    Back to your mistakes.

    “Towards the end Borden (not Fallon, but Borden) became obsessed with trying to figure out how Angiers accomplishes his final Teleporting Man technique.”

    WROOONNNNGGGGGG

    How do you not understand this part of the movie? You keep referring to them as Fallon and Borden. They’re both Bordens. They’re twin brothers. One brother dresses up like Fallon half the time and the other brother dresses up like Borden half the time. The correct way to refer to them would be Brother A and Brother B because neither of them were either Borden or Fallon all of the time… they constantly switched. This is explained to you!

    The beauty of the movie isn’t that the audience is duped the whole time… its trying to figure out afterwards all the little nuances that you missed the first time. When you watch the movie it is very easy to see which brother is playing Borden at any given moment. The brothers have different personalities. One is more careful and considerate while the other is more brash and daring.

    Brother A is the brother that is married.
    Brother B is the brother that tied the wrong not and killed Angiers wife.

    Brother A tells his wife that he loves her (and she can tell he means it)
    Brother B tells her he loves her and she says “not today you don’t”

    Scarlet Johanson calls Brother B “Freddy” and he likes it.
    Brother A tells her “don’t call me that.”

    Brother A tells Brother B to leave Angiers alone… that they should let him have the trick.
    Brother B yells at Brother A about “why cant you figure it out?”

    Its Brother B that goes to the theater to find out and brother B that is arrested and hanged.
    Brother A kills Angiers at the end and gets his daugther back.

    So you saying its borden and not fallon is just insane. You’re acting as if one is Borden all the time and the other is Fallon all the time. They clearly explain in the movie that they switched off an on and thats the whole point with the wife telling him she knows whats going on and she can tell when he doesn’t love her. Because Brother B DOESNT LOVE HER!!!

    Your second major mistake….

    “If Borden was the one that directed Angiers to Tesla in order to get the cloning machine, why would he be so flummoxed by the trick? Wouldn’t it be obvious to Borden that his rival was using the same cloning methods as himself, only plotted out in a different way?”

    Are you serious with this question? I feel like I’m taking crazy pills or something…

    Borden directed Angiers to Tesla to get him out of the country. He directly refers to this in his journal. He tells Angiers that Tesla had nothing to do with it but “I got you out of the country.” He was just sending Angiers on a wild goose hunt. Borden never had Tesla build a transporting machine… Tesla was merely his keyword to deciphering his journal.

    The Borden’s are so “flummoxed” because they sent him on a wild goose chase and he returned with the greatest trick of all time… they had no idea it was an actual cloning machine… and why in the hell would it “be obvious to Borden that his rival was using the same cloning methods as himself, only plotted out in a different way?” ???????? He WASNT using their same method. They were twins. That was the method. The trick was living as one person. That’s the reveal. When the movie takes you back and shows you every instance of the twins being the same person like when one of t the brothers had to slice his two fingers off as well so he could match.

    You’ve basically given yourself a convenient excuse for any theory that doesn’t match your own. You say…

    Pretty much anything you don’t agree with that happens during the diary narration you can chalk that up as a lie by the narrator.

    Nolan wouldn’t make it that obvious. (even though you obviously missed several huge pieces of the film)

    You can’t prove the machine worked without a doubt so therefor it must not have worked.

    Those outs are some mighty powerful tools to have on your side. Quite frankly I believe you are missing the fun in the movie. The fun in the movie is rewatching it and seeing everything you missed. Understanding the second time around how all the magic tricks worked (like when Brother A goes on a date with his future wife and says “that lock can’t keep me out” and he leaves and two seconds later he’s inside her apartment waiting for her… its Brother B that’s actually waiting for her but the second time around you’re supposed to understand that.) You’re turning this into a debate about whether or not 80% of what we saw was actually true… I choose to belive what the filmmaker decided to show me.

    Up until the end it is loosely possible that the machine doesn’t work… which is probably why Nolan chooses to show you the other 50 something bodies floating in glass tanks. So that it is confirmed! The fact that Angiers chose to kill what he incorrectly assumed were the clones by drowning is a direct reference to him thinking it was a peaceful death since he is never sure whether it will be him or the clone in the box.

    The original Angiers drowned the first time his version of the trick was performed in front of a life audience. Every Angiers you see after that is one of the clones… only each clone thinks he’s the orginal. After 50 clones have died even the last clone believes he’s the original Angiers.

    I’m sure you can just say that you don’t believe thats possible but thats the point…. ITS A MOVIE! In the movie that type of cloning is possible because Tesla invents a machine that can do it. You can’t then go into the real world and explain how its not possible and thus IN THE MOVIE it must also not be possible.

    I appreciate the thought you’ve put into it, but you’re blatantly wrong about half the points you make and while you reference your brain as proof I’ll keep referencing the source material… you know, the actual movie that told me what happened. Next time you watch it try actually watching and listening instead of deciding that half the movie is a lie and that your version is the actual correct version.

    Reply
  181. Taylor Holmes

    Jacob!
    Great response. Love it. And I don’t disagree with your argument. You align perfectly with one logic flow of this movie. It lines up logically and true to form. Your side of the argument goes something like this – the movie’s cloning right turn is a clever move that no one sees coming. The magic tricks being explained are simply a way to setup the sci-fi twist and unbalance the viewer. Borden sends Angier on a wild goose chase and surprisingly it is Borden’s undoing.

    Got it. I’ve always understood this flow. I get it. Its exactly what the movie says happened. So it doesn’t take a genius to see this interpretation – or understand it. So kudos to you. I agree that this is what the movie says happened.

    Before I rebut the movie itself, I will speak to your brilliant discussion of Brother A and Brother B. You and I are in violent agreement on this point. I call your Brother A – Fallon. He was the calmer more thoughtful twin. He loved Sarah – and married her. And I call your Brother B, Borden. He was more impulsive. He loved Olivia and talked her into spying. And he is also the one who was hanged at the end.

    Yes, they took turns as each other… but they each had their own personality and it was consistent throughout. I have been writing on this page for years now – and may have accidentally flipped the names inadvertantly. But I 100% agree with you. Though I call them Borden and Fallon your Brother A and Brother B is completely aligned with how I see them. So yeah – I COMPLETELY AGREE. And I’m sorry if I crossed the wires somewhere. I’m happy to hear where I disconnected. But you are right, they are distinct individuals that are constantly switching. But it is discernible.

    Borden directed Angiers to Tesla to get him out of the country. He directly refers to this in his journal. He tells Angiers that Tesla had nothing to do with it but “I got you out of the country.” He was just sending Angiers on a wild goose hunt. Borden never had Tesla build a transporting machine… Tesla was merely his keyword to deciphering his journal.

    Fine. I get it. Don’t buy it. But I get it. It’d be like me saying – “Jake, what we need is a car that can travel at light speed. Go figure that out – and by the way Mr. Ford was the guy I was talking to about that. PROMISE.” In the hopes of just getting rid of you and then – WHO KNEW?! Mr. Ford actually did create a car that can drive at light speed. Wow. I’m sorry – that just makes no sense. I don’t care who tells me that is exactly what happened. Either its really poor writing or something else is going.

    The Borden’s are so “flummoxed” because they sent him on a wild goose chase and he returned with the greatest trick of all time…

    My interpretation goes more like this: Let’s trick Angier and send him to Tesla. Tesla is in on it and is going to totally play this guy. Its going to be great. And then he comes back with a light show and a new trick. Borden says to Fallon – what the?! I thought he was going to be mad? And here he is with a new trick? What is going on here? Tesla either flipped here or we are missing something. Our goal was to make him mad and here he is with a new show. What happened?

    As far as my diary narration goes and the fallibility of the narrator – yes, I know. Clever. But that is exactly what is happening. They are intentionally jacking each other nine ways to sunday. To not take that into account is extremely myopic. For you to say I “missed” things in the movie chalks me up as a simpleton. I choose not to believe them – it isn’t that I don’t get it. I hate that movie.

    So let’s say I’m wrong. Let’s say the Nolan boys intended for the machine to actually work. Let’s say that they read the book and are interpreting it literally. Let’s say they want their movie put on the Sci-Fi shelf. Let’s say I am 100% wrong – and am not even close. Right? I still say my movie is better than theirs. And their movie should be shredded and burned. Even IF you are right (and just for the record I understand every argument you are making, you’ve said nothing really very new or revelatory – though it has been very well said and intriguing all the same) I still prefer my redicing of the movie because the alternative is too painful if true.

    For kicks and giggles though – how would that movie have worked for me? If there were hints that all the magic tricks that were explained were actually as a result of cloning and we saw foreshadowing to that effect. For example – the canaries in the canary trick (“You killed his brother” or what have you) are show to have been cloned. The water tank was shown to be done via cloning. As opposed to it being a result of clever knots and fake locks. But to say that the movie explained every single magic trick EXCEPT the sci-fi one just doesn’t work for me.

    So yes – chief, you are right. You have it perfectly understood and explained. I agree with you. That logic is perfect. You have laid it all out perfectly and I don’t disagree a bit. But to think I’m missing the fun of the movie cracks me up. Look at this blog post! hahaha. If this isn’t having fun I don’t know what is. There are 52,000 words on this page. Over a 110 pages single spaced. Over 200 unique comments. Many of them are thousands of words long – like yours. Even if I am putting you all on – its a brilliant way to get a conversation going. hahaha.

    Right – so with that I will say, well done. Good comments. Nothing here I don’t agree with. Yes, that is what the movie wants you to believe. 100%. I agree. And I believe that you haven’t gone deep enough. And that frustrates you I’m sure. Sorry about that. Let’s just agree to disagree. Actually, I don’t disagree with you. That is what happened. But at the same time, it isn’t. There was much more to learn here.
    Taylor

    Ps – my blog is like dog slow for some reason today. I’m working on fixing it presently. Sorry about that!

    Reply
  182. Kenny Martin

    Hey,

    The one thing I have a question about is when Borden goes under the stage at the end of the movie to try and figure out Angiers’ secret, he sees Angiers struggling and yelling, which means he was alive. So, the bodies in the tanks couldn’t of been dummies because they wouldn’t be able to move. And I have a hard time believing Angiers could find 100, or however many, look-a-likes. I can believe the hats and even five cats, but 20 (or 100–it’s never explained how many times Angiers actually performed his trick) “twins?” That’s inconceivable for me. Wow, but if he did somehow do that, then Angiers would have murdered 20+ people–that’s really getting his hands dirty! Also, if the Tesla machine is a scam, like you say, then how does Angiers teleport? That portion of the movie takes place in the present, and is not narrated by a diary, so it can’t be a distortion of reality. As you say, the movie explains all of the other tricks, so why wouldn’t it explain this last one?
    Anyway, I’m just curious to hear what you have to say on that point. I actually just discovered your site, and think it’s awesome! “The Prestige” is one of my sister and I’s favorite movies, and I just bought it for her birthday present and so we just watched it again. The quotes at the beginning and end always bugged me, though (“Are you watching closely?” and “You aren’t really looking…You want to be fooled.”) So, I am really intrigued by the explanation you’ve proffered. I’m going to watch it again with this perspective in mind soon!
    Keep up the good work 🙂

    Reply
  183. RatStar

    I feel compelled a bit by my own smugness and the fact that I have dissected this film over and over and came to valid conclusion, to comment again on this blog as I keep seeing people who watch this film but no one is really watching closely ,as the film clearly instructed.If any one wants me to explain the key details of how I came to my conclusion I will happily do so but I just want to mention a few things now ; I want to challenge anyone who have seen this film to go and watch it again as if they are Columbo or homicide detective ,but instead of combing over every detail , focus only on one theme, money.If you do that you will absolutely see a bigger picture and motive for these two rivals.In fact you will not come to a mediocre conclusion or struggle as to who lives ,dies or who`s trick works or is faked,in fact you will find that “the secret impresses no one ,the trick you use it for is everything.”Ironic in this scene that we focused so much on the double image on the coin ,instead of the coin itself.The answer to what knot falls away almost manipulatively and deliberately.And the fact of the matter is at the end of a magician`s act what did he really fool you out off, your money and there are many many references indicating that this story`s rivals live in different classes.The one a rich wannabe magician that would steal from others and two brother on the other side of the Atlantic who have dress and act less formal but their magic and cons more advanced more intellectual.

    The question to whether the Machine really worked or not does not change the answer or task we as the audience are given in the final lines from Cutter ; “Now you’re looking for the secret. But you won’t find it because of course, you’re not really looking. You don’t really want to work it out. You want to be fooled. “Many people started looking for clues whether Angier is still alive.He was the villain in case many where wondering disguised as the good guy.

    Off course people don`t want to be fooled or conned so we start focusing on any detail to unravel this mystery when everything was laid in front of our eyes.
    A good twist isn`t one that changes your expectation of the entire plot or surprises you with something obvious you feel like face palming yourself ,but something that presents itself as the new grand question or answer we weren`t expecting but is in fact a fallacy only to distract us from the very answer we never get to see.And the real answer/twist would never be revealed in a great film.Its weaved within the structure of the story.
    I wonder if Angier cloned money,Fallon Borden certainly would`ve and so one question you should ask yourself when Cutter tries to sway you with his final words , not what knot did Borden/Fallon tie or even if it is ironically the same knot 3 people got hanged by and killed,but why did Borden tie that knot? Money

    Reply
  184. zac

    @justletgoMC you are right but you go to far, to posit teslas significance in the 1800’s is a major theme in the film which definetly looked to highlight this mans achievments! this man did not create a clone machine but he did however create wireless electrical transfer (the kind of chargepads that have just come on the market within the last 3 years, that charge mobile phones and electricals etc) the radio and many other creations that were stolen and claimed by others as there inventions. i think the point here is that tesla for his time was a “magician” as the his creations were way beyond comprehension at this time. anything seems like magic unless you understand the process, just like the magic of the film, once the “magic” is explaained its quite a simple solution, the geniuos lay in figuring it out?!?!
    @dana this film clearly sought to highlight tesla as a hero if only to shed light on his brilliance, we are shown this as eddison as with “reality” is shown to be unscrupulus and ruthless. and so it makes no sense to vilafie tesla as a scam artist, tesla is clearly shown to be a victim!?
    @ previouse other statemenst i feel part of the films point is that angier went too far, lost all sense of morality and thats why cutter saw this and told him he would not follow him to colorado “obsession is a young mans game” and also hence him helping borden inthe final scene. at the end of the day its a film, an amazing film but a film, what is a hollywood blockbuster without a little magic. its about “the most commited wins” and how far men will go in search of what they feel is justice?!!? the film is amazing because both men can be hero or villain. by the by for my tuppance worth the machine works?!?! is too much to assume that nolan would explain and show how borden and fallon performed there transportation man trick and not show or pay referance in any way to angiers doing the same. this amazing film is like any picture, its sometimes helpfull to zoom in ; ) (to inquire further into the script) but if you zoom in too much you miss the point (all yyou can see is tiny coloured dots that from afar produce the image).all in all, taylor hats of to you from london on an amazing post, but i thinnkk the real inner here in Nikola Tesla whose geniuis and struggle is shown. i personally had never heard of him until this movie afterwhich i have made many inquiries into his genius.
    Wardenclyffe Tower and his vision for his “world wireless system” would have changed the world in unimaginable ways forever.nolan taylor thank you for a great movie, great evaluation, but the greatest honour goes to Nikola Tesla, may you rest in piece and your family be BLESSED

    Reply
  185. James

    I have only seen this film twice, with the two screenings years apart, but I will shortly be going back for a thorough examination of the earlobes of corpses, and with one distinct question in mind: are waxworks a requirement for a non-teleportation explanation of the film?

    For the record, I agree that if the Tesla machine does work as a duplication/teleportation device, that clearly undermines the success of the film as a narrative work. An SF explanation introduced in the final act leaves me cold. Citing the book is pointless as film makers are free to reinterpret books as they choose. Further, even if the Nolans did intend to tell an unambiguous story of a working teleportation device, that wouldn’t invalidate alternative theories. It is the work and not the motivations of artists that is important (to wit, poor Harrison swears blind Deckard isn’t a replicant… the poor man). That said, it’s evident that, as ever, the Nolans intended ambiguity, but I hope that in doing so that neither explanation is hamstrung by errors in the internal logic.

    To this end, as much as I find a working teleportation device distasteful, an unseen Angier twin or perfect double is far from satisfying. That too would be a case of Deus Ex Machina, and would equate to poor story telling. For me, the corpse in the tank had to be Root. An examination of earlobes may force me to conclude he has been cut to better resemble Angier, but that being the case, I have no trouble believing a reformed, newly motivated Root could pull off an impersonation of Angier to the point that he performs the whole transported man trick up to the point when he falls through the floor. I have no problem believeing that it is the real Angier that performs the Prestige at the back of the theater: not because he needs the adulation, but simply that it must eventually be this way to frame Borden, and to survive himself. To me, a post-surgery Root gets around these so-called show-stopping arguments of why Cutter didn’t recognize a fake Angier on the slab, or how the financier was taken in by the first demonstration of Angier’s Tesla version of the transported man trick.

    One thing I find satisfying, and adds credence to Mr. Holmes theory of the films as a magic trick, is the handful of commenters who are convinced they have seen things they have not, be it 100 cats, or 100 Angier clones in tanks. I would urge, as other haves, a forensic rewatching of the film taking special account of what is actually seen (and in what context) and what isn’t. There are no 100 cats, and no 100, or even 20, 10 or two Angier clone-corpses in tanks — not that we see the faces of, any way. I was bothered by the need for two corpses: one on the slab, one in the tank at the end, but a previous commenter satisfied me that corpses were/are routinely returned to friends and family.

    On a similar note is the extraordinarily mundane lengths magicians go to to create an illusions. Lengths which, if revealed to the audience, essentially ruin the trick. Think of the Derren Brown trick when, on camera, in one continuous take, he tosses ten heads (or was it tails) in a row. Later revealed are the tortuous hours he spent continuously filming random coin tosses in order to get the lucky sequence of ten. For this reason, I have no problem believing Angier created waxworks to put in his tank: I just need to rewatch one more time to see if it was necessary or advantageous for him to do so. I’d prefer a zero waxwork solution, but I’ll take them over a working teleportation device solution any day. I don’t understand the strong aversion to waxworks from other viewers.

    I also need to pay special attention to the flashback scene in which we see Angier shoot a newly produced clone. I have no trouble believing that anything contained in the diaries, and therefore in the narration, is a lie. I have more trouble accepting that which we’re shown on screen is also a lie, even if it is in flashback. My hope is that Angier’s voice over at this point will contain an obvious clue that we shouldn’t believe what we’re seeing. Without that, it’s not that I’ll suddenly be a teleportation theory convert — just that I find this brief flashback scene dissatisfactory.

    I wanted to close with a fun detail that I don’t think anyone has mentioned, on the subject of which knot was tied at the beginning of the film. When asked which knot was tied, the smarter/nicer/married-to-Sarah “Fallon” Borden answers to the effect: don’t you think I’ve asked myself that question? I think one interpretation of this is not introspection — that makes no sense if the other Borden tied the knot — but that he has literally quizzed his brother upon this point, perhaps receiving no satisfactory answer. By “myself” he really means his secret identical twin.

    I think the Prestige is a good film. That it’s prompting so much discussion and re-watching, probably a very good one. But until I can satisfy myself that a zero-working-teleportation explanation works without the addition of significant outside agency (Root fine, a new perfect Angier twin or double less so) I’ll hold back from thinking it a great one.

    Thanks for the discussion.

    Reply
  186. Taylor Holmes

    James, reading and responding as I go… if you loop back around to yourself, this is going to get interesting really quickly!

    Are waxworks a requirement for a non-teleportation explanation of the film?

    No, they definitely aren’t. But its the most plausible. Right? He could have had 5 twins? implausible. He could have found 5 look a likes. Even more implausible. They could be painted on the cases? heheh. Fake-tastic-ness in a box. My biggest thing is that that’s the cool thing about a cool magic trick. Take Copperfield for example. He never ever tells how he does his tricks. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t “TRICKS”. He hasn’t actually figured out how to saw a woman in half and put her back together. But alot of people that come to this blog say that’s how the movie works – Angiers figured out how to saw the woman in half and put her back together again. But that’s only because I can’t tell them exactly how he did it.

    An SF explanation introduced in the final act leaves me cold. Citing the book is pointless as film makers are free to reinterpret books as they choose.

    Couldn’t agree more. Very very cold indeed.

    to wit, poor Harrison swears blind Deckard isn’t a replicant… the poor man

    This comment is probably more brilliant than all the rest of the comments for this entire blog posting combined! hahah. Too funny. Seriously. Poor guy.

    To this end, as much as I find a working teleportation device distasteful, an unseen Angier twin or perfect double is far from satisfying. That too would be a case of Deus Ex Machina, and would equate to poor story telling. For me, the corpse in the tank had to be Root.

    I don’t disagree. Seems the most plausible explanation. Totally buy what you are selling her about a post-op Root, he could totally sell it. But it definitely has to be Angier under the stage. Has to be in order for him to survive to the end.

    One thing I find satisfying, and adds credence to Mr. Holmes theory

    Dude, I totally gotta stop you right there. It’s Taylor. Or hey you. But DEFINITELY not Mr. Holmes. That’s just all kindsa bad ju-ju right there. Where were, you, oh right… do continue.

    I was bothered by the need for two corpses: one on the slab, one in the tank at the end, but a previous commenter satisfied me that corpses were/are routinely returned to friends and family.

    Was that a comment here? Hehehe. I kinda duck and weave in and out of the conversation – its got a bit of its own inertia now… so I just let it flow – so maybe I missed that comment? Or if it was somewhere else can you point me?

    Think of the Derren Brown trick when, on camera, in one continuous take, he tosses ten heads (or was it tails) in a row. Later revealed are the tortuous hours he spent continuously filming random coin tosses in order to get the lucky sequence of ten.

    I’ve never heard of that particular trick, but it makes sense. Magicians do anything to make a trick work. Which, for me is the magic of the movie. Its like I just watched the statue of liberty walk away… huh. That is cool. How did he do that dangit? Camera shifts? Blue screen? There is a way… I’m not thinking the federal government would have allowed him to pick it up. Just saying. But I’ll be darned.

    I also need to pay special attention to the flashback scene in which we see Angier shoot a newly produced clone. I have no trouble believing that anything contained in the diaries, and therefore in the narration, is a lie. I have more trouble accepting that which we’re shown on screen is also a lie, even if it is in flashback. My hope is that Angier’s voice over at this point will contain an obvious clue that we shouldn’t believe what we’re seeing. Without that, it’s not that I’ll suddenly be a teleportation theory convert — just that I find this brief flashback scene dissatisfactory.

    James, yer losing me here buddy. Just the fact that Angier is telling the audience anything at all tells us it is coming directly from an unreliable source. Watch.

    So, I just finish cutting a woman in half – right? And I put her back together again. “James, the first time I did it, I practiced 42 times. Can you imagine this? 42 maimed and mortally wounded women? It was horrible. Blood everywhere! I had to come up with a system of pumps just to handle the blood splatter issue.” Right? I’m bolstering my own “Story” with more magic. The point of the movie is that if you really want to be a great magician you have to live out your magic trick. That was the moral of the story with the Chinese magician. Borden and Fallon lived this out every day. And finally, here we have Angier doing it as well.

    When asked which knot was tied, the smarter/nicer/married-to-Sarah “Fallon” Borden answers to the effect: don’t you think I’ve asked myself that question?

    Hehe, yes, I thought of that. Its a clever reading of the facts once they are all available to us. So by this we know that Borden is the one that tied the bad knot. (Or was it intentional?)

    As for whether or not its a great movie – I agree. I think the Nolans balanced the movie on a knife’s edge – but they hid the obvious meaning behind too many layers… at least for an American audience. When I occasionally peruse other Prestige boards the number of people who believe the movie includes cloning is upwards of about 90% of the people. Which means that their attempt at balancing it at the 50/50 split level got busted. Kinda like at the end of Inception… did the top fall? Or did it not? I think that is closer to the 50/50 split that Christopher was hoping for. So in that regard, I tend to agree. Memento was a better movie of theirs in that it made other explanations in reach, but the audience had to work at it.

    Thanks for taking the time to comment amigo. You are welcome here anytime! Well, as long as you promise not to call me Mr. Holmes again! hahah.

    Reply
  187. Rytter

    It makes sense that the machine does not work… That will explain why there is no clone produced when Angier shows the trick to Cutter and the investor in the old theater.

    One thing i do not understand is the scene where Angiers wife drowns in the tank.. Why even try smashing the very thick glass with an axe, when they could just have opened the top ??

    Reply
  188. Hodge

    Taylor, I must congratulate you on this blog – it’s a beast! I also must congratulate you on your Prestige theory. I myself watched the movie for the second time recently. The first time (which was some years ago) I took it at face value (and believed in the machine) – the second time around I was unsatisfied with some elements of the plot. This led me to a bit of digging, which in turn led me … here. I’ve read this entire thread (yes I know that’s ridiculous) and what I find so interesting is that the riddle hasn’t been solved, and there’s some pretty clever people on here (and some not so clever ones).

    Personally, I want to believe the machine didn’t work, as if it did the film is unsatisfying and illogical for two reasons. Firstly, the sic-fi solution of an otherwise realistic film, and secondly the fact that Borden sends Angier to Tesla supposedly on a wild goose chase, only for Angier to discover exactly what Borden is supposed to have made up to get rid of him?! That would be such a weak plot device as to be laughable, and not something I would expect from Nolan. And as you rightly point out, all the way through we are being encouraged (through narration and visual pointers) to watch closely, as if there is something deeper to discover. And we’re also repeatedly shown the real life solutions to various ‘magic’ tricks, so that at the end we’re supposed to believe in real magic? It can’t be!

    But then … there is at least one body to explain. Someone dies in the tank under the stage in front of Borden, that body is taken to the morgue where it is identified by Cutter, and it could be the same body that is back in the tank in the last shot of the movie. The body is undoubtedly Angier – Borden believes it to be so as he dies in front of him, and Cutter identifies him on the slab. It’s clearly not Root, or at least not Root as we have seen him earlier in the film. Many people have speculated about an ‘improved’ Root, a new more convincing double, or a twin. But for me there is very little you can point to that suggests any of these as a likely answer. So it’s puzzling …

    One thing I noticed when I watched the movie back is something which I think no one has pointed out here thus far. In the scene where we see Angier shoot his clone, the clone shouts something along the lines of “No, wait, I’m not …” before being shot dead. What’s interesting to me is that he shouts this in an American accent – we know that Angier is really Caldlow, and speaks in an English accent. There would be no reason to speak in his assumed accent in front of himself! It could mean several things, it could mean nothing, it could just be a mistake in the movie. I think you can argue that it’s more evidence that this scene is not real, did not actually take place – clearly if you believe the machine doesn’t work then you already think that this scene isn’t real, but it’s still interesting.

    Anyway, great discussion – I love all the stuff about the Borden twins, their different personalities etc. I hadn’t really picked up on that myself, but reading it here just makes me want to watch the movie again. Also, I’m not really sure why some people don’t like the fact that you can have several readings/explanations of the movie? Clearly Nolan loves weaving this stuff through his films, and it’s all part of the fun for the viewer to puzzle it out? Everyone’s entitled to their opinion, and can take away whatever they like from the film.

    Reply
  189. Taylor

    Mr. Hodge,
    Welcome. It’s always the second viewing that sends people off into the deep end. Heheh. Just out of curiosity, how long did it take you to read this whole page? Hopefully you didn’t read every word! Even some of my own comments are definitely worth skipping. Haha.

    I should go back to the top and read it from scratch just to see if I’m half way consistent. I know that in the inception blogs my opinions meander some. But this particular blog was cemented in my head years ago upon my first (completed) watching of the the film.

    Regardless, now you have me curious about the flash back scene and the American accent. Will have to watch that bit over again. Why would he affect his voice to himself when he was about to die? Doesn’t make sense. Never mind that it never happened! Haha. Regardless, thanks for reading and commenting. Always fun to have another fly land in my (inadvertent) Venus Flytrap!

    Take care,
    Taylor

    Reply
  190. mildnhazy

    Hodge – I think the answer to your problem is this: the machine didn’t work at the time that Borden sent Angier on the wild goose chase. Borden had done his research, as evidenced by him watching the tesla presentation……and I think he knew it didn’t work but was something plausible enough to get Angier out of his hair for a while. Tesla worked on the machine for a quite a while even after Angier commissioned him to build it and it still didn’t work…or at least they thought.

    Reply
  191. Hodge

    Mildnhazy – I understand what you’re saying, and perhaps it does make sense in that way. I guess for me it seems a weak part of the plot, but I suppose that’s more to do with the fact that I want to believe that the machine didn’t work more than I want to believe it did …

    Taylor – I probably did skim a few bits where it sounded like people were repeating stuff from earlier, but otherwise yes, top to bottom! It took days actually (not non-stop you understand) – I had the page saved on my phone and kept dipping back in when I had a few minutes to see if there was something definitive on here, something which would convince me the film is one way or another. But, alas no, I will continue to wonder about this movie …

    Reply
  192. mildnhazy

    Hodge – I posted the following note about a year ago that was never responded to by Taylor (probably ignoring it since it doesn’t fit with his theory – haha)….I really think it’s all you need to prove the machine worked…

    Taylor – if your theory is true – that the machine does not work – how do you explain the scene (which is not a flashback and hence, is not a fabrication for the benefit of fooling Borden) where Angier is speaking to the theatre manager to convince him to do 100 shows. Angier is speaking to him both before and after the trick – couldn’t possibly be a double.
    From my perspective, that’s the only scene you really need to prove the machine works (although there are plenty of other moments in the movie).

    Reply
    • Taylor Holmes

      Hey Mild,
      Sorry for not getting back to you originally. I don’t remember this post comment coming out when it did. I have 4 or 5 big blogs on this site that get quite a bit of traffic and sometimes if comments come all at once my brain just kinda drops into overload. I also do my best to try and stay engaged – but there are times when I just don’t. But I think this post has been around 3 or 4 years now and I’m still here. I think I’m doing ok. Sorry again for dropping your comment.

      Taylor – if your theory is true – that the machine does not work – how do you explain the scene (which is not a flashback and hence, is not a fabrication for the benefit of fooling Borden) where Angier is speaking to the theatre manager to convince him to do 100 shows. Angier is speaking to him both before and after the trick – couldn’t possibly be a double.

      Is it the voice that convinces you its Angier? What is it exactly that proves to you this is Angier before and Angier after? Let’s just assume its the voice. And you’re 100% certain. Let’s roll with that a moment. Are you saying the machine teleported the same man? Or it duped one and teleported the other onto the balcony? Is it now a teleportation machine with a nasty bi-product of also duplicating the individual as well? I’ve done a ton of reading of blogs that believe the machine works and the people on that side can never get that bit straight. So I’m curious your thoughts on that. If the machine works – what is it? A cloning machine or a teleportation machine?

      That is immaterial to me at the end of the day though because I believe that wasn’t Angier no matter how strong the evidence is. (Which is really frustrating to those of you out there trying to convince me otherwise! hahaha.) But I just keep coming back to the brilliance of a perfect magic trick. That is the fascinating bit, right? How the HECK did he do that. And it nags at you and nags at you. Maybe he? Or no, maybe he? That couldn’t be… what about? Right? So your response is, it can’t be Angier UNLESS you know how Nolan did it. Which is such an American/Hollywood assumption. And I don’t buy it.

      Think about Primer. Do we know how the heck that movie works? No. We don’t. But it has to somehow. And that is half the fun, trying to figure out how it might piece together lucidly. Almost any half decent independent movie worth its salt is ambiguous and unclear. I hear Shane Carruth’s new movie, which just debuted at Sundance, was completely ambiguous and still a huge hit there. Where you guys counter now is by saying – YES BUT, Nolan told us how it happened. And I say, no, he didn’t. Angier told you how it worked. And he’s lying to you.

      Hazy you have a great point here by saying this is not a narrated scene and it isn’t out of the diary. So I don’t disagree with you there. But neither is the actual magic trick – the performance itself. We see the killing of the doubles from Angier’s eyes. But the trick itself has to really occur. Borden sees it with his own two eyes and he has to know how its done. This is ultimately what gets him killed right? And why Fallon wants no part of it and walks away from the magic trick. He’s done living the lie. He’s done trying.

      MildnHazy try this on for size, coincidence lameness not withstanding: What if Caldlow is one brother and Angier is another? We now have our own twins on the Angier side. We have your “two Angiers” for the trick for the theater manager. Root could either be Caldlow in disguise or a THIRD coincidental look alike. Right? And then wax dummies in the tanks for your final scene. Do I like it, nah. But does it give you AN answer? Yes. It does. Then the only thing that happened in that scene is that Angier dropped through the stage, and Caldlow walked out onto the balcony. Right? (Which is exactly what I think happened regardless of the solution.) The detractors of this theory will say something similar to what Mr. Hodge has just said about the coincidence of sending Angier off to Tesla on a wild goose chase and then having it turn out to be a legit thing all of a sudden. Right? Way way too coincidental. BUT, both of them being twins is WAY less coincidental than having Tesla really have a cloning machine. Especially since Nolan gives us hints that Angier has a duplicate identity already in Lord Caldlow. We have this foreshadowed in his conversation with his wife. And we learn it was already real later. But we aren’t told if this is two people or not.

      Am I on a limb? A bit. But I don’t think that limb is really all that big. The solution is in this space. And the simpler the solution the better it is. And a double Angier – a twin – is the simplest solution to that scene. Thoughts? (I wish I knew how to write more succinctly! hahah. This response ran on and on. Sorry about that. As an aside. I’ve started adding video clips at the front of my blogs. Distraction? Annoyance? Value add? I’m watch the visitor data, to see what it does as a simple test. But if you have an opinion I’d like to know your thoughts.

      Reply
  193. Rytter

    Taylor – if your theory is true – that the machine does not work – how do you explain the scene (which is not a flashback and hence, is not a fabrication for the benefit of fooling Borden) where Angier is speaking to the theatre manager to convince him to do 100 shows. Angier is speaking to him both before and after the trick – couldn’t possibly be a double.

    As i wrote earlier… This is the scene that does the explaining for me… This scene proves that the machine does not work, because it does not produce a double ! !!
    I think you are absolutely right… it is not a double… it is Angier performing his perfect trick.

    Reply
  194. Taylor

    Rytter,
    Dude. I’m so corn-fused. Did you read my last post?

    If the machine didn’t work, it can’t have been Angier both times. I am not understanding the point you are making. Help me understand.

    Taylor

    Reply
  195. Rytter

    I am talking about the scene in the old theater, where the trick is shown to Cutter and Ackerman. In this scene, the machine does not produce a double… Therefore it must have been a trick instead of a working machine !!
    Magic tricks are ment to do exactly what it does in this scene – surprise and amaze people… Otherwise its not magic !!

    Reply
  196. Hodge

    Ok, admittedly if you’re trying to prove the ‘machine didn’t work’ theory (as I would love someone to do) then as well as the dead body I mentioned in my first post, the scene with Ackerman, Cutter and Angier in the rehearsal theatre is tricky to explain … The trick in this scene could have been performed with a double/twin – Angier only says “Pleased to meet you Mr Ackerman” at a distance of fifteen feet or so, before hobbling off down the ramp and saying “Turn it on gentleman”, which if he had a convincing enough double/twin would not be hard for Ackerman to be taken in by. Then Angier “appears” behind Cutter and Ackerman on the balcony, but you don’t see him materialise out of thin air, there would be lots of places he could be hiding up until that point. So I do’t feel that what you see in this scene is undeniable proof for the machine working.

    Taylor, you make an interesting point about the possibility of Caldlow being Angier’s twin brother. I have speculated about this also (not here, just in my mind …) but there is very little to actually suggest it, other than the obvious need for Angier to have a twin/double to perform the trick and support the theory. With Borden’s twin, even if it wasn’t explicitly revealed as such in the final scene, there is plenty of evidence throughout the film for this being the case. With Angier/Caldlow there (sadly) is not.

    Reply
  197. kevin mason

    its kind of incredible, that this is a 3 year discussion, but a lot of it is fun, for sure, its good to see theories thrown back and forth but Taylor you nailed it at the beginning. Full disclaimer from me I just watched the movie, for the first time, an hour ago so Im sure I’ll get slammed for being a good 14 viewings down yet having a theory… but…. here goes…

    The Tesla machine doesn’t work, and understanding how is surely the key to the movie. The idea of the machine working would be an absurd sci-fi plot device in complete contradiction to everything else we see in the film just casually tossed in by a Director like Nolan- not a chance. Thats a Bobby Ewing shower scene moment. Just not going to happen (in my opinon- but its blog and thats where opinions are meant to go right).

    lets me have two threads here for a second though

    1- if the machine worked, and the scope of the magicians Angier mind is so vast, he would really pull off the greatest trick of all time- not a small stage left to stage right. We are talking about a working cloning machine that makes living sentient beings-or cats and hats- come on now he’d make an army, or a marching band, or at the very least people he could actually saw in half on stage each night and not get busted for murder, he wants to be the greatest magician of all time, yet (if the machine worked-which it doesnt) he can’t come up a better use for it than a trapdoor trick?

    I admit its a struggle, when the film ends, to know what to do with the Tesla machine, but to believe in it, is to think that Nolan just lost his mind for a bit, and decided to hinge his entire story on an inexplicable fantasy.

    2- Lets just go with something radical for a minute, and just assume the Tesla machine is just a light show, albeit an impressive one, and one that has a place in the legacy of stage magic. Nolan roots his entire film in stagecraft, mechanics and plausible constructions. So lets assume that cloning, via electricity alone is entirely impossible…. now or in the given period of the time.

    using his non-linear narrative Nolan shows how the machine doesn’t work, but he also shows how Angier, so consumed with emotion, and losing his ability to apply logic to work out a simple trick, is persuaded by an almost comic device of a black cat and a bunch of hats. Angier is lost, and wants to believe, and Tesla (a renowned showman) gives him exactly what he wants to see. Twice in the movie, we see him seduced by ‘magic’- the first time being Borden’s door trick.

    This humbling (when he realises the machine is a sham and that a non-magician Tesla has bettered him) and also importantly that he has been set-up for this humiliation, allows him to see that clouded by emotion we lose sight of the rational and take a leap of faith.

    Later, he uses this knowledge to seduce Borden and Cutter in believing the trick they see before them, that the drowning man is Angier. Its the same cat/hat trick again, but with the emotional investment cranked way up for both of them. Its not that they want to save Angier per se, its the fact that he confronts them again with a drowning person, right in the moment, a trigger so strong (due to the death of Angiers wife that they witnessed/felt responsible for) that they’ll see what they want to see. When I say ‘want’, I dont mean they desire his death, but that just the slightest hint of character would make them believe its Angier. Because he is drowning, in front of them, and its the second time they’ve been witness to such a horrific event. So yes they believe its Angier. The clone element doesn’t make sense, because it doesn’t need to.

    An outsider, with no emotional investment in the character might see differences in height, expression, but I’d hazard a guess that up close when you are trying to save a drowning man you’d not even notice. Angier exploits this, as he too has learnt the horror of his wife dying in front of him, and how his desire to believe, ie Tesla/Cat/Hat made him prey to a less than objective opinion.

    Maybe its been mentioned above and I missed it, but isnt Nolan also signposting the sham in Tesla (or his machine at this point) by using David Bowie, a showman, a master of reinvention who adopted and famously killed off personas live on stage. Ziggy Stardust wasn’t real, Aladdin Sane wasn’t a clone, it was a projection of the ego, Bowie even talks about ‘I felt somewhat like a Dr. Frankenstein’ (when having to kill Ziggy). Clones, god they are everywhere, buts its theme not a fact.

    Magicians were the rock-stars of that era, Angier believing in Tesla’s invention is like Marc Bolan genuinely believing that Ziggy Stardust was actually from Mars, and not just David Bowie (born David Jones) in lot of make up. Its about role playing, assuming identities. A Bowie audience want to believe he’s from Mars, this alien man, with his crazy life, not that he’s David Jones from Brixton. The suspension of disbelief helps us adore the act, its crucial to our enjoyment- apart from the performer for whom getting consumed by the role is a very real danger, when the lines between act and real life get too blurred.

    The film I feel is about being consumed by ego, alter ego and reinvention and ultimately it costs almost everyone in the film, through personal loss. Lovers die, families break up, brothers hack off body parts and commit murder, all for the battle of the stage, and the ego that lives on it. Its not, I feel, about a cloning machine that actually works and comes from completely out of nowhere in the plot, which is rooted in the very real.

    I really urge anyone to go back to Taylors first posts, (the guy has the patience of a saint by the way-even though the traffic must be good, 3 years is a long time to not just start yelling “im right, its all in the movie” in caps….)

    I hope some of this appears to make some sense.

    Reply
  198. Taylor Holmes

    Hey Kevin,
    Just so you know, you spell like half of the words wrong… and you add all kinds of funny vowels everywhere. Are you aware of this problem? You definitely should look into this. Hahah. I’m guessing you are from England? Can you talk to the Queen about this? I absolutely love England. Love it, love it. Can we come up with some excuse to get me back there? London desperately needs someone to bloviate authoritatively about old movies that don’t catch the public’s attention anymore… right? Brilliant! (Sorry, couldn’t resist. You should give me credit for not inserting a Monty Python quote here, right?) Ok, to your great post.

    The Tesla machine doesn’t work, and understanding how is surely the key to the movie.

    I personally agree. But that was the point of the post. I know that you first watched this recently – so you may not know this. But MOST (read 95% – maybe 99%) people believe the machine works. I mean, why wouldn’t they? That is what the movie “tells” them. Right? So most people running across this comment of yours would say – WHAT? You are smoking crack man! But, I love it. But I would. hahah.

    The idea of the machine working would be an absurd sci-fi plot device in complete contradiction to everything else we see in the film just casually tossed in by a Director like Nolan- not a chance. Thats a Bobby Ewing shower scene moment. Just not going to happen (in my opinon- but its blog and thats where opinions are meant to go right).

    I don’t want to admit this – but my argument begins and ends right there. Everything else is just supporting this argument you just made. He wouldn’t have done it because it didn’t logically follow. It just so happens that there are some clever nuances that I was able to decipher wherein we realized that the narrators weren’t reliable. Right? Which then unravels the “truth” of the magic trick and forces us to rethink it all from beginning to end.

    We are talking about a working cloning machine that makes living sentient beings-or cats and hats- come on now he’d make an army, or a marching band, or at the very least people he could actually saw in half on stage each night and not get busted for murder, he wants to be the greatest magician of all time, yet (if the machine worked-which it doesnt) he can’t come up a better use for it than a trapdoor trick?

    No one has mentioned this. Not even hinted at it. Its a great theoretical exercise. If the machine works, he’s doing magic WHY EXACTLY? Seriously. It doesn’t logically follow. The movie becomes Primer instead of the Prestige. (Speaking of which, Kevin – have you seen Primer? Sorry! Different thread!) Others have mentioned, why didn’t he just clone money? Or gold? But no one has mentioned creating a marching band! hahaha.

    Let’s just go with something radical for a minute and just assume the Tesla machine is just a light machine… Angier is lost, and wants to believe, and Tesla (a renowned showman) gives him exactly what he wants to see.  Twice in the movie, we see him seduced by ‘magic’- the first time being Borden’s door trick. This humbling (when he realises the machine is a sham and that a non-magician Tesla has bettered him) and also importantly that he has been set-up for this humiliation, allows him to see that clouded by emotion we lose sight of the rational and take a leap of faith.

    An outsider, with no emotional investment in the character might see differences in height, expression, but I’d hazard a guess that up close when you are trying to save a drowning man you’d not even notice. Angier exploits this, as he too has learnt the horror of his wife dying in front of him, and how his desire to believe, ie Tesla/Cat/Hat made him prey to a less than objective opinion.

    Where most comments center is around THEIR ability to see that the earlobes weren’t connected. And his front teeth had no gap. Right? Most comments here don’t talk at all about the character’s ability to differentiate. Yes? Just the viewers ability to hit pause on the movie and notice the differences or the similarities. But I do like your thinking in this space. That they would be traumatized by the duplication of the drowning. Not just Angier’s wife, but Angier as well!!? Wha? No way! They would be crushed, right? The fact that the movie initially shows them out of order makes it a little confusing. But yes, it would be deeply profound to them as humans experiencing this.

    Maybe its been mentioned above and I missed it, but isnt Nolan also signposting the sham in Tesla (or his machine at this point) by using David Bowie, a showman, a master of reinvention who adopted and famously killed off personas live on stage.

    No. Definitely not. This was the first time this has been proposed. It definitely is interesting. I will cry foul a bit in that it is extra-Prestige material that you are calling on here. Though I love it. But yes, from a Nolan standpoint, his simple usage and selection of David Bowie highlights all of these things. But yeah, its a gorgeous thought. I love it. And its important. But immaterial to the evidence intrinsic to the movie itself, if you know what I mean.

    The film I feel is about being consumed by ego, alter ego and reinvention and ultimately it costs almost everyone in the film, through personal loss. Lovers die, families break up, brothers hack off body parts and commit murder, all for the battle of the stage, and the ego that lives on it. Its not, I feel, about a cloning machine that actually works and comes from completely out of nowhere in the plot, which is rooted in the very real.

    This paragraph is similar to saying that a movie (primer) isn’t about time travel but rather that is about two friends and their friendship failing in the face of unlimited power. This is just like that – its about a conflict taken to the complete illogical extreme and watching the relationship explode. Ego and pride over all other things. Totally agree.

    I really urge anyone to go back to Taylors first posts, (the guy has the patience of a saint by the  way-even though the traffic must be good, 3 years is a long time to not just start yelling “im right, its all in the movie” in caps….)

    This made me laugh out loud. Very very funny. It just means I’m completely and entirely insane. Beginning and end.

    Reply
  199. dacrum

    I’m kinda bummed I didn’t get the personal response some of you are getting. 🙂

    But I’m still loving this thread, and still intrigued by this movie. As convinced as I am that the cloning machine is just a trick, proving it within the movie is difficult at best. How exactly did Angier pull off his bait-and-switch? And as a result, how did Nolan?

    Figuring it out is like trying to figure out how any magician does any of his tricks without inside knowledge.

    How does David Blaine do his parlor tricks? Or Criss Angel his levitation? Well, I think I know the answer to that last one…

    Reply
  200. Taylor

    Hey Dack…
    My bad. Did I fix the errors in the timeline that you pointed out? I may have read your comment and went right to work fixing it. You have to admit, that though I short shifted you I have got to be the longest running commenting author of post in blogging history. But I am sorry for missing you originally. I did like this comment of yours (even in spite of the all caps-ness of it! Haha)

    ~related to the former, but yes, Borden was seen looking at Tesla’s demonstration, and later is using a Tesla machine between the two doors during the Teleported Man trick as a distraction . CLUE! ANGIER LATER DOES THE EXACT SAME THING, BUT INSISTS THE MACHINE ACTUALLY WORKS!

    This is a really good point. When showing off the sparks at the museum exhibit would they have cloned someone if the sparks had hit or of them? And during the show? Do we have a Borden Twins clone(s) after their theatrical spark show? It was a great observation. Very important really. So what say you to those of you from the camp of the machine works? Why didn’t the machine clone Borden?

    Reply
  201. dacrum

    *My bad. Did I fix the errors in the timeline that you pointed out? I may have read your comment and went right to work fixing it. *

    No, it looks like it still says Fallon instead of Angier.

    *You have to admit, that though I short shifted you I have got to be the longest running commenting author of post in blogging history. But I am sorry for missing you originally.*

    Oh, absolutely. I didn’t mean to shame you.

    *I did like this comment of yours (even in spite of the all caps-ness of it! Haha)*

    Ha, yeah, I did that for emphasis since I wasn’t sure how to do italics or bold. Sorry about that.

    *This is a really good point. When showing off the sparks at the museum exhibit would they have cloned someone if the sparks had hit or of them? And during the show? Do we have a Borden Twins clone(s) after their theatrical spark show? It was a great observation. Very important really. So what say you to those of you from the camp of the machine works? Why didn’t the machine clone Borden?*

    Playing devil’s advocate, I think they’d say that the machine didn’t work yet. Tesla didn’t “figure it out” until later. I put that in quotes because I don’t think he ever figured it out, he just figured out how to dupe Angier, who in turn figured out how to dupe the world and Borden in particular.

    Reply
  202. Taylor

    Bah. I’ll look at them tomorrow when I have a full set o’ steam and see if I can’t get it squared away once and for all. Sorry for the three year delay. And as for as far as the “shaming” goes… Guilt is healthy and leads to reactive change. Shame on the other hand leads to wallowing and self ridicule. No shame here amigo… Maybe a bit of guilt! But no shame. Hahah.

    I think it’s time for another Prestige post…? This time one specifically about the machine. Not that that isn’t exactly what we’ve been talking about exclusively. But I think it could be more clear.

    Entitled “the prestige and why the machine does not work”… See? Brilliance. I feel liberated already. So I think some of you guys who have written more than me on this page (and there are many!) should help me cull this page for all the evidence to sum up there. Who am I kidding. You will laugh at my doing it and then you laugh at my poor attempt after its all said and done. Never mind! Hahah. But I’m serious about the post… Just you see.

    Reply
  203. Hodge

    Kevin – love your post, I actually think you’ve put it better than most, your reasoning is compelling. The stuff about Bowie (although it’s additional to the actual theory) is interesting – it made me remember that I’d seen an interview with Nolan on the dvd in which he said that Bowie was the only person he wanted for the role, that Bowie initially wasn’t interested and had to be convinced by Nolan – could this be for the reasons you put forth? Very possibly.

    People have brought up the whole ‘if the machine worked why wouldn’t Angier do something else with it’ point many times. I guess the answer to that is that the only thing that matters to him is besting Borden, and coming up with a better magic trick is the only way to do that. In the scene with Ackerman in the rehearsal theatre, he tells Angier “you’ll have to dress it up a bit, give them reason to doubt it”, suggesting that doubt on the part of the audience is key to any trick – i.e. if he had materialised right in front of them or cloned a whole marching band (!) then the ‘magic’ would be beyond doubt (as would the explanation to the movie).

    Taylor – not sure what would be the point of the new discussion would be? You know it would just turn into the same back and forward debate, so could be a lot of copying/pasting for nothing!

    Reply
  204. kevin mason

    Taylor- Yep Im English, I wrote this with a quill, and the Town Crier yelled it from the castle towers, so Im perplexed as to how it made it here, online.

    If it didn’t come across above, I’m really thankful for your post. I spent 5 mins after the movie finished “WTF’ing” to myself about such a shitty get-out (the machine) then 5 mins cursing myself for being stupid as Nolan just isnt that kind of Director. Then I found this blog, and realised you’d cracked it. So complete kudos to you, if i hadnt found it, i’d still be either dumbfounded or left with the idea that Nolan had made a film that sucked… thanks pal.

    My point about ego, is really only to support your argument, and hopefully help others to see that your theory is a great reading- if the machine works, then the film isnt about anything, it has no theme. Its just pretty onscreen fluff. If the machine is a sham then et voila the movie is about something of substance. You had me convinced and enabled me to see the beauty in it.

    This is still about the evidence of the film, but granted its off at a little tangent, but its fun so indulge me… the comments about earlobes are great, but i urge everyone, not to get hung up on this. Its still (in my mind) the trick. The magician is about delivery, and the medium you use.

    Stagecraft falls apart if you watch from the wings, or beneath the stage, and over and over again Nolan shows us this.

    Nolan, by default is the magician in this act, the film crew and actors his props and stagehands. Nolans medium is film, if we assume he is trying to trick us, or create an illusion, (Taylors belief i think, and now mine too) he can bend any law to his own choosing. If we watch Christian Bale, and think its one man, then slowly (or suddenly at the end) we think ‘ah no he played both brothers’ thats a trick revealed through the medium of cinema- as we all know there is only really one Christian Bale.
    Cinema, is sleight of hand and deceit and the audience want to believe it.

    what do i mean by this, well Nolan knows that how you’ll see film has changed, cinema delivery is different to now. No-one any longer believes that the steam train will crush them. We can pause DVD’s, screengrab, post to forums and argue about make-up prothesis, but Nolan knows this and uses every trick he has to convince you of his magic act. He can bend every rule, he can break every rule, unreliable narrators, flashbacks that aren’t true, one man playing two brothers etc. If you are staring at the freezeframe make-up of an actor in a tank, then you are still, as an audience watching the rubber ball and missing the fact that a metaphorical trapdoor just opened.

    My question to anyone, how do you feel to the idea that Angier commited suicide (in the tank) and left Root to live in as the Lord, leaving Borden as the lesser respected (in the eyes of the public) magicians and to hang for his murder, an act he didnt commit. The ultimate revenge for Angier. He’s learned to let Root take the applause for his stage act switch every night, as he knows that he will get the ultimate victory. Root doesn’t know the twin brother twist, hence his surprise and he too is shot. It explains the locked tank, Cutter viewing the morgue body, Borden comments in jail about digging Angier up. Its what you’d do if you really wanted to mess with someone who killed your wife, commit suicide and let them swing for it…

    cat meet pigeons… haha

    Reply
  205. Hodge

    Kevin – I feel like it has to be ‘the’ Angier left alive as Caldlow for the final scene. If it was Root, I can’t imagine why he would continue the charade, right up until death? Obviously he wasn’t planning to get shot. Would he really babble on about having the better trick in his final moments, when it was the ‘real’ Angier who was obsessed with beating Borden, not Root.

    Reply
    • Taylor Holmes

      Dacrum –
      I updated the list – I think its fixed now. Let me know if I missed anything else. Thanks for the heads up. That was definitely wrong!

      Mr. Mason –
      Town crier! Haha. Too funny. There actually is a TCP/IP pigeon protocol out there that you Brits could use to increase your bandwidth and extend your range a bit if the “town crier” thing ever fails you. Just saying.

      Glad my own pain and the solution for said pain helped you as well. Always good to hear! hahah. But I HAD to figure it out for myself even if not for anyone else. But yeah, Nolan couldn’t have boneheaded it THAT badly. Just wouldn’t happen.

      Nolan, by default is the magician in this act, the film crew and actors his props and stagehands. Nolans medium is film, if we assume he is trying to trick us, or create an illusion, (Taylors belief i think, and now mine too) he can bend any law to his own choosing.

      100% agree. This movie isn’t really about Borden and Angier. Its about Nolan and the viewer. As was Inception… that was a similar type connection as well. But that’s a different blog post of mine (and discussed thoroughly there as well! Here’s an interesting post to that ind.) and already beaten to a bloody pulp. But yes, Nolan is the King Moofasa and he pwned 99% of his audience into believing he was a dark artist, when in fact he is actually a brilliant magician that has everything intentionally under his control.

      Kevin – I feel like it has to be ‘the’ Angier left alive as Caldlow for the final scene. If it was Root, I can’t imagine why he would continue the charade, right up until death? Obviously he wasn’t planning to get shot. Would he really babble on about having the better trick in his final moments, when it was the ‘real’ Angier who was obsessed with beating Borden, not Root.

      Alright, now to Hodge’s response to your question Kevin –
      Which Angier survived? Great question!

      I first have a question for you both. Does it have to be Angier/Root or would it be Caldlow/Angier/Root? Looking at it from THAT angle (that Caldlow is Angier’s twin) then you have different options to play with, right? Root is just a bumbling drunk actor that they found that happened to look like them (Angier & Caldlow). So Angier could have committed suicide and put Root in charge… OR he could have committed suicide because Lord Caldlow was the puppet master all along. He was the one pulling the strings and out to beat Borden. If that is the case then Caldlow definitely won. Right?

      I’ll slow down. From the perspective of “WINNING” (which could be argued was actually LOSING… but that is a different conversation all together) Borden would do anything to win – and died trying to win. Fallon on the other hand didn’t care – he quit. (The fact that he learned the lesson of what happens when we sell out to win is off topic entirely right now.)

      On the other hand, if Angier was measured against the goal of “winning” he and Caldlow did absolutely everything they had to, including dying and more, in order to win. Right? Caldlow (if he even exists) pushed all in and ground Borden to a pulp, gave up his twin, and stood victorious at the end of the movie. Root could fit in here somewhere too… as in he could be dead as well… but I’ve already gone to far as it is.

      But from a moral standpoint… a lesson standpoint… Fallon is the real winner. And he was seen as arguing AGAINST going under the stage – that he didn’t want anything to do with whatever it was that Angier was doing… right? He wanted to just let it go, right? So from a moral/learned his lesson standpoint Fallon wins. He walked away, which is what Borden should have done forever ago.

      Right? Maybe I’ve gone too far now? hahaha. NEVER! You can NEVER go too far!

      Reply
  206. Robert Angier

    Hey Holmes, I like you style, dude. In brief, I see Caldlow and Root as twin brothers, Root being the latter born and thus the poor second son. Brother Robert inherited the family fortune and Root got nothing, leaving him bitter. They both were drawn to the stage, both as actors, actually.

    When Caldlow/Angier finally agreed to allow Cutter to find a double for the act, Angier simply had Root show up in exactly the type of place they wou

    The truth of the Angier/Root relationship is the same as the Borden/Fallon trick: One of them is in disguise, and they can never share their secret with others. Angier ultimately makes the greater sacrifice, as he willingly kills his own brother to become the greater magician, but of course, that very sacrifice is his undoing, and he loses everything. So Angier sacrificed three lives: Root, Fallon, and then his own, not to mention that he lost his soul in the process. He paid one hell of a price for success, but then, don’t they all, those who would live by magic?ld be looking for a double. Root wore makeup to disguise the fact that he was Angier’s twin, just like Fallon/Borden. When Root drowned, he was not wearing makeup, so Cutter could not tell the difference, and he never suspected a twin brother of Angier.

    Reply
  207. Robert Angier

    Hey Holmes, I like you style, dude. In brief, I see Caldlow and Root as twin brothers, Root being the latter born and thus the poor second son. Brother Robert inherited the family fortune and Root got nothing, leaving him bitter. They both were drawn to the stage, both as actors, actually.

    When Caldlow/Angier finally agreed to allow Cutter to find a double for the act, Angier simply had Root show up in exactly the type of place they would be looking for him. Root wore makeup to disguise the fact that they were twins. When he drowned he was not wearing makeup, so Cutter couldn’t tell the difference, and he never suspected that Angier had a twin.

    The truth of the Angier/Root relationship is the same as the Borden/Fallon trick: One of them is in disguise, and they can never share their secret with others. Angier ultimately makes the greater sacrifice, as he willingly kills his own brother to become the greater magician, but of course, that very sacrifice is his undoing, and he loses everything. So Angier sacrificed three lives: Root, Fallon, and then his own, not to mention that he lost his soul in the process. He paid one hell of a price for success, but then, don’t they all, those who would live by magic?

    (Previous post got mangled.)

    Reply
  208. Fredrik

    So I gess anyone believing this theory simply hasn’t read the FANTASY novel by Christopher Priest, in which the WORKING Tesla machine is the key element of 4 diaries?

    Reply
  209. Peter

    I just saw this for the first time and have read several of the theories. I’m not sure exactly where I stand, but as I like mental puzzles and thus I will add in my own $0.02. Since I haven’t read all the comments here, please forgive me if I present an already-presented theory.

    I like the idea that the machine never worked…but let’s take it one step further. Since we know the diary Angier wrote was a con, then we cannot believe anything in it. And that includes nearly everything mentioned in the film about Tesla.

    Consider this potential timeline:

    1. Angier & Borden both see the Tesla symposium, but Tesla doesn’t come out and address anyone there–the symposium is cancelled and Tesla doesn’t show up. This does, however, put the idea of what Tesla could possibly do into both of their minds.

    2. Borden tries to trick Angier into thinking Tesla was behind his [Borden’s] trick. That’s why he used the fake diary encoded with Tesla’s name. But we know Tesla had nothing to do with that trick, since it was Borden’s twin brother. Tesla is a red herring.

    3. If Angier goes to America and tries to meet Tesla, he is rebuffed by Tesla’s assistant. That part of the diary would be true. However, it’s possible that he never went to America but instead spent his time cracking the code first. The only “proof” he went to America was in the diary, which is a known fraud.

    4. Either way, Angier discovers he’s been fooled by Borden and either returns to England or, having never left, simply begins his plot. In both versions, he has INVENTED EVERYTHING about Tesla’s experiments and the machine.

    6. As he writes the fake diary, he creates the fake machine. He patterns it after what he saw at the symposium earlier, and sets his trap for Borden.

    As I said, I’m not positive where I stand on this movie. Part of me wants the machine to have worked. But if the machine was a fraud, I think that everything about Tesla in the entire film is also a fraud. He never built anything for either magician. In other words, Tesla is complete misdirection–smoke and mirrors.

    Reply
  210. Robert Angier

    Yes Peter, the entire Tesla reference is fake. One of the clues is the introduction of the Tesla character, when he walks through the field of arcing electricity. That scene was based on the famous photo of Tesla sitting in such an electrical field, yet most viewers won’t know that the photo was a fake. It was created by employing the double exposure technique.

    Nolan left other clues throughout the film indicating that the machine was just a prop. Tesla’s presence in the film has other meanings as well, any good conspiracy theorist could suss them out.

    Reply
  211. Michael

    After seeing the movie yesterday and reading this blog post I’m convinced that the machine didn’t work and want to add something that really sold me on that.

    MEMENTO *SPOILERS*

    In the Memento commentary Christoper Nolan talks about how much of a liar Teddy is and has been throughout the movie, then says “What’s interesting to me in terms of genre is that this scene of exposition occurs in so many other movies. It is a fairly standard device that the bad guy comes along at the end of the movie and gives us the exposition, and to me it’s amazing that people don’t question that character. They just accept the answers because they’re so desperate for answers in the story.”

    MEMENTO *SPOILERS*

    So like a magic trick people like to think they have an idea of how it’s done and that they’ve caught on, but if the the machine actually working was true it wasn’t exactly some big secret since once you see the tanks being moved the possibility of Angier killing his clones every night came into my mind. Clearly the audience (and Borden) are encouraged to believe that something strange is going on.

    So at the end Angier tells Borden his lies and it convinces a lot of people, especially ones I’ve seen online . I’ve seen people talk about the theory that the machine didn’t work as “stupid” while believing that magic happened and discussing things like how Angier was getting rid of all his clones or how did his memory work from clone to clone.

    Of course why would you want to look for the real answers when you like the ones you got much better?

    Reply
  212. Taylor

    Michael,
    And just like that at the 238th comment you drop a thermo nuclear device on the discussion. You really need to post this same comment over on my Memento post… You’d shed light there too! And The Prestige as well while you are at it. Get the Nolan trifecta with just one comment! Brilliantly done.

    I have to go find that Nolan quote. Is it on the blu-ray for memento maybe? I’ve never seen that quote. Great job.

    Taylor

    Reply
  213. Franco

    Now it was a while ago, need to rewatch this one (again).
    Not alot of “twist” movies, which after the 5th viewing still isn’t cut clear.

    Anyway, one thing that I seem to remember, is that early on Cutter tells Angier a story about drowning, and how it is like “going home” (to comfort Angier to his wifes drowning). But in the end, doesn’t Cutter reveal that that was actually a lie, that drowning is a horrible expereience. And to that, there is a reaction from Angier like he just realizes that what he’s done to the clones every night is horrific?
    If the machine didn’t work, and it was all wax dolls or whatever, why even mention it?

    Reply
  214. FG22

    I’ve never been so certain on a theory before either – CLEARLY the machine doesn’t work. I think a big part of whether someone who watches it would buy into this theory it or not actually depends on where your head was at before you watched it. If you go into the movie knowing a little bit about Tesla’s place in history, that he was a real person, a great inventor, who had a version of electricity that was in many ways superior to Edison’s, and could happen wirelessly, it’s just not the standard today because Edison ‘won the fight’ (I heard apparently these days WI-FI’s based on that technology) So while that stuff’s might be little known and gee I can’t even remember how I came across it’s definitely fact and not fiction. If you go into that movie with that bare minimum of knowledge, EVERYTHING in the movie is real-world plausible until we actually see footage of Hugh Jackman shooting his clone as he talks to Borden. EVERYTHING. When you see Tesla showing Jackman the lightbulbs that would light up without wires you think “Ah yes, that’s the sort of amazing even-to-this-day stuff that I read about that Tesla was apparently doing at the turn of the 20th century, it was just never able to take off because Edison got the better of him!” 100% science, not science fiction at all. And so if you’re in that mindset, as soon as you see lots of hats and a couple of hats they’re simply… lots of hats and cats. If you go to a department store and see heaps of shirts on a rack you don’t automatically think they’re “clones” of each other. So when you see all the hats you can see the movie’s hinting at teleportation/cloning but you’re still gonna jump to the thought of “Ahhh haha, Tesla and Gollum are simply conning him!”

    But if that wireless electricity stuff has been making you think Tesla’s some sort of wizard then when you see all the hats you’ll probably think.. “Wow he’s finally got his next extraordinary magical machine to work!” The seeds have already been planted in your mind that this is a sci-fi / magic (‘real’ magic) movie. And so when it gets INSANELY sci-fi at the end you’ll probably easily go along with it.

    But what about the people who watched it who by general knowledge knew that the stuff Tesla was doing out there was amazing yes, but grounded in science. If everything right until the end is plausible real-world 19th century England stuff to you, and all of a sudden at the end one of the main characters describes to the other how a full body CLONE/REPLICA of himself REALLY DID IN ACTUAL FACT get spat out of the machine he brought home, then that’s an absolute MASSIVE and jarring “what? You can’t be serious?” How many science fiction movies have you seen where it only becomes science fiction in the end, shattering any concept of reality that had been built up in the last hour and a half. I can’t think of any.

    So you take that completely jarring reaction and add that..

    The main characters have of course have been lying to each other throughout the movie through their diaries etc (even us as the audience have already been tricked in a way.. the bit with Borden’s diary where we thought Scarlett Johansson was still working for the other side if I remember correctly)
    AND this is happening in the context of a movie that’s all about illusion and making things that are simply ordinary appear to be extraordinary to fool other people into amazement (Hugh even mentions this in that very last scene)
    AND in the context of being smacked over the head so many times by the movie asking us to ‘watch closely’ and read between the lines as if all may not be as it seems with the movie
    AND, I mean, after watching it you think it’s a Christopher Nolan movie even! Famous for unreliable narrators etc!
    The theory that the machine didn’t work simply seems the more plausible one because of all that. And again, as mentioned, sci-fi that jumps out only right at the end.. there’s just something completely off about that… it’s a massive signal/red flag. I mean, I see that some people are saying it makes it even BETTER when the 100% sci fi comes on, but can’t you see where Taylor’s coming from? Yeah, an alien movie might be cool… but if you got 5/6’s of the way through Goodfellas and then found out Joe Pesci was actually an alien you wouldn’t go “Ahh.. this movie’s even more awesome now cos there’s ALIENS in it too!”

    Anyway, great movie

    Reply
  215. EQ3

    I read a lot of the comments and believe I have another explanation. Algiers double, Roux, is discovered by Borden early on and Borden implants a seed thought so that he takes over Algiers role. Ultimately Tesla is the true illusionist that the machine doesn’t work and he says so but Algiers wants to believe otherwise, then planting the discovery of the hats and allowing Algiers to come to his own conclusion. As Algiers could never find a way to put Roux in the box, it was Algiers who died at the hand of Roux in the end. The Michael Caine character confirmed this in the coroners office with a nod that it was indeed Algiers and not Roux lying on the table. Falon, discovered Algiers drowning and tried to get him out. Thus Falon went to jail. The girl never really warmed up to the one in jail but rather the one she was with. At the end, Falon is hanged, Borden shoots Roux, believing him to be Algiers, and since he did not read the notebook (the distraction) his mind did not lead him to believe anything otherwise.

    Reply
  216. GermanP

    hey taylor

    first of all, excuse any mistakes… i’m not a native 😀

    really hope it’s not too late to hear your opinion on what i think..

    first of all, i totally agree with you and what you write up there.
    i have another thought to mantion concerning the idea of the tesla machine working… why on earth would Angier keep the watertanks with the copies?? why not burn the bodies or at least throw all of them together?? the tanks are obviously just for the movie watchers..

    concerning Angier’s double… i still think it was Root.. from the beginning on he says he could play Angier. and when it comes to him blackmailing Angier, it is never told what he actually wants… i bet he wants to play the magician. that makes these two perfect for each other, since Angier just wants to play the prestige.

    there are only two things i can’t really answere…
    1. since when did Cutter now about the second twin? he obviously knew it in the end. a friend of mine even thinks he knew it from the beginning… do you have any ideas on that one?
    2. (to be honest i did not read all comments up there, so sorry if it was already answered) how was the watertank moved? i kinda think that Root played the magician and Angier waited for the prestige. when he saw Borden coming on the stage i’m pretty sure he guessed that he would take a look down there.. so he had actually enough time to move the tank and hide then, i just don’t know how he did that?!
    maybe you can help me out on that one, it drives me nuts..

    Reply
  217. Taylor Holmes

    GermanP,
    I only wish I could speak in a second language as fluently as you do! You should be proud of your English abilities. Well done.

    I do love your point with regard to the Tanks and the Bodies. Brilliantly played. Why would he keep them if not just for show. Earlier in the movie we seem him carting out tanks secretively and that is for show as well. If he was working so hard to get rid of the tanks, why does he suddenly have a basement full?

    And I also like your decision on it still being Root. That makes sense to me. I’ve never said I disagreed with that. Root could have sobered up and actually made an effort to be the front man. And that would play in to Angeir’s larger plan as well.

    Now to your questions:

    Since when did Cutter know about the second twin?

    I assume you mean Fallon, not Root? Cutter learned there was an Angier clone when he came to beg Lord Caldlow to destroy the machine after Angier’s “death”. Do remember Cutter’s surprise that he was alive? Cutter said, “I saw you on a slab for God’s sake!” He was ready to beg to destroy the machine – but when he realized Caldlow was Angier he refused. Right? But I don’t think that was when he realized Angier had a twin. I actually think it was when Root arrived to get his daughter from Cutter. Because he then understood that Borden had been wrongfully accused and setup for Angier’s death, when he wasn’t actually dead. Cutter had been certain that Angier was wrongfully killed. But not in the end.

    How was the watertank moved? I kinda think that Root played the magician and Angier waited for the prestige. when he saw Borden coming on the stage i’m pretty sure he guessed that he would take a look down there.. so he had actually enough time to move the tank and hide then, i just don’t know how he did that?!

    Took me three reads of that particular question to figure out what you meant. I think you have it backwards. I believe Angier didn’t “MOVE” the tanks… they were always there underneath the stage. Even on the nights when Borden didn’t go below, Root just dropped into the tank and then got out. And Root just finished out the performance above.

    The question you MEAN to ask is, how did he know to switch the lock from a fake lock to a real lock? Borden goes down below, and in order to frame him for murder the magician’s fake lock is switched with the real lock and Root is stuck in the tank. But Borden wanders on stage to inspect the trick before they do it. So Angier had plenty of time to flip it out before they actually do it. Right? Does that logically follow?

    Reply
  218. GermanP

    thanks, i really appreciate that 🙂

    thanks for your answer.
    yes i was talking about Fallon/Borden. a friend of mine thinks Cutter knew about them living one life from the beginning because of some actions Cutter makes, but it really could be just interpretation. i guess we have to watch the movie another 2 times. until we can decide on one theory
    i honestly have never realised that Cutter gave up his plan begging for the machine to be destroyed. another hint that the machine is not working

    concerning the water tank..
    that was what i thought too, especially after Cutter mentions the “non-trick” lock. i was sure it had to do something with that.
    but then, when Root falls into the tank he looks pretty scared and hits the glass. he looks surprised to me… like he fell into the watertank for the first time- which would raise the question how the watertank got there.
    although he might have already tried to open the lock and then wanted to show Borden that he doesn’t get out…
    and if i think about it.. i gotta admit that that’s the only reasonable explanation, because it would be impossible for a single person to move the tank.
    and then as you said: for switching a lock, there was waaay enough time

    Reply
  219. k-wiz

    first sorry 4 my english.

    Hi, so just a few point i ‘d like to add to this.
    First of all finally i find a blog where someone ACTUALLY realize that the Tesla machine was a fake. Tesla teaching indeed, was that you can trick someone, cause “people want to see, what they WANT to see”. (Tesla was -clearly- having fun…all the time, and Tesla assistent, already -knows- that Angier “steal” that little book…)

    So Angier was deeeeeply fooled, and so he want to do it back.

    That said i have a couple of things to say :

    1)Angier obviously re-contact Root. Whoever is the guy who broken his leg, they decide to put the water tank because the falling probably would be less painful for a person with a broken leg. (actually the full central movie, can also be the story of Root, if you think.)

    2)Cutter, during the trial was still sure that Borden killed Angier, he said that “someone moved the tank” cause he never want to reveal the trick , but with the judge only, he reveal that the murder was made just by a real lock instead of a fake one. (“illusionists” he said, thinking about Borden and Angier.), but he doesn t really care, since he was still sure that Borden was a killer.

    (Probably every night one of them fall, then go out.But that night, after seeing Borden on stage, Angier changed the lock, and also don’t re-appeared in the theatre.)

    Then, after he (Cutter) discovered that Angier -actually- killed Root, (probably only to make Borden go to jail) , he changed his mind on Angier, and believe that HE, is a killer. And doesnt like it, also like he doesnt like the daughter fact.

    (but i’m still sad for the Angier wife, that seems nobody cares in the movie.)

    3)Blind assistants – water – little delayed trap-door – moving the water tanks – transporting them in street – collecting them in a room –
    I think these are all things put togheter, for the same purpose, trick the audience.
    The theatre man, the director, said ” ok, but u have to disguise this trick a little, u must confuse them, u must make them doubt.” doubt on what ?
    That something really happened? Or that the machine teleport ? So a man in the water, cannot “run” to the other end of the stage, dry ?

    The secret place with the tanks was again just for Borden and the audience. Angier was yes still sad after the words of Cutter ( agony), but because they both refer to Root.
    But the most of other bodies were probably wax bodies. ( why a body in the water not float? why a body in the water not rotten ?

    4) How can lord Coldlow grow a beard is such few days ? (well here the time is not clear, in fact, but the Angier that dies has the beard, the one in the tank, not.)

    Was lord Coldlow at home, all the time ?

    5) If you look closely, the person drowning…actually say the word ” ANGIER! ANGIER! ” ??..
    (so it must be Root, that find the roof locked ) .

    All these things said, are consistent, to a final look.

    BUT –

    Only ONE thing i cannot solve.
    Why the hell Borden was so angry with Fellon that they don’t find the way Angier do the trick?
    Is he stupid ?

    For being so sure there is only ONE reason. That he was triple sure that Root was not there.
    Or……………wait wait……that he doesn’t knows Root ………?

    So the person talking to Root was the one that loved Olivia. And they dont speak each other ?…
    So -there was- a bad Borden………that definitively deserve the jail…(also for SArah.)

    But then again , if he was so a bad person, why the hell Cutter is so happy after Angier dies ?…

    Ok, he killed Root. But if Angier doesn’t do anything, the bad Borden, (killed Angier wife -AND- “Sarah” ) is free to do what he want? how to jail a twin ? Sure Angier choose a bad way to do it… but also they both (Root and bad Borden) humiliated Angier, in the first place.

    So…i don’t really appreciate the disgust of Cutter when he saw Lord Coldlow, and the “don’t care” some days after the dead of Angier’s wife.
    He also was the one that shout Borden to dont make the double landford.

    There is another hidden “Cutter” level, to see now ? …………..

    Reply
  220. k-wiz

    Aaaaaaaa ! ……….

    The Cutter trick of the cage…………. actually LEAVES the bird…alive !!!!!!

    ……………….

    So…………If Cutter was still Angier’s friend……….. he make Borden believe he killed him…
    So the duel ends…. 🙂

    He send Fellon there……….but ……..well….bullet-proof..? mmm…damn… this movie.. 🙂

    Reply
  221. k-wiz

    Also :

    The hats are like the birds (opening scene). —> they look like the same, but they are all different.

    The bodies are like the hats (ending scene). —> they look like the same, but they are all different.

    So the bodies are like the birds. (ending) —> Cutter looks himself around in the Borden room, noticing : lot of cages, and lot of birds,
    like the Angier’s secret room : lot of cages, and lot of bodies.

    (So at some point you can also barely imagine the audience saying “oh my God he kills a man every single night…!!!” , that is exaclty what Nolan want to push you to believe, to fool you. And the theatre audience, obvious.)

    But then i still want to find a way to escape for Angier.

    Reply
  222. k-wiz

    The simply reason why people are talking about this , is not that we “don’t want” to believe that it is a (flat) sci-fi movie, but that the Director of the movie at the end says “you are now looking for the trick” , so , is not an invention to search for the trick, Nolan atually asked to search for it, so i see nothing strange into search for it.

    Reply
  223. k-wiz

    But then maybe we don’t, we never find it. cause we want. to be. fooled.

    Reply
  224. H.M.

    How long has this been going, three years? Good grief! Someone is way** overthinking this film. That’s all I really wanted to say but in the interest of keeping on topic, I believe the machine *did* work. That’s not really the point of the film but it seems to be the *obsession* of the thread.

    Reply
  225. Taylor Holmes

    H.M. – obsession? Seriously, that’s all you’ve got? Mental disorder? Violent O.C.D? Neuroses? But obsession seems extremely light discriptively. Just saying. Nice of someone to comment who believes the machine worked ocassionally. I think I scared most of them off the property unfortunately. Thanks for commenting regardless!

    Reply
  226. H.M.

    What’s wrong with obsession? It’s not something to be taken lightly and as I recall the word was used several times throughout the movie. Actually my usage of the word was about this thread not the movie so yes, obsession. Obsession by the way, many times encompasses all of the other things you mentioned. Yes I believe the machine worked most definitely and no worries, I don’t scare easily 🙂

    Reply
  227. Ryanj252

    Hey Taylor and all the other Nolan Fans

    I’ve just finished watching the movie again for the 7th time after having first read through this article and read through most of the comments. Unfortunately, I have to suggest, Taylor, that your theory is wrong. Just as wrong as my theory is on the Cloning Box actually working.

    Do you want to know the real trick? It’s neither any of the theories we have thought of, its neither the original hat or the duplicated one, its neither fallon or Borden. But instead….it is both! The real winner here is not Fallon or Lord Caldlow, but Christopher Nolan himself. He has presented the complexity equally in both the lives of the magicians, yet made it simple enough for us to doubt whether either or both is true. We can argue till the end of the world, but we will never know who the turn was, and who was the prestige. That all rolled up, is a trick in itself – with NO prestige.

    Lord Caldlow makes Nolan’s (and any other Movie Directors) P.O.V evident in his dying speech. “The audience knows the truth. The world is simple, miserable…solid all the way through. But if you can fool them, even for a second. Then you can make them wonder, then you got to see something very special”

    And that’s exactly what Nolan did! He made you wonder…yes, you reading this very comment. Trying to figure out who the real transporter was. Its the look on your face right now….that makes all of this……WORTH IT!

    Reply
  228. taylor

    Hey Ryan,
    I don’t disagree. I’ve stated more than once that Nolan’s goal is to balance two juxtaposed ideas on a knife’s edge and make it so that both could be viable. To make certain that there is no contradictory evidence to either opposite theory in order to cause the most angst and introspection to the movie goer. I actually think the more evenly balanced the movie is the better it is.

    And that is why the Prestige currently has 255 (now 256) different comments, on this blog alone, all discussing the chink in the various theories. I personally think that the Prestige is Nolan’s best movie for that reason alone. But I hear the fan base yelling – BUT MEMENTO MAN!!! But the problem with Memento is that isn’t two juxtaposed options but 20 different possibilities all tackling each other in a scrum of chaos. And that is too many. The Prestige has exactly two. Either the machine worked, or it did not. And I can’t PROVE the machine worked, and you can’t PROVE that it did. That is a perfect movie in my humble opinion. Great fodder for discussion.

    Kinda like Shane Carruth’s Primer – either the movie’s timeline was true and comprehensive, or there was something more going on before the movie started. Just a brilliant yes/no boolean going on right there. Or his Upstream Color for that matter… (speaking of which, have you seen that particular movie? If so you have to read my latest blog doubling as LSD trip).

    Thanks for following up Ryan… see – we don’t disagree, even though you are wrong! hahaha.
    Taylor

    Reply
  229. Matt

    1) The comments about the “clone” knowing not to pop-up at the last performance.

    Obviously Angier see’s Borden inspecting the machine and going back-stage before he hops into the machine. When he’s cloned (and transported), the clone would have his exact memories and therefore knows Borden is backstage and not to pop-up.

    Also, as far as the clone is concerned, he is the “real” Angier and think he’s been transported (not cloned). “Wait, im the real… BANG”

    When you think about it – if you were cloned and popped up 100 meters away – to you (the clone) – it would seem as if you were just instantly transported.

    I also think Angier knows the machine works before he first tries it – this is why he puts a gun next to it.

    Reply
  230. BT

    Wow, this is so interesting. I go back and forth honestly between the sci-fi and “it was all a trick”, some great things to think about here. I haven’t read all the comments but I’ve read a lot of them. Honestly a lot of this feels like the same kind of thing as the Indoctrination theory with Mass Effect 3, except they released an extended cut which kinda killed it unfortunately, though I thought there was tons of evidence for it, dunno if you heard of that.

    Not going to rehash all of the points made prior. By the way, I think people should re-watch the scene where Tesla’s place gets destroyed. I think it’s more likely that Tesla did it himself with his assistant. There were 2 Edison men, same number as him and his assistant. If you watch closely two men with no clear shots of their faces are seen destroying Tesla’s place, then Tesla is seen getting into the carriage AFTER his place is destroyed, it’s clearly already on fire. If Tesla destroyed his own place, that would fit right in with the machine didn’t work. And if he didn’t destroy his place but still had the machine, do you really think feeling sorry for an obsessed man or simply out of honor would make him give up a CLONING machine? Maybe, but I think it more likely that Tesla did indeed burn his place down and leave so he wouldn’t have to confront Angier or do any more tests with him, say Angier wanted to test it on himself the next time they met. So this way Tesla can leave him with the machine and a total BS letter and Angier wouldn’t know, except Angier then uses this very same con for his final trick. Great! Fits right in with Angier always stealing tricks. Also, right before Angier finds out Tesla’s gone he walks by a carriage (which looks EXACTLY the same as the carriage Tesla and his assistant got into after the fire) and a car with two men. I’m not sure I can prove this part but I think those two might be Tesla and his assistant in disguise, trouble is it’s very hard to tell, the one guy is heavily bearded and I don’t know that the other guy really looks like, the shot is so quick, I’ve looked at it again and again but we get only a side angle but I think he resembles Tesla. They and Angier exchange very odd looks. And we’ve seen in this movie before facial hair/makeup disguises. Even if it’s not Tesla and his assistant it doesn’t disprove the fire.

    That’s all I really have to add, not sure anyone else mentioned it. However, one thing I disagree with you on is that this is a bad movie with the sci-fi. I actually think this is a brilliant movie whether or not the sci-fi is the true explanation. In that sense it doesn’t matter to me. If we have the sci-fi, I think it showcases Angier’s same old problem, he’s never willing to sacrifice, he wants real magic. He didn’t want the bird to die, he always wants the prestige’s glory for himself. And I love the idea of him killing himself over and over for 100 nights, in his incredible selfishness he actually doesn’t care at all about himself but puts himself under great pain so he can have some glory. “No one cares about the man in the box” I think not only applies to his actual end but also how he, in being so selfish, constantly sent himself down into the box, the water tank, to die, he doesn’t even care about himself unknowingly. That’s the cost Tesla was talking about, Angier never understood, even until the very end. And he could never coexist with one of his clones, he would always want all the glory for himself, and when he is cloned it’s always the same selfish ambitious Angier as the one before (regardless of whether the clone or he teleports). I like the symbolism of him murdering himself 100 times, like he’s 1/100th the man he ever was when he finishes because he’s murdered himself so many times over, and then even that is taken away. I love the idea that even with this impossible science, “real magic,” that loving sacrifice is still far superior, symbolized in Borden/Fallon A (the one who loved his wife) being the victor in the end. That a loving father returning to his daughter is far greater than a murderer returning to an audience even if his magic is real.

    You don’t do magic or anything for the looks on anyone’s faces (this goes for sci-fi or not ending). That’s a surefire way to destroy everything around you, because there’s no satisfying that glory-seeking nature. But if you do anything out of love for the magic/activity, that is far greater and much less destructive (though I think just doing it for yourself is still destructive, after all a major part of Borden/Fallon A’s life is still destroyed even so, would not honesty have been better, even if he had to give up magic? Though Borden/Fallon A does realize that in the end I think).

    Honestly that’s the most important part of the movie I think. You can debate all you want about whether the machine did or did not work, but does it really matter in the end? The fact is, Angier’s selfishness and ambition leads to his death and destruction of many others around him, and so does Borden/Fallon B’s in a lesser sense. Borden A/Fallon A will always be the “victor.” And you know what? Angier may have played the greatest trick of all on everyone, but it doesn’t matter. And I think just because Angier would lose even with the Prestige’s prestige (if the machine did not work), doesn’t mean that the machine therefore did work. I think that may even be the point of the movie. If you get consumed by desire for the prestige, you’re on the path to destruction. Or perhaps the Prestige’s prestige would still be Borden/Fallon A returning to his daughter. I think that’s a far greater prestige than anything Angier did, and so in that way the greater prestige will have won. I don’t know what some people are thinking earlier in this discussion saying Angier won because he pulled it off. He died friendless and loveless consumed by desire for glory. He didn’t win anything, and that’s so sad that people think he actually did to me. As Borden/Fallon B says in prison, “It’s not a bloody competition!” (well it is bloody, and it has been a competition, but it shouldn’t be). People get consumed with coming up with the better trick and the better movie and the better this and that, that is heading straight for destruction. Seems they can’t naturally just look at their own trick as if it were someone else’s and someone else’s as equally important, we just want more of us and less of them, more of us and less of them.

    Also perhaps symbolically the pledge/turn/prestige of the movie is pledge=real, firmly grounded in naturalistic explanation tricks and sequences, turn=tesla machine appearing to work, dissappearance of that, and prestige=return of the real trick. Problem is for me that it doesn’t really matter. The prestige will always be to me the return of the father to his daughter, a beautiful ending note.

    Reply
  231. DG

    I’m on the anti-cloning/magic trick side. Here are some quick points that I don’t think have been addressed, although they might have.

    (1) Generally – there is no right or wrong answer, at least to the extent that is 100%, inception style

    (2) If the cloning worked, then why would Anger assume/know that Fallon was Borden’s twin? That’s a very specific jump to make. Why not assume that Borden cloned himself? Also, Borden screwing Angier over by sending Angier to Tesla only to have Tesla make a working machine–that is almost as big of a stretch as the actual cloning.

    (3) Here’s what I think happened, but I’m also open to changing it. Angier is just done with it all at the end, and decides he’ll be the man in the box. Angier is on stage, he goes through the trap door, he falls into a tank of water that isn’t completely filled, and the stage hands take him back to the warehouse. Then Root/another double pops out in the balcony, far enough away that Borden cannot tell the difference. Borden just knows Angier would never try it again. Final show, Angier tells the double to switch with him. Double dies.

    Anyway, I need to watch again. Let me know your thoughts

    Reply
  232. Loquacient

    The “sci-fi” problem that seems to be noted most often is the idea that a 19th century inventor could create a working teleportation device. May I suggest you search some of the mythology surrounding Nikola Tesla? For my part, I believe the machine worked, and to those who say Tesla wouldn’t “abandon” such a valuable thing, I can only suggest you don’t possess the mind of a visionary. He built what his paying customer asked for, and in the end he found it distasteful. What’s so hard about that? Visionaries don’t live solely in material world.

    I am not suggesting that Tesla actually built anything like this, but it comes close to some of the hyperbole surrounding his genius, and given all of that it becomes remotely plausible that he could have.

    Reply
  233. Taylor

    Dang, you guys are prolific out here. Hard to keep up with all of your interesting ideas (both pro and con… I find them all fascinating, but unfortunately, too much like the rising waters here in Colorado – hard to stay on top of).

    Also, as far as the clone is concerned, he is the “real” Angier and think he’s been transported (not cloned). “Wait, im the real… BANG”

    Yeah, I agree Matt. If you believe in the sci-fi theory and that the machine creates clones ex nihilo, then definitely… It stands to reason that you would believe yourself to be the prime. It is nothing like time traveling clones… Where your previous self is displaced by a future self… But rather you ARE the prime. (Thinking of Primer there.) But for me, a non-believer, the primacy of Angier and his location in the trick (front/back) is intricately important. Yes?

    Tesla is seen getting into the carriage AFTER his place is destroyed, it’s clearly already on fire. If Tesla destroyed his own place, that would fit right in with the machine didn’t work

    BT, I really liked this point of yours. I will have to go watch this scene again more closely. But that is a good point. I also liked your meta discussion surrounding the larger point of the movie. If it was about winning, or being better… You lost. Right? Which I personally believe is true in life as well. Thinking of the words, if you lose your life you will gain it, but if you try to save your life you will lose it.” But yeah, who cares about the machine at the end of the day…. They destroyed each other trying to win. Good points.

    DG –

    1. Definitely. I agree. Though I’m still right 99% at least! Hahah.

    2. Yes, I have made this point here myself… Though years ago, and it may have been my own clone.

    3. I think I get it. And if I do, I think it jives for me. But I actually had always thought he was ALWAYS in the tank until the very last performance when Borden is spotted. But it doesn’t matter either way. But still thinking.

    May I suggest you search some of the mythology surrounding Nikola Tesla?

    Loquacient, since watching the movie I have read ever book I could get my hands on regarding Tesla generally and the Tesla/Edison feud specifically. Love the man, his ideas and the way he was shunned eventually. I get it.

    But at the end of the day, creating something, out of nothing… Is impossible. It will always be impossible. Not only that, but cloning an adult human in a flash? Memories, abilities, skills… All instantly replicated with just a bit of electricity? Oh and by the way, we’ll also toss the clone a little bit over that —-> way just for convenience sake?!? And the sake of the performance? No no no. Tesla was cool. An inventor with a vision much more grand than Edison’s – but who cares if he was Einstein himself?! This thing you refer to is impossible. But I get it why people roll with the machine works… Definitely more simple that way, that’s for sure!

    Reply
  234. Andy

    What a great post! I’m a huge Nolan fan and recently rewatched The Prestige so I came looking for theories. I feel like The Prestige is one of the most misunderstood movies released at its time. How many critics actually understood it? Very few from what I’ve read. I think your analysis is quite brilliant.

    I had all the pieces in my head but never wrote it down like you did which makes it easier to grasp. I read nearly every comment on here because I’ve become obsessed haha. I wonder if Nolan knew that to figure the movie out you had to become obsessed. He had to have known that which is quite interesting. The intricacies in this story are astounding but I think there is something that everyone here missed and it’s not spelled out.

    The movie is essentially exploring Science vs. Religion. It never even states this which is all the more impressive. Rewatch it and think about it. Tesla’s machine represents the progression and destruction of uncertainties in life. Religion and Science.

    The story takes place at the turn of the century. Science is now beginning to take over the idea of a magician and now the magicians must implement science. This is the start of the duality.

    Borden dies and then comes back. People that were thought to be dead come back many times =Ressurection.

    Angier won’t believe the simple explanations for Borden having a twin. He wants to believe in something more.

    One of the main themes is Sacrifice.

    Consider certain bits of dialogue-

    “Nobody cares about the man in the box. Nobody cares about the man that disappears.” referring to the resurrection of Jesus.

    He put them there fool you!” Angier to Scarlett Johansson (dont think that’s the exact words) Ex. People fighting over Dinosaur bones and evolution etc.

    Note this of course not the only theme or purpose but it is possibly the biggest one and doesn’t take sides.

    Tesla’s machine works: Religion wins

    Tesla’s machine doesn’t work: Science wins

    When it’s done you can debate (as you have been here) is it possible? Can you believe in something so unreal without an explanation (which is why the sci-fi element works in the machine is real theory!)

    I love both theories honestly and I think that’s part of the greatness if you can grasp and understand the whole movie. I think you’re being much too harsh on it if the machine does work lol. The movie is still brilliant. Duality is so present throughout- Borden vs. Angier, Tesla vs. Edison, Science vs. Religion. None of the sides in the dualities wins out which is the whole point. You believe what you want to believe. The Prestige is truly a masterpiece. Inception went on to explore more ideas and I believe it’s just as brilliant as The Prestige. That too is not fully understood by many people.

    Reply
  235. theauthor

    The trickiest part of this film for me is the foreshadowing.

    Like the bird trick…You don’t really want to know that the magician literally kills the one bird and pretends to have kept it alive by using a substitute bird. But, the little boy sees through the magic and thus hates the trick.

    Borden’s girl doesn’t see what really happened to her Dad.

    The Chinese Magician. this is not only a real trick, but the explanation of the trick is a trick. What is shown is a lie. This is one of the greatest tricks ever done and, while not fully explained, has been broken down by a few other magicians.

    No, I won’t tell you, but it is true that no trap floor or the black curtain that modern magicians use was used in this real trick. Only one other magician has ever truly duplicated this trick. (Penn and Teller’s trick is totally different and very easy to break down.)

    The fighting cats portrays that the Angier’s double would always try to kill each other rather than create a duplicate like Borden has.

    This film is an overlooked masterpiece of theater, especially the explanation of the three stages of magic, which applies directly to the film.

    Reply
  236. theauthor

    PS
    The machine really does work.
    I think you have ‘Fallon’ and the first Borden mixed up in the end.
    It would take to long to explain right now.
    (See Nolanfans.com website for details.)

    Nolan makes one think that Tesla was tricking Angier to get all of his money, perhaps working in hand with borden as a trick. but he really does make a working machine.
    (Read the book if you don’t believe this)

    This was partially based on a real battle between magicians, one of which was a pretend Chinese magician who never spoke English except when he was accidentally shot during a bullet catch and died shortly afterward. There is a lot of research that can be done on this film.

    Reply
  237. Taylor

    Andy great post – thanks for taking the time out to read such a long wided diatribe and the endless mind scramblings we have so well sautéed!! Hahah. I do like your science vs. Faith perspective. Don’t know if you have them backwards or not, but that is beside the point. It is true though – it’s an investigation of logic and faith. That much I am sure of.

    Author, seeing as though we have such a kindred spirit when it comes to primer and Carruth I am more than a little disappointed you fall into the “machine works” camp. Oh I know the Nolan fanboys well. I think most of them confused in almost every way. This post is a response… No a reaction… To their misguided attempts to understand the movie.

    But as you and I see so many other things so similarly, I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt if you’d like to try and rebut this post. Or not. Whatever. I think the comments actually speak for themselves now… Heheh. I should build some AI search engine out of the comments to answer for me! Now there is the beginnings of a movie script of interest. Anyway, thanks for swinging by Author and Andy!

    Reply
  238. Tanelfer

    Fascinating blog on one of my favorite movies. Thank you for fascinating reading!! I am in the camp that the entire movie is trick. A wonderful trick – and it took me several viewings to begin to suspect this. It seems most things that can be said have been said here. But I would like to add two things, though, in case this has not been mentioned:

    1. If the machine was real, how come we never, ever see Angier appear out of thin air? He must if the machine works as suggested. But we never see it. Would’t that be neat to see? I would have liked to see if. Nolan wouldn’t give anything away if he showed it. (The only exception is during Angier’s retelling of events to Borden, which has been thoroughly discussed here already). In fact, it took me a few times to realize that we never see it – Nolan just made us think we did. I consider this fact to be a Sherlock Holmes “the dog that didn’t bark” explanation. That fact that we never actually see this happen is the actual clue. It didn’t happen.

    2. Angier told Tesla that Tesla had built a machine for a rival magician. He wants a similar one. But Tesla does not now say – “hey, wait a minute. I never built a machine like that for anyone. Ahhh, hold on mate, maybe you are referring to this light spectacle machine Borden bought. I can make one of those for you. But that’s all it is.” That would have been the obvious and instant response of an honest man. We know that was all Borden’s machine was. But noooo….. instead Tesla suggests the type of machine Angier wants is possible – it’s just a matter of money. Sounds like an obvious scam to me.

    Thanks again!

    -Tanelfer

    Reply
  239. Taylor

    Hey Tanelfer, thanks for the compliments and the comment.

    1. If the machine was real, how come we never, ever see Angier appear out of thin air? He must if the machine works as suggested. But we never see it. Would’t that be neat to see? I would have liked to see if. Nolan wouldn’t give anything away if he showed it. (The only exception is during Angier’s retelling of events to Borden, which has been thoroughly discussed here already). In fact, it took me a few times to realize that we never see it – Nolan just made us think we did. I consider this fact to be a Sherlock Holmes “the dog that didn’t bark” explanation. That fact that we never actually see this happen is the actual clue. It didn’t happen.

    Sneaky that. When I realized for the first time that the journals were works of marketing for their foes, my jaw hit the floor. And then I began to realize that this sort of propaganda was ridded throughout the movie. It was everywhere. So good on ya mate.

    2. Angier told Tesla that Tesla had built a machine for a rival magician. He wants a similar one. But Tesla does not now say – “hey, wait a minute. I never built a machine like that for anyone. Ahhh, hold on mate, maybe you are referring to this light spectacle machine Borden bought. I can make one of those for you. But that’s all it is.” That would have been the obvious and instant response of an honest man. We know that was all Borden’s machine was. But noooo….. instead Tesla suggests the type of machine Angier wants is possible – it’s just a matter of money. Sounds like an obvious scam to me.

    Sounds like it to me too. Concur completely.

    Taylor

    Reply
    • glenn

      I agree with the poster and taylor ( who is unnessecarily rude sometimes) but imo mostly right about the plot.

      My only issue i cant resolve (and again i favor the side the machine didnt work) is the cat thats cloned. When the cat is cloned its wearing a collar. Then tesla help takes it off, Angier then discovers the hat and the cats. We see one cat with collar and one without. It seems intended. Now i know that angier is telling this story though his diary but this detail would seem moot to include in his diary, and this does lend credence to the machine worked? Idk if this stands out as odd to any1?

      Also completely different point to a misunderstanding i read alot, Angier didnt need 100 doubles he only needed 1. The trick only rid of this double once when borden was framed. The other nights the contents n the tank upon removal was staged and in fact the tank was not under the trap door every night. At the end we only see 1 clear angier n d tank it was the double.

      Reply
      • Taylor Holmes

        Hey there Glenn,
        I have said it before and I’ll say it again… I get way way too intense about this particular topic. I mean… look at this page! I’d guess that there are at least a book’s worth of content on this one topic. Yeah, something like 85,000 words all told. So yes, I have taken it all way way too far. And sometimes I can be too intense on a point… or all points… or always. hahaha.

        So my apologies Glenn. No. My apologies EVERYONE for pushing the point to hard, or too far. I probably need medication to drive more stability in this one area (one! hahah) of my life.

        As for your point about the cats… that is quite fascinating, and I’ll admit, I didn’t notice the one with and the one without. I really honestly got nothing for you there. Anyone want to take a stab at an answer? I’ll have to pull it back open and see that one bit again. I love it when someone points out new little tid-bits like that one. Makes me go… hrmmm… why is that there?!?

  240. mr burns

    Taylor.

    The book and film are both science fiction. Frankenstein. Bladerunner. The Time Machine. The matrix, Etc.

    God and his ability to create Adam out of clay do not overlap here, as that seems to be a thing you rely on.

    1. Teslas machine worked. Jackman produced a clone each night and murdered it or committed suicide himself. This speaks to the cost and sacrifice etc. Of obsession.

    2. Tesla’s machine built for Borden. Borden uses it once then drops it into the deepest part of the ocean on the way back from his trip to tesla in colorado. Which happens sometime. Possibly with just fallon.

    3. Borden puts jackman on to the Tesla trail to save his brother. Goading him to get his hands dirty. He knows he’ll get a machine built its more a question of does he have the guts to share the limelight and prestige with the new copies.

    4. Borden goes back stage to see what jackman is doing with the clones. Only to realise jackman has paid the price and the sacrifice. Murder.

    5. The hanged borden says abra… meaning his dwath is a trick or the end of one. So he is the third “Alfred” created by borden/fallon on their ship journey back. Where they dropped the machine in to the sea.

    6. The reason the borden’s stage mmachinehas no electricity is because it is not a functioning clone box. They dumped it after one use. As we are told.

    Reply