The ending of The Prestige

The Prestige

Like my post about The Illusionist a few weeks ago, I'm about to reveal the ending of Christopher Nolan's The Prestige. If you haven’t seen it and don’t want the ending spoiled, stop reading now.

If The Illusionist and The Prestige are rival magicians, then the latter is Ricky Jay and the former is David Copperfield. This analogy holds in several ways, but the most relevant is that The Prestige is the better movie. I will admit up front that part of what makes The Prestige so enjoyable is how it compares to The Illusionist, but it also is engaging and fun in its own right. But like I did with The Illusionist, I'm going to put aside all comments about plot, character, and cinematography (all entertaining in both films to various degrees) and just talk about how The Prestige approaches magic on film.

Here are two things I said about The Illusionist:

1) [M]agicians, as in the real-life profession kind, probably wouldn’t like this movie.

2) The fact that the “real” magic in the movie wasn’t grounded in the actual craft destroyed my suspension of disbelief.

In both cases, I believe the opposite to be true in The Prestige. Let's start with the first quote.

I don't know any magicians personally, but I think they would enjoy watching this film. Unlike The Illusionist, which solely relied on special effects to depict its most complex magic tricks, The Prestige is all about the mechanics of the tricks. The fun of the movie is trying to guess how the two rival magicians Alfred Borden and Rupert Angier, played by Christian Bale and Hugh Jackman respectively, perform their respective flagship tricks where, in both cases, a man is instantly transported across a stage. In the meantime, and entertainingly, the rival magicians are constantly showing up at each other's shows in disguise and disrupting the other's tricks, often in a humorously cruel and physically harmful manner.

The Illusionist was based on one "magic" trick that was more of a Shyamalanian twist ending; The Prestige bases its two big tricks on the actual craft magicians use, making it more fun to puzzle out during the film. Even though I figured out how the two Transporting Man tricks were done well before the reveal at the end of the film, it didn't matter because 1) it made sense in the logic of the film; 2) it didn't remove the tension from the plot; and 3) I wasn't entirely sure about one of the tricks until it was explicitly revealed, since it relied on a bit of science-fiction.

Before I move on to the second quote, let me discuss the operation of the two tricks. The secret to Borden's Human Transporter is grounded in the mundane -- throughout the entire movie, we are led to believe that there is only one magician, but in fact Borden has an identical twin. The twins have been sharing wives, mistresses, dismembered fingers, etc. all their lives, alternately playing Borden and disguising himself as his assistant Fallon. Their entire lives are essentially built around the performance of the Human Transporter trick. Angier's trick is grounded in science-fiction: he hires Nikola Tesla (pictured above, played by David Bowie) to devise a machine for him that creates exact duplicates of whatever is placed in the machine. Thus, every night Angier performs his trick, he creates an exact duplicate of himself which he kills off beneath the stage where blind stagemen are staffing the apparati, unaware of the nightly massacre.

Which brings us to the second quote. In The Illusionist, I was annoyed at how I had to suspend disbelief that the computer effects I was seeing were actually mundane magic tricks. I far preferred suspending my disbelief in The Prestige to believe that Nikola Tesla could have invented a matter duplication machine. What made this especially believable and interesting is that 1) Tesla was indeed a scientific genius; 2) he did in fact spend time in Colorado Springs working on ideas that the scientific community found to be bizzare; 3) he had fascinating visions of the future, such that all electricity would be based on wireless energy; and 4) the machine that Tesla creates in the film leads to all sorts of interesting philisophical problems. While his actual science came nowhere near creating a matter duplication machine, it was real enough to work within the context of the film. Plus, the addition of Tesla allowed his real-life rivalry with Thomas Edison to serve as a foil to the magicians' rivalry. Lastly, it says something interesting about the tenuous relationship between magic and science, perhaps embodied in the real world by Ricky Jay and in the film by the engineer Cutter, played by Michael Caine.

The Prestige is by no means a great film, but I thoroughly enjoyed deconstructing the tricks as the film progressed. If the reveal had only been the trick behind Borden's Transporter, it would've been mere Shyamalan. Instead, with the addition of Angier's soul-selling foray into science fiction, it climbs to a higher plane. A 2006 magician movie that David Mamet could be proud of.

Last minute thought: There is one hiccup in the set-up of the tricks in the film that a quick visit to the IMDB message boards brought up. Did Borden grow up with a twin all his life, or did he use another version of Tesla's machine to create his twin? I'm inclined to go with the former, since Bale is considered in the film to be the more ethical magician, but that does lead to a coincidence involving Tesla. If it's the latter, then why did Borden not know how Angier performed his trick? Any thoughts?

Last second thought: Continuing to read through the IMDB comments, I'm satisified with my original theory. Borden used Tesla to create a machine purely for show, whereas Angier convinced him to take the morally unsound step to make the actual duplication device. A coincidence, yes, but when it comes to Tesla, a reasonable one.

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I think that you are willing to forgive a lot in this moment, but in time probably your opinion of this movie will sour (and, yes, I acknowledge that you yourself admit the movie isn't great). I personally found myself much more engaged in the Illusionist, although I was also somewhat annoyed with its ending. In fact, I think the Illusionist could have succeeded if the magic of making the people and the orange tree appear had in fact been a projected image (that Edward Norton's character had refined with his intellectual ability to engineer such a machine). They should not have had the prince's men illustrate how this might have been possible.

I think that the Prestige was only a step above entertaining. I was not able to suspend my belief as much as you about Tesla's machine. It seems contradictory that you are praising the Prestige for its realistic portrayal of magic tricks/acts, when the plot is largely dependent on science fiction. Tsk, tsk I say for wanting to have it both ways, crazymonk. Of course, I respect your right to enjoy it and proclaim it better than the Illusionist, because entertainment is important when viewing a movie.

Here are some of the nit-picky details of the movie that really bother me:

1) Why would it have been necessary to conceal the fact that there were Borden twins at the beginning of the movie? It seems counter-intuitive that the twins would "save" their secret for some ultimate trick that came after the bullet catch-- why not start sooner to do the trick? If they already had it in mind, then it makes sense. But as it is presented, it does not seem like they had thought of it yet.

2) The fact that we are somehow supposed to feel that the ending is pleasing in that one of the Borden twins lives and walks off with the daughter... The Michael Caine character acting all smug about knowing the secret...

3) What happened to that boy that was with Borden's wife in the beginning of the movie?

4) (This one annoyed me the most): The scene where Michael Caine's character watches the blind men take the tank out of the theater... why? Because it assumes for one moment that his character knows the secret, then later he says he doesn't. Also-- in the very last shot of the movie, we see all of the bodies of the dupes, but hadn't they been moved elsewhere? Are we supposed to assume that the character moved them all out and then moved all of those test-tube like containers back to destroy them underneath the theater? Seems a little convenient to me just to arrive at the final shot.

Sorry if I am not articulating these things well, but alas, I don't have time to go back and edit for more clarity.

Slater | Sun, 10/22/2006 - 3:21pm

"It seems contradictory that you are praising the Prestige for its realistic portrayal of magic tricks/acts, when the plot is largely dependent on science fiction."

But that's exactly my point. The Prestige portrayed a science-fiction conceit in a realistic way. The Illusionist portrayed a plausible conceit in an unrealistic way. I far prefer the former.

1) It's not "necessary," but it makes it interesting. Thinking back on the movie, it's interesting to consider the differences between the two twins. One is obviously more impulsive than the other -- that's the one who tied the double knot, fell in love with Scarlet Johannson, and ran under Angier's stage during the murder. As for why they saved the trick, that was set up with the Chinese magician, who lives his entire life as a lie in order to set up the show. Borden mentions to Sarah earlier in the film that he has a great trick in mind, so presumably they are saving it so as to not burn out too young.

2) I don't think it was meant to be pleasing that one of the Borden twins had to die, but it is supposed to be pleasing that Angier is killed.

3) That was her nephew. I don't think he was of any significance.

4) I guess Angier would rather build new tanks than to dispose of dead bodies.

The more I read about The Prestige, the more I like it. But you're right, movies like this only work on the first and maybe second viewings.

crazymonk | Sun, 10/22/2006 - 4:11pm

I saw this today and had very mixed feelings. I loved the grounded magic. Watching those cages collapse, seeing how the tricks were done, that entertained me. And I also figured out both twists well ahead of time, which did not really affect the enjoyment of the movie.

I really didn't like the fact that Tesla invented a magic machine. It took me out of a film that I found really engaging and even believable. On top of that, one person I went to the film with had a good point. Why did Nolan decide to reveal to us the secret of the machine. Why not save that till the end thus making the reveal that he was duplcating and killing himself a surprise.

Anyway, I liked it enough, but I was a bit let down.

New York Anthony | Sun, 10/22/2006 - 8:59pm

Why is it a magic machine? Isn't it more of advanced scientific machine, at least in the context of the film? If some invented such a cloning device (that reconstructed all atoms and electric fields perfectly), would you call it magic? I just saw it as science fiction. And learning that the film was based on an award winning fantasy book surprised me little.

As for the timing of the reveals, maybe Nolan was concerned if the advanced nature of Tesla's machine was held until the very end, it would come off as too ridiculous. Instead, the audience is allowed to get comfortable with the concept for a good chunk of time.

crazymonk | Sun, 10/22/2006 - 9:25pm

I found this movie altogether engrossing. Not perfect by any means. I still puzzle over the characters and their seeming surprise at confronting each other's doubles. Tesla's machine was obviously how Borden's twin came into existance (an interesting side note - when he made a double of himself - he chose a more ethical solution than he did when he chose to tie her wrists more securely at the start of the movie). This had to have been, since how else could he have given "Tesla" as the code word and solution to his act To Angier? However, having known this, he also gives away the solution to his act to Angier. So they both know the science behind the act. They both have to know about the doubles. To act surprised at the existance of each other's "twins" is the weak plot point. These were extremely intelligent, determined and sublte men, and to be so blind a trick just to make the movie more sellable to us.

Tom | Mon, 10/23/2006 - 4:16am

You might consider this irrelevant, Tom, but I've been told that in the book (published in 1996), it's quite clear that the Borden twins are naturally born. The explanation then being that Borden used Tesla merely for show, but knowing that he was a famous scientist, deliberately led Angier on a wild goose chase to America. But, to Borden's later suprise, once the marginalized Tesla started to receive great amounts of cash from Angier, he was actually willing and able to create a machine to allow Angier to do the trick. This involves a coincidence, but given Tesla's eccentricity and genius, it is not an unreasonable one.

crazymonk | Mon, 10/23/2006 - 6:43am

What are you talking about that it's not an unreasonable one? Yes it is. And that is the major flaw in the film. He sends Angier on a wild goose chase. Don't even get me started on the fact that they captured his twin brother but never checked him out. Or the fact that Borden gave him a slip of paper and Angier failed to read it until he went all the way back to Michael Caine. But he then goes to Tesla, asks him to vaguely make him a "machine". He's not even specific as to what he wants the machine to do, mind you. And then he gets the machine that makes doubles. Oh, but not only are they copies. They actually have all your memories and whatnot. I thought it was a huge HUGE cop out. And honestly, I thought it just would have been better if thye followed down the historical path they set up. I think the movie would be better recieved if at the end it is revealed that they are twin brothers and not that Angier had a machine that makes magic, yes magic, copies of things.

Don't get me wrong. The movie had a lot of cool things, looked great, acted well, but it just didn't hold together all that well.

New York Anthony | Mon, 10/23/2006 - 8:55am

No, I don't think it's unreasonable, given the historical character of Tesla. It's not true, yes, but it fits in surprisingly well. Yes, I think it's science fiction, but so is the time machine in 12 Monkeys, and the Terminator, and I enjoy those movies as well.

We have no knowledge that Tesla isn't directly told about the Human Transporter trick. He knows what trick Angier wanted to perform, and he created a machine that does it. (Frankenstein was such a cop out, wasn't it? Was that magic in the context of the film?)

They had no compelling reason to tear at Fallon's face, plus their trap involved immediately putting him in the coffin. (The writers probably chose that approach to head off your very criticism.)

As for the double machine -- of course they're going to have your memories -- they're exact material and electrical doubles!

As I said in my post, if the ending's reveal had been that they were brothers, the movie would've been mere Shyamalan.

crazymonk | Mon, 10/23/2006 - 9:45am

But the movies that you bring up that you like, Frankenstein, Terminator, 12 Monkeys, those films set up rules and follow them. Imagine if Terminator was a story about a woman named Sarah Conner. She has ups and downs in life, just looking for love. And then in the third act, out of the blue, a robot from the future comes and tries to kill her. Oh, and he was invented by Einstein, so it wouldn't be unreasonable to believe.

As for Frankenstein, no it wasn't a cop out. Because the film revolved around that sci-fi conciet. Everything in the Prestige was based on a historical context. The lightbulbs being lit on the earth happened. The Tesla coil happened. Magic, and the way it was presented to us, happened. And then, out the the blue, a machine is made that makes doubles of you. For a film to pull the rug from under an audience like that, it has to earn it. And this film did not. I did not buy that machine.

By the way, I read that in the book, the machine made a double, but what was left behind was a dead body.

Los Angeles Anthony | Mon, 10/23/2006 - 10:13am

i'm kind of surprised that you are so into (at least going to) these magic movies. Does magic have that much appeal to you? I mean, I like magic too, but for some reason these movies didn't appeal to me the way, say, the departed did. And I haven't heard peep one out of your opinion of that (unless I'm forgetting something).

Jon May | Mon, 10/23/2006 - 10:25am

It's not out of the blue. Tesla is introduced in the first act of the film, and it's immediately clear that he is a sort of "mad" scientist.

I don't think the film pulled the rug from under the audience. Everyone in the audience had the slow realization that Tesla's machine was science fiction. I hate to reference Shyamalan, but it reminds me of Unbreakable, which slowly reveals that it's a superhero movie. The Prestige slowly reveals itself as a sci-fi movie. I liked that.

crazymonk | Mon, 10/23/2006 - 10:26am

The Departed is Martin Scorsese's most overrated film. I liked the acting (except Nicholas was too much), I liked the energy, I liked the soundtrack (go Dropkick Murphy's!) but for some reason it fell flat for me. And the last shot was the worst in Scorsese's career. It didn't excite me, so I didn't find it worth writing about. Plus, Infernal Affairs was a better movie. To the people who said it's his best since Goodfellas, I'd say I think that Casino, Kundun, Gangs of New York, and The Aviator, even with all their flaws, were all better than The Departed.

crazymonk | Mon, 10/23/2006 - 10:40am

By the way, I'm fascinated with the personalities behind magicians. I think it ties into my interest in cults and religions.

crazymonk | Mon, 10/23/2006 - 10:41am

Do you think that Utah has something to do with that? I mean, I know we are brothers and all, but why is it that both you and I are so fasicinated with cults and religions?

Los Angeles Anthony | Mon, 10/23/2006 - 10:58am

Jon May:

It seems you should know better than to ask why magician movies carry more interest than a genre mafia/crime movie. Making movies about magicians is like making movies about pirates, explorers, or circus folk-- they draw curiousity because of her affinity for these bizarros as kids. And these two magicians films had reputable actors and directors, and were also historically set in the past-- making them have the pedigrees to potentially be really good. I have little interest in the Departed myself (although I might see it on DVD). Why? Been there, done that about 1000 times.

Crazymonk: I think I know why you are defending some of this movie's weaker points so much. (And, please, don't get me wrong, I enjoyed watching the movie despite my disappointment with the ending).

Recently, I noticed that you rated Kinsey highly on Netflix. I rented Kinsey because of it, and thought it was ok, but not as great as you thought. I began to understand that you probably liked Kinsey a lot because it was about a scientist and his efforts to stand by the process of asking questions and learning new things even if people thought it was controversial. Thus, I was not surprised when you began to show an affinity for liking Tesla's character. In fact, I bet if there were a biography of Tesla in book or movie form, you would have already read it or seen it-- because you like these historical personages and their pursuits.

It is kind of a shame that I realize this now, because I took a History course in college called "Science, Magic, and Society." You would have liked it, I think.

Slater | Mon, 10/23/2006 - 11:40am

I think you have a point, sir.

crazymonk | Mon, 10/23/2006 - 11:51am

The Prestige did pull the rug out from under me. I struggled to suspend my disbelief when the Sci Fi 'trick' was revealed - gradually & then definitively. It disappointed me this film was so grounded in following real rules, scientific & historical, then jumped to something requiring a leap of faith. I absorb science fiction novels & short stories like papyrus takes to ink. The Prestige did not give me goose bumps - it puzzled me.

song ee | Mon, 10/23/2006 - 12:04pm

Slater, your analysis of why cm would review magic movies is very spot on. however, it still seems out of character to review two movies about such similar subjects in such a small time frame when you consider the list of movies given a review since the birth of the blog:
prestige 10/22/06
illusionist 9/10
la dolce vita 8/27
inconvenient truth 6/21
the new world 1/25
syriana 12/11/05 and 11/28/05
harry potter and the goblet of fire 11/19
jarhead 11/15
cemetary man 10/31
oldboy 9/29

That is a quite wide spread of genre and subject matter (kudos!) and I'm sure crazymonk saw more than just these movies in the year plus of this blog. yet he chose to write substantial paragraphs about these. And aside from syriana (which doesn't count cause it was the same movie discussed twice) only "historical" magicians get the two-shot. maybe that's a coincidence - nothing better to compare and contrast (i don't blame anyone for avoiding the boring compare/contrast for capote-other capote). still, it's weird.

Jon May | Mon, 10/23/2006 - 2:12pm

I'm not a film reviewer, so I write about movies that elicit some sort of reaction from me. I wouldn't even describe the list above as "movies given a review" -- it's more like "movies I've had something to say about."

I think I wrote about The Illusionist and The Prestige at length because I find it interesting that two similar movies could approach their subject matter so differently. I didn't know that in advance when I saw The Prestige, but I guess I was predisposed to find interesting magic depicted on film.

Note that I've always been interested in analyzing similar films. Those that knew me in the late 90's probably heard my gendered-base analysis of Deep Impact and Armageddon several times.

I don't plan on seeing Infamous...

crazymonk | Mon, 10/23/2006 - 2:34pm

I think you need to more clearly indicate that this post is one big spoiler. Some of us have no self-control.

Alina | Mon, 10/23/2006 - 3:15pm

This blog is one big spoiler. Snape kills Dumbledore!

crazymonk | Mon, 10/23/2006 - 3:30pm

Aye, John May. Plus it's rare that such similar movies come out so close together. This seems like another
good blog topic. Out of sets of similar movies, which one blew the other out of the water, and does the first movie to come out possess any true statistical advantages over the later?

I remember that there were several Columbus movies that came out around the same time, several Wyatt Earp movies... they seem to be biographies... (Kurt Russell vs. Kevin Costner) I hear the same thing is happening with rival Janis Joplin movies. I'm looking forward to dueling Peewee Herman biopics. :)

Slater | Mon, 10/23/2006 - 3:57pm

Just had an idea. It would be cool if there was an actor-showdown. Two actors or actresses would choose to make rival films about the same persons, but do it for two characters. Thus, both Tom Cruise and Mel Gibson would portray Lincoln, then both would portray Joseph Smith.

Slater | Mon, 10/23/2006 - 4:00pm

Why does Borden's left hand have all five fingers intact and is replete with rings in the scene in which he picks up his daughter from Michael Caine's character's house at the very end of the movie? Maybe it's because we weren't even looking. Or perhaps, even, that we simply don't want to find out...

Chris | Wed, 10/25/2006 - 9:47pm

So what was up with ending the movie on the words "You aren't really looking for the trick. You want to be fooled."?

At first I took it to mean-- and this doesn't hold up, sadly-- that the science fiction in the story is just that: fiction. The man Borden is arrested for killing is actually Root, and Angier has some very, very clever but non-SF way to do his final trick... he makes up the whole Tesla angle to fuck with Borden when writing the fake diary, and then carries it on as he's dying. Borden is the better magician, so Angier knows he'd figure out the trick if he put his mind to it, given enough time. He manages to keep his trick's real secret from Borden (and from us) by coming up with a magical cover story that Borden doesn't question, because it's cool. Just like the audience at a magic show.

Of course, that can't really be it; for one thing, the final shot of a dead Hugh Jackman in the tank can't be Root (he's in the morgue, under this theory) or Angier (he's lying on the floor across the room). But man, I wish that had been it. I would find it easier to like the movie that way.

And yet I enjoyed the story. My two real beefs:

(1) Something creeps me out about the Nolan approach to female characters. It can't just be that awful things happen to them, since awful things happen to their male characters too. And yet...

(2) I'm not down with the implicit "Okay, forget all that moral ambiguity; the cute little girl has her dad back! Awww." ending.

Also, a director willing to make movies this intricate should be able to come up with something more original than (Memento x Primer) + David Bowie = woo!

Aaron | Sun, 10/29/2006 - 7:21pm

Okay, and the internet tells me that last shot had *several* dead Jackmans in tanks. Either I was distracted, or the projection was so dark I couldn't tell.

Aaron | Sun, 10/29/2006 - 8:28pm

Yeah, for some reason I missed the multitude of tanks containing dead Angiers in the last shot as well. I think I was distracted by the tank in the foreground.

I'm with you on points 1) and 2), but what's more original than X + David Bowie? Nothing! (Then again, I've never been a big fan of The Man Who Fell to Earth.)

crazymonk | Sun, 10/29/2006 - 10:44pm

Wow, tough crowd. Like the crazymonk I really enjoyed The Prestige. I think the story holds together quite well and, yes, there are many dead Hugh Jackmans in many tanks. Presumably, had Christian Bale never attended a performance there would have been 100 dead Hugh Jackmans in 100 tanks.

Bottom line: it's a movie. It doesn't have to play by any rules; it doesn't have to have likeable characters or a happy ending; it just has to entertain. I was entertained, much more so than The Departed. I can't agree with the monk more, Infernal Affairs is vastly superior in acting, directing and story. Cheers, and keep up the great work!

paul | Mon, 10/30/2006 - 12:32am

Maybe you're right. Alice In Wonderland + David Bowie was pretty awesome.

Aaron | Mon, 10/30/2006 - 1:32pm

This movies ending really confused me, were we supposed to be happy with this tricky ending. One of the twins die. Was it the father or the twin? Angier dies, or does he? Is there another duplicate somewhere alive? Michael Cain and the endless tricky letters, each one upping one another, turn out to mean nothing.

Lily of the Valley | Mon, 10/30/2006 - 8:05pm

[...] Update: Compare the above to my thoughts on the ending of The Prestige. [...]

Anyone who thinks that Borden had a twin the whole time is retarded....he went to see Tesla and had a clone of himself made...check out for yourself. People need to realize that movies are meant to entertain people. This was an entertaining movie...

one eye open | Thu, 11/09/2006 - 12:05pm

How come no one on this page is talking about the real trick of the film? If you pay attention closely Bale actually escapes his hanging and claims his daughter. He is present upstairs at the same time his twin is below killing Jackmanm (thus the narration about the "prestige" bringing something back). The young child (his daughter) is able to tell the difference between him (her real father) and the twin brother (just like the young boy earlier with the bird). He has escaped without the use of his double. The final shot with the two Jackman bodies seems to have clues that lead you to believe he (or one of his doubles or original) is still alive.

you missed the trick | Thu, 11/09/2006 - 11:44pm

The movie shows him get hanged. How did he fake this in your theory?

crazymonk | Fri, 11/10/2006 - 8:01am

So during the actual Transporter act, was it actual Angier himself who went through the cloning process? Or did he clone himself before the act and use his double do perform the act while he was in the back of the theater the whole time...and then killed both the original double and the new one?

eeeeee | Tue, 11/14/2006 - 11:54pm

Dissapointing! I had hoped that the ending of the film was going to prove that the 'magic machine' was really just another trick! The good thing about this ending would be that everyone in the audience was fooled right to the end. I fear that the ending of the film was too obvious, i.e. the magic machine is simply SCI fi gibberish! (this is totally out of line with the whole film, all other tricks in the film are explained) One query I do have is when the Michael Caine's charachter narrates at the end and says something like, 'now for the secret, but that's just it you don't want to see that, you want to be fooled', maybe there is something else to the story that we are missing. Maybe the magic machine was a trick and not SCI fi? Wouldn't that have made for a better ending?

Chris | Thu, 11/16/2006 - 5:43pm

I came across this website because I wanted to see if the locket in "the Illusionist" was sold anywhere or even possible to make. I saw both the Illusionist and the Prestige and enjoyed both of them equally in their own right. The Illusionist was more of an elaborate love story and was very artistically filmed, and the Prestige's sci-fi yet semi-historical spin was rather intriguing. Everyone above added so much to the explication of the film that the only thing I wanted to point out is that both angier and borden "die" the way their wives did, hanged and drowned respectively. I thought that was a neat and somewhat ironic element that give it more... oomph.

Yeah, this whole blog IS a spoiler. Sir Leigh Teabig is the bad guy!

popplepea | Thu, 12/07/2006 - 1:42pm

Is it just me or did anyone notice that during the cloning process the original gets transported and the clone takes the place right, Angier in the beginning lays a gun out but the Angier in the device grabbed the gun first and shot the other standing out of the cage, so was it the clone who lived the whole time? Another thing is that since the clones are exact in every way who’s to say the clone is the one who didn’t get transported and that Angier wasn’t killing himself every night? Oh yea and I believe both Borden twins lived especially since one asked the guard if he was watching closely.

geomand1 | Tue, 12/26/2006 - 1:29pm

Unless there were really were multiple Angiers in the boxes at the end (I didn't see them, and it sounds like there's some uncertainty about that), then I think it's quite plausible that we're understand that there's no sci-fi here; the double is the double, Root, not a "clone." I think Aaron, above, was right, except when he says that this theory wouldn't work because Root would be in the morgue. Couldn't Angier or his representative simply claim the body?

All the "meta" stuff at the end -- Jackman staring right at us, saying the audience likes to be fooled, Caine saying we don't really want to know the secret -- makes me doubt the sci-fi angle, which we "want" to believe. Tesla fooled Angier, and Angier only realized it later; or Angier simply made stuff up in his diary (I can't remember exactly where it left off). I think there's a plausible explanation for everything involving a so-called "clone".

The one scene I'm really not sure about is when Angier does seem to create the clone (the scene where one Angier shoots another.) He says "I'm not the-!" and we're supposed to take it as the original saying "I'm not the clone!," to the clone. Could this be explained away? Is this simply "misdirection" by the filmmaker?

Ryan | Fri, 12/29/2006 - 5:19pm

If a film needs this much discussion to explain itself it did not succeed.

craigrrr | Mon, 01/08/2007 - 9:52am

i agree with ryan.i saw the movie just today, and the narrator's words in the end just have to mean something, if you're asking we really want to be fooled!
maybe Angier also had several doubles, who he fooled by telling them they would just fall below the stage. (leaving out the watertank)
the scene were you see himself testing the device is just told by him, i guess. so it's just another story.

and of course it was very easy for tesla to buy 30 hat's that look the same as Angier's. two cats too.

so that's why i think the movie was really GREAT. it's the good movies that leave you some space, that make you think, and discuss. and clearly it's not at all clear how the story really was, what was true, what was faked.
that's good entertainment.

bärni | Sat, 01/13/2007 - 3:38pm

Two quick thoughts on the movie:

1. When they finally do confront each other near the end, when Angier gets shot, he does give an explanation of how he did indeed suffer for his art as well. The machine cloned people, leaving the original in the same place. For the trick to suceed the original had to die everynight. That was his torture, not that he had to die, but that another got the applause (a sort of parable to his original transporter trick)

2. For everyone who thought that Borden had cloned himself a twin, heres an interesting thought. He lost his fingers a long time before he invented the transporter trick. If he had cloned himself he wouldn't have had to cut off his 'clone's' fingers as the machine would have duplicated him as is, not as he should be.

Shakram | Sat, 01/13/2007 - 10:25pm

Question: Was I the only one in the world who saw bubbles come out the watertank-clone in the very last shot before the credits? - as in; one clone still alive?
I was not sure about this so I just wanted to check...

Evensteven | Sun, 01/14/2007 - 5:57am

Ok, I liked the movie very much (while recognizing many of the shortcomings pointed out here). One line didn't make sense to me, though. At the end, Angier says something about not knowing each time he did the trick with the machine whether he would be the one to die or not. This seems wrong to me, though... Wouldn't he - that is, the Angier who existed at the start of the trick - always be the one to die?

Jason | Sun, 01/14/2007 - 11:26am

@ Shakran
First point: The torture was that Angier had to kill himself every night. HIS other, cloned self got the applause, however it was still him.

Second point: You have to differentiate between pictures that we see as really happening and what the characters tell each other. The scene with the chopping off the fingers is only told by Bordon. It could be a lie. However, there is the scene with his wife that proves it, where his wound starts bleeding "again".

Other points:
It doesn't matter which Bordon is the father. They both love the child. They even consider themselves as one person really, only difference is that one loves the wife and one the mistress.

In my opinion the last remark by the Cain-Character is only a trick in order to confuse the audience. However, it is a doubt that could have been fed with more hints.
Well, there is one. That is why Bordon sends Angier to Tesla. I think that was only to get Angier out of the way, so that Angier gets this cloning device is a mere coincedence.
What does the film tell us about Tesla's and Bordon's dealings? We can see in one scene that Bordon has some electric stuff hanging above his two doors. For his trick it merely serves as a diversion. I guess, that's what he bought from Tesla. Bordon did not ask for anything else and was not obsessed, that's why Tesla never built him the cloning device. Tesla says to Angier when they sit together that a true transporting machine CAN be built (so he has not done it yet).
I also don't believe that Tesla is a faker, because he warns Angier about the machine he has built for him.

Mief | Tue, 01/30/2007 - 3:26am

i thought i t was a great film... casued discussion much like momento did..

But i dont understand why the clone hugh jackson shot himself... did he instincularly hate himself enough to kill himself every ight? An that he could never trust a clone as they would kill him if he dint kill them first .. seems weird.. and if bordon was a clone it wouldnt make sen really cause he did lose his fingers before he found the telsa and he obviously doesnt believe Hugh jackson at the end of the film till we see the surprise on his face as the glass death tanks are illuminated within the dark to show all the dead clones...i suppose the deahs were mimicking the art of lose within their tricks.... ie losing the birds life at the begining so the birds brother could be the prestitage... Micheal Cane keeps goin on about whether hugh jackson was prepared for getting his "hands dirty". i think it mirrors hugh j ackson selling his soul to the devil black magic kind of approach and finally paying for his debt for using weird ungodly science....

And i suppose bordon really didnt know if his twin did kill hugh jacksons first wife/love.. maybe the twin depicted a good and bad twin angle....?

and when bordon was in prison didnt hugh jackmans clone keep sending him requests for his secret? why did he do thsi if he already knew the tesla secret?

ian | Thu, 02/01/2007 - 1:39pm

All right, all right, good discussion. Complex at first, but pretty simple after thinking for awhile. I thought the movie was well done by the way, and was extremely entertaining - who cares if such a machine could not have been made, or, if so, could have been put to use in much more societal and economically significant ways - such as making food and money out of nothing, etc.

However, there have been some posters that are obviously a bit confused. When Jackman first "clones" himself, he yells out "I'm not the -" meaning, the original gets transported each time. Hence, after the first time, in which the clone kills the original, jackman doesn't have to kill himself again, as his clone immediately falls into the tank and dies. So, he DOEs get the applause and doesnt have to drown, but he still apparently felt scared each time he did it like he could be the one to drown if the machine does a switch on him or transports the clone (he still hadnt done many tests and probably was still scared that the original may not always be transported, maybe it is random). That is why the Michale Kaine character says at the end "Drowning is agony" or something, because he wants Jackman to know that everytime he killed his clone, he was murdering a man in the most tortuous way, by drowning. It also makes the audience feel better about Bale's twin shooting him at the end.

It is also pretty obvious that bale indeed had a twin, not a clone. He becomes transfixed with the "living your life" for a magic trick as the Chinese dude in the beginning, and has planned this trick for awhile. Immediately after seeing the Chinese dude and coming up with the idea, enters his twin disguised as the mustached, mysterious confidante guy (his name escapes me). He has called his twin and they have come up with this elaborate trick - which is why he is OK with starting from the crappiest theaters, because he knows his trick is failproof - both twins are onboard 100%, even it means they have to live half a life, unlike Jackman's drunk double.

Also, saying that Bale commissioned Tesla to create a clone machine so he could do the trick is preposterous. The transporting trick appeared when he was still poor. He wouldn't have had the money to do such a thing. Not hard people.

supafly | Thu, 02/15/2007 - 11:40pm

@ supafly

The question who is the clone and who the original is not quite accurate. The Machine doubles Angier. Both have the same past and rememberence and so on.
After the test one of the Angiers might have considered himself as the "real" Angier. However, that was because he knew that would not tolerate another Angier beside him and therefore a killing is necessary in that scene as also in the theatre every night.
Angier kills doubles himself a hundred times. And for one of them it is suicide every night. That's what Angier refers to when talking to the Bordon at the end. He paid his price for the trick. One of them dies a gruesome death.

The question whether Bordon creates himself a clone through a machine by Tesla or whether he has an identical twin is not yet clarified.
His poverty is an argument for the twin, also is the admiration for the Chinese.
An argument for the clone is the fact that he sends Angier to Tesla. Or is this a mere coincedence. And is Tesla truly surprised that his machine clones instead of transporting? If he had build a machine of this kind for Bordon before, he would not have cloned hundreds of hats, would he.

Mief | Fri, 02/16/2007 - 5:31pm

I got a weird interpretation at the end. I think that a dead Angier at the end was just staged. Angier and his manager could have made a clone before that incident, just to make Bordon(or the twin) feel satisfied for revenge maybe of his twin brother and by that they would be even so Bordon (or the twin) can be with the little girl (i remember when Angier's manager made a visit on his home and said that the child needs her father). The last line "You want to be fooled" as slowly panning the camera from the dead body to the glass chamber would mean that the viewers were actually fooled by the ending, having a thought that Angier really died. The ending of the movie itself was part of the trick, that's the whole point of the movie, that's why the narration of the three acts of magic trick was repeated at the end of the movie, the prestige. You're fooled!

Mark | Tue, 02/20/2007 - 1:15am

Here's the thing about The Prestige...
Ok, it's quite a good movie, I enjoyed it...for the most part that is. What spoilt it for me was the ending. It's a movie that thinks it's too clever for it's own good. What do I mean by this? Well I'll tell you (and this is something that fails to be addressed in anything I've read so far). Why was Borden on trial for murder in the beginning??? Ok, at first we were led to believe that he just stood there watching his great rival drown in the water tank. But later as the story unfolds, we see a more detailed version of that event and witness Borden desperately trying to break the glass to free Angier. Wouldn't the cracked glass stand as believable evidence that he tried to save Angier? Why the big trial?

Another thing that bothers me is Angier's dying words..."it took real courage for me to walk into that machine every night, not knowing if I was going to be the man in the box or the prestige." Surely the man walking into the machine KNOWS he's going to be the man in the box. He knew perfectly well how it all worked. Where was the confusion??? Yeah, i can understand the courage part because it was basically suicide, but why didn't he know where he was going to end up?

And why where there all those duplicated water tanks under the stage in the closing shot? Wouldn't just one be enough...drown man,..empty tank...replace for the next performance. Who wants all those tanks lying around with dead clones in them ready for anyone who works in the theatre to find???...which surely the police must have noticed when they were called there to arrest Borden. It just doesn't make any sense. Then we hear Michael Caine's closing line trying to bluff the audience into thinking that they've been duped in some way...WTF???
Just how were we duped?
That ending was a mess and the director should've re-shot the whole thing so that it actually made sense instead of trying to con us that it was so brilliant it was just wayyyyy over the heads of the philistines who didn't get it. How unethical to have left a lot of people thinking..."I don't get it...I must be stupid. But rather than admit I'm stupid, I'll go along with all the people who're saying how brilliant it was so that I'll appear intelligent." A case of the Emperor's New Clothes I think.
If there was a dupe employed in that ending, it was in making a large percentage of the audience believe that it made sense.

Anyone remember Jeepers Creepers 1? Boy, if ever a movie tried to bluff an audience with a "hey this is an ending that's just waaaaaayyy over YOUR head, stupid," that was IT. Don't believe the hype folks.
Directors!!....keep it real please and give your audiences some credit FFS.

holden caulfield | Tue, 02/20/2007 - 11:18am

Oh, and one more thing...
to address one or two issues posted by others.

If the cloning machine did pop out the clone in a different location randomly...why the hell wasn't it mentioned in the movie? Like it would ruin the story even a little! But if this little (albiet highly significant) detail is omitted from the storyline it only leaves the audience hoplessly scratching their heads supposing this, or supposing that. Ludicrous!
What's the point of that???

Secondly, there is NO evidence that the first clone (shot by Angier) is the original Angier transported to the other side of the room. One poster says that the newly appeared form yells out, "I'm not the..." suggesting that the newly appeared form of Angier is the original. That's crap. Any clone made by Angier has all Angier's memories and so naturally enough would assume it was the real Angier. Why wouldn't it???
Again...the director leaves us scrambling to make sense of his expensive little mess. Unforgivable, especially as the movie was cool right up until it feebly began trying to explain itself. My guess is that they had a lot of high ideas that looked good on paper in the beginning but which they totally mangled in the conclusion, obviously finding it impossible to contain themselves from leaping forward to their spectacular "prestige" moment.

Just a thought...but wouldn't Angier place the gun where he KNEW he'd be after the machine did it's thing, so that he could have the jump on the clone? And, even so, wouldn't the clone, (having all the original Angier's memories) KNOW he was going to be shot by the original (standing beside the gun) and have attempted to bolt a damn site faster????
So many holes in this movie, when you look at it.

And Angier DID NOT create a load of clones beforehand so's he could go off and do other things either. Think about it. Every clone is identical to him in every way. You can't expect that a clone would value his life any less than the person who it was cloned from. I think they'd all want to stay alive too.

The original Angier died the first time he performed that trick live on stage. He effectively committed suicide by drowning in order to experience the joy of the applause though his newly formed clone....who, in turn would also commit suicide the following time, and so on...

I applaud this movie for what it tried to do, but alternatively want to kick it's ass and stick needles in it's eyes for making a load of fancy promises it failed to keep.

holden caulfield | Tue, 02/20/2007 - 3:08pm

Just one thought i think its a little nuts to say that borden is a more ethical magician than angier. He killed angiers wife,cripples him, and evenutally kills him all in the name of magic and all he lost was 2 fingers.Makes a little more sense for angier to be nutzo and obsessed due to the fact that he lost his wife at the hands of his friend and his friend had no answer for him to what actually happened. All the reviews are great and i personally loved the movie.

chris | Thu, 02/22/2007 - 12:10pm

I believe both Angiers are originals (or clones, depends on how you look at it :P).

In the scene when he performs his first "cloning", the transported Angier proclaims "I’m not the -(clone)", so he clearly believes he's the original. Meanwhile, the Angier left standing in the machine instantly shoots the other, suggesting he believes he's also the original. Instead of thinking of it as cloning, where there is an original and a replica, think of it as creating two instances of one person.

Every time he performs the trick, the one drowning is thinking, "something has gone wrong because I'm drowning even though I survived the last x performances", while the transported one is thinking, "I made it again."

Nats | Thu, 02/22/2007 - 9:51pm

Nats, I agree almost entirely. But the Angier standing in the machine must surely be thinking that it´s his actual body that´s going to drop into the tank...which it inevitably does. So it comes as no surprise to the Angier in the tank that he´s drowning, plus he also knows that his new clone has just appeared on the other side of the theatre and is taking his bows etc. The new clone must be thinking ¨Thank God that damn machine is still working! I live on to see another day while the other me drowns in that tank under the stage,...but tomorrow night is my turn to die, for my sins.¨...something like that anyway. But you have to agree that the movie failed to live up to it´s responsibilities by filling in the blanks. There really is no need for all this speculation. We´re all effectively re-writing the ending of this movie as it should have been...and we ain´t gettin´paid for it.

Yeah, yeah...I hear all those people harping on about it being great to have movies that ¨stretch¨ it´s audiences blah blah...but unfortunately the ending of this movie doesn´t fit into that category. It´s just a messy conclusion that´s open to waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay too much speculation.

Donnie Darko? Cool. That was a movie. Stretched it´s audiences by offering two different interpretations. Young man experiences time travel, or young schizo fails to take medication and goes whacko. Take your pick, both versions hold water. But some stories demand to have the blanks filled in or all you´re left with is an audience scratching their noggins. And that´s just the percentage of those audiences that actually have enough grey matter in their noggins to know they´ve been sold short. The rest are going, ¨WOW, what a great movie!¨, then quickly moving on to the special effects
and the (SOOOOOOOOOOO over-rated) Scarlet Johanson´s heaving busom. What was she doing in that movie anyway???? I´m sorry everyone, but the girl just can´t act. I´ve given her every chance, I really have, but c´mon...Dita Von Teese could´ve filled that role more adequately that little Scarlet. She´s second rate eye candy and her limited ¨flavour of the month¨ appeal is close to it´s expiry date...hello ¨made for tv¨ movie roles like ¨Please don´t beat my children¨or ¨Daddy´s just gone out for some cigarettes kids¨.

Outta here.

holden caulfield | Tue, 02/27/2007 - 6:35am

I wondered why when they were preparing to hang Fallon? or Borden?
someone was suiting him up with heavy leather leggings a belt and
possibly a harness that would support weight if attached to a rope.
This of course would have absorbed whiplash strain caused by his dropping through the trap door. Then a helper could have removed the harness and set him free. His last word to one of the guards; "Watch Closely"

Dan | Tue, 02/27/2007 - 6:37pm

Why would anyone go as far to think that Borden used Tesla's machine to duplicate himself? If that was the case Tesla would perfected the machine at his first go at it for Angier. Not so? There is no way to tell whether the original is transported or remains within the machine. No way! What we are sure of is that the original died (if the clone is outside the machine the original drowned, and the other scenario he got shot) and the show was carried on by a clone. Remember a second clone was already created and killed before the first performance (When Angier first demonstrated it to the two men)which I believe to be the original Angier shown in the tank at the end of the movie. (That is of course provided that the original stays in the machine) And unlike some people I only saw one tank at the end. I may have to watch it a second time. I agree with crazymonks comments.

Jesse | Wed, 02/28/2007 - 7:11pm

I think when Borden says to the guard, "Watch closely," it's just a reference to when he earlier told that guard that some day he might say, "watch closely," and then escape from right under his eyes. It was just to get under the guard's skin. He knew he wouldn't be able to escape, or he wouldn't have told the twin that he'd have to live for both of them.

Torgen | Thu, 03/01/2007 - 9:34am

There is one question that I've been struggling with, and maybe someone can shed some light on it. It was stated originally that when "Angier performs his trick, he creates an exact duplicate of himself which he kills off beneath the stage." I don't follow this. It appears as though Angier is actually killing himself and his duplicate is being transported to the balcony. Which is why he said it took great courage to step into that machine every night.

In the scene where we first see Angier use the machine, is it his duplicate that is shot, or does the duplicate shoot the originally Angier? This was never elaborated on.

Either way, I suppose the original Angier is dead - whether it was due to being shot by his duplicate, or drowning himself to do the trick for the first time.

Aaron | Fri, 03/02/2007 - 6:52pm

After looking for an answer to my question, I'll say that Nats (53) got it. That makes complete sense.

"Every time he performs the trick, the one drowning is thinking, “something has gone wrong because I’m drowning even though I survived the last x performances”, while the transported one is thinking, “I made it again.”

Thank you and bravo, Nats. The duplicate must believe he is the original.

Also, concerning the "bubble in the tank at the end of the movie" question. The bubble comes from the bottom of the tank. I don't think it means anything.

Aaron | Fri, 03/02/2007 - 7:13pm

Okay well i've got a question then. If Angier would duplicate himself every time that he did his trick, would that not mean that he also killed himself and let his duplications live his life? It only makes sense, after all, he performs his act, duplicates himself, kills himself and his duplication takes the bow. How else would this make sense? He must have sacrificed himself for eack show.

Matt | Sat, 03/03/2007 - 10:15pm

It can not be a cloning device and heres why

On the night Borden is framed..He sneaks down behind/under stag, where he watches "Angier" fall into the tank. Now, if the Prestige was truely a cloning device then that would mean a cloned Angier would have re-appeared somewhere in the audience( as he did every night). Here is why you have to "look closely" If Angier reappears in the audience, how could he be dead in the tank? The audience could merely say " But he reappeared on the balcony" -- Evidence that Borden did not kill Angier..

Now you can argue that The Prestige did clone another Angier, and that cloned Angier chose not to reappear, but hide as part of the plan/framing. But I highly doubt a cloning machine could be so sophisticated as to allow the clones to choose where and how they reappear, let alone have a memory.

Finally, listen closely. When Borden goes understage and finds Angier drowing, there is a time of silence. We never hear the audience applause, Angier never reappears. Not a cloning device.

Who dies in the tank? Root.

The Ending--- Angier tells Borden/twin that the Prestige was a cloning device in order to keep his trick "better." After all the only proof that The Prestige is a cloning device, is from Angiers confession to Borden at his dying moments ( except for when the hats and cats appear in the yard behind telsas lab, but telsa and his assistant could have easily placed them there..just to make another note, Telsa does tell Angier to destroy the machine, because it is dangerous. But if you remember, Telsa also tells Angier in the beginning that obsession is a dangerous thing, so was Telsa referring to Angiers obession or the actual machine).
Finally, it is Michael Kane's character that makes the ending come together.
1. He lets Borden/twin in the room, to kill Angier.
2. He places the tank ( which I believe has the dead Root) at the exit,so as Borden is leaving he can see the tank and believe The Prestige did really clone. This way Michael Kane has served both magicians, they both win. Borden kills Angier and Angier gets his "magic trick"

Lucy | Sun, 03/04/2007 - 3:12am

Lucy both you and Nats are pretty deep, and I mean deep. But I'll have to disagree with you on some things.
1. "But I highly doubt a cloning machine could be so sophisticated as to allow the clones to choose where and how they reappear, let alone have a memory."
Well it's a cloning machine, it's already sophisticated. Also Tesla wasn't aware the hats were appearing way outside. And when he did, he made a comment about ajusting it. So you can determine the range at which you appear. When angier first used it he appeared close. His first performance he was much farther away.

2. "When Borden goes understage and finds Angier drowning, there is a time of silence. We never hear the audience applause, Angier never reappears. Not a cloning device."
Why would Angier appear where the audience can see him? The objective is to frame Borden for his (clone's)death.

Nats ---- "Creating two instances of the same person" this would mean the surviving angier would always think he is the original, in which case the trick is working perfectly. So why then say he doen't know whether he would be in the tank or on the stage if it's been successful every time?

Here's another posiblility. In the first two instances we were led to believe that the original remained inside the machine. 1) The hat never moved
2) The cat was chained to the floor.
Angier, like us all, believed the original stayed in the machine.(Hence he place the gun right beside the machine) Until he performed the trick by himself did he realize it was the other way around. (too late for the original, one has to die) Now the clone understood and found the most efficient way to dispose of his duplicate. Instead of having to find him and kill him.
As for his reaction when drowning. The duplicate clone will believe he is the original. And for him not knowing whether he would be in the tank or on the stage. Maybe he didn't have any confidence in the machine. It would be hard to stand on a trap door to your death, without having such thoughts.

Jesse | Sun, 03/04/2007 - 10:29pm

No, it is just as Nats says.
There is no difference between the original and the clone. That's what makes the movie kind of SciFi. Angier is duplicated. Both think they are the original. Both have the same memory. But instead of realizing that they are now two identical Angier, they both claim to be the original. They make the mistake themselves. There is no true original really.
The only difference between the two Angiers is that one is transported and the other stayed in the machine.

Mief | Mon, 03/05/2007 - 4:16am

An interesting point of view. Deep indeed. But is more solid than most other views. But again the surviving Angier would believe he's been killing his clones, in which case the act was always a success. But his last words at the end suggests that he could have ended up either in the tank or on the stage. How do you explain this?

jesse | Mon, 03/05/2007 - 11:44am

Jeez! Lucy has clearly been smoking crack or has been watching a different movie.

Lucy,...first of all, the machine isn´t called ¨the prestige¨. That´s the term given to the final stage of each magic trick....explained at the very beginning of the movie.
And the machine does ACTUALLY clone people luv.
Where´s my evidence for this???.....ummmmmmmmmmm
let me seeeeeeeeee..............hmmmmmmmmmmm.........
oh!!! How ´bout when Angier clones himself and then shoots the clone?????

Stay with me people.......

I´ve said it all before....check my earlier posts....
and I´ll say it again....

The surviving Angier, at the end of each trick, has all the memories of every other Angier before him (accept the memory of drowning because the new one is always created just before this happens.)
Each NEW Angier KNOWS he has to step into the machine next time around, pop out a NEW clone, and drop into the water tank below the stage...effectively committing suicide. It´s not complicated ffs.

What isn´t made clear in the movie is whether the machine transports the original or the clone, to a new position. However, it is more likely to ¨assume¨ that it´s the clone that is transported. I think the director ¨assumed¨ this and also ¨assumed¨ that the audience ¨assumed¨ this too and therefore failed to bother explaining it. Folks, The short comings of a badly directed ending are unworthy of debate.
Just be happy knowing that it´s not your fault that it doesn´t make sense....and those of you who ¨think¨ that it all adds up to make wonderful, challenging, intelligent entertainment,....well just do me a favour and try to refrain from muddying the waters for people who are close to understanding that it´s just a movie that fails to deliver what it promises and finally stop beating themselves up over not being able to make all the pieces fit.



holden caulfield | Wed, 03/07/2007 - 8:41am

Holden says

"It’s a movie that thinks it’s too clever for it’s own good. What do I mean by this? Well I’ll tell you (and this is something that fails to be addressed in anything I’ve read so far)."

Maybe you oughtta write your own movie. You seem pretty smug in how so much clever you are than the rest of the readers. And did you say you were "outta here" like you're somehow frustrated with imparting your great wisdom on the po' stoopid folk who just don't get it? It's a movie. Get over it.

dontbeadic | Fri, 03/09/2007 - 10:00pm

Now let me explain Holden to you dontbeadic. You see he himself doesn't have things figured out. He keeps reading these comments just like everyone else hoping to get some clarity. But unlike the rest of us, when he doesn't get an answer satisfying enough he becomes frustrated. And attacks the movie.

I do believe that some people are making the movie way more complicated than it is though. I still have to find time to give it a second viewing, I think things will be much clearer then.

Jesse | Sat, 03/10/2007 - 1:10am

"And the machine does ACTUALLY clone people luv.
Where´s my evidence for this???…..ummmmmmmmmmm
let me seeeeeeeeee…………..hmmmmmmmmmmm………
oh!!! How ´bout when Angier clones himself and then shoots the clone?????"

How do you know he shot a "clone" in that scene?
Or that it even died?

aidave | Sun, 03/11/2007 - 5:00pm

Movies don’t have to make logical sense. But the characters should act according to their character. Recall the scene in which Angier falls into the pit below the stage while Root basks in the glow of the audience’s applause. Angier the showman hated being the one left out, but accepted it because Root could not carry out the trick.

Angier had no need to subject himself to that experience again when the perfected the Transported Man trick. He could make certain that the duplicate, not he, was the one who fell through the trap door and into the tank.

Not convinced? Before Angier creates the first clone, he places a gun nearby. Why? To kill the duplicate, of course. Thus, to protect his new "trick" he demonstrates to us that he is willing to kill. What happens next? Angier demonstrates the trick to get his big gig. One of two things must be true. Either the real Angier was on stage for the demonstration, or it was a duplicate. If it was the real Angier, are we to believe that he willingly committed suicide by allowing himself to be drowned in the tank that he put under the stage? That makes no sense for the character. So, a duplicate was on the stage. And the real Angier put a tank below the trap door to take care of the duplicate.

Not convinced? Remember the look of surprise on the face of the guy who fell into the tank when Borden went below the stage. Sort of like he did not expect it to happen. Angier would not have been surprised; he put the tank there.

Would Angier - the showman who would never sacrifice for the sake of his art - kill himself just to pull off the trick. No, he was counting on Borden going below stage so he could frame him for his murder. It would have been a pointless way to exact revenge if he was not going to be around to enjoy its success. Also, although we never saw it, we know the second Angier (the real Angier) did not magically reappear to the audience after the first Angier (the duplicate) fell into the tank. He knew Borden was below stage and in position to take the fall for his murder.

So, there are only two plausible explanations. First, the Tesla machine on stage was a fake. Angier created the duplicate before the show using the real Tesla machine. The duplicate appeared on stage to perform the trick, unaware of the tank below the stage. Angier convinced the duplicate that the trick was a variation on the original Transported Man trick and that he would fall into a big pillow. Or ... the real Tesla machine was on stage and the real Angier was projected out to reappear elsewhere with the newly created duplicate falling through the trap door.

I prefer the first explanation. When Angier tested the Tesla machine for the first time, the duplicate appeared just a few feet away. Angier did not have the technical know-how to adjust the machine so it would project him further away and, presumably, to a very specific spot in the theater.

One final aspect convinces me that the first explanation is correct. At the end of the movie, when Borden shoots Angier, Angier appears to be greatly surprised. Only then does he make the connection between Fallon and Borden. Since Angier believed Tesla had made a machine for Borden, he believed Borden had been making duplicates of himself to perform his trick. Angier assumed that, like himself, Borden would not want his duplicate running around and so Angier expected that Borden would have killed off his “duplicates.”

Majic | Tue, 03/13/2007 - 12:16pm


Why do you have so much faith in a movie that clearly no two people can seem to agree on what was happening
in the storyline?
Don´t you think the fact that no one can agree on how the story unfolded speaks volumes?

I hear people coming up with so many different ¨theories¨ as to what the director intended us to know and they´re becoming more and more far fetched by the day. What imaginations!! In movie making that´s just an insane way to leave your audience......making up their own versions of events!!...Well, in this type of movie, anyway.

This wasn´t some deep, introverted, mentally challenging art movie, where you´d expect to be left wondering what was going´s a story about two rival magicians for God´s sake (ok 3 magicians counting Borden´s twin.) There´s no excuse for so many gaping holes.

And in case some people missed it...I did begin my posts by pointing out that I enjoyed the movie (up to a point) and admired what it ¨tried¨ to do. My whole point is that it....just....doesn´t....make....sense, not the way it was supposed to. Watch it as many times as you like!! You think I haven´t? I´m suggesting that people stop trying to make sense of it and just admit that the director didn´t actually intend to baffle his audience as much as he clearly has, (judging by the size of this thread of posts).

Look, it´s not the first movie in history to get ahead of itself and it won´t be the last, and there can be many, many reasons behind the scenes that contribute to the movie not adding up and making sense. All I´m suggesting is that people stop beating themselves up over what is clearly flawed movie making.

And like I mentioned before,...can ANYone come up with a ¨theory¨ why Borden was on trial for murder when all the evidence pointed to him clearly trying desperately to save angier in the water tank...remember him smashing at the glass trying to free him?? Pretty strong evidence I would think, to even the most docile of policeman.....and surely an outragious fact to be ommitted in court in Borden´s defence!!

holden caulfield | Wed, 03/14/2007 - 10:20am

Oh and Jesse...

Of course I don´t have the movie ¨figured out¨. NO ONE has the movie figured out.
This has been my whole point all along.

Jeez, I´m already (literally) spelling it out...whadyi have to do????.....(sigh)

holden caulfield | Wed, 03/14/2007 - 10:31am

I think i have to admit after seeing the prestige 5 times now that holden does have a point. I´ve been trying to fill in the unexplained events and I´ve discussed it with anyone I meet whos seen it and you know what? I still don´t have any good answers. Maybe it is a little patchy in places where it shouldnt be. Hell, all I know is that I´m tired trying to make it all flow in a way that I think a story should flow. I keep thinking i´ts just me and that I can´t get my head around all the flashbacks etc but after 5 viewings and giving it my undivided attention it still begs for many questions to be answered. Can anyone else answer all the questions it poses cos I sure can´t and i´m through trying.

*doobie* | Thu, 03/15/2007 - 4:27am

I have been watching almost all my life and I have to say that The Prestige was a disappointment. Like so many other supernatural stories that are popular in the US, it lets realists like me down. The clone machine is ridiculous. Anyone who enjoys the 'science fiction' and writes that it's a movie so anything goes, has a proclivity towards fantasy and supernatural powers, etc. And that would be okay if this was a sci-fi movie through and through (ie BladeRunner, I, Robot, 2001, even Star Wars). However, this movie makes the viewer think that it's a movie about rival magicians with hidden secrets and it's a legitimate drama that is realistically-based until this absurd cloning machine comes onto the scene. This kind of fantastical b.s. only promotes other supernatural beliefs - UFOs, pretty much every major religion, etc, which does a disservice to humanity in that it prevents people from seeing the truth (for example, thinking - my community is in poverty, we need to do something about it vs. oh, if i pray real hard, maybe things will get better, or maybe someone will make a magic machine and everthing will be alright). In my view, if you liked the cloning machine part of the movie, you're the type person who needs to believe in supernatural powers (which IS a delusion just as believing in God is) to avoid facing the truth and reality of the world around you. The more sci-fi movies that come out and are preferred over realistic movies, the more it becomes obvious the US citizens are discontent with their real lives. Anyhow, The Illusionist was a much more satisfying movie for me to watch as there was no ferry-tale b.s. I do think there's some room for comic books, sci-fi movies, etc (in small doses) in art and in our communities (esp for children as they have magical beliefs during early childhood and into adolescence) but talk to anyone who is obsessed with such things and you'll see that they're very unhealthy psychologically- often have schizoid personality disorder. And this movie, Prestige, let me down b/c it had me hoping it wasn't going to involve fake supernatural events. If I wanted to see a movie like that, I'd go looking for it. -Dr. JGC

Jeff | Fri, 03/16/2007 - 10:35pm

Has anyone else noticed the role of Michael Cane's character? He is the narrator, the voice that is explaining magic to us. He is the one who is so concerned with the machine being destroyed. He is the one who also watches the bodies being halled off in the tanks at the same time Bale's character does. He nods to Bale as he goes in to kill Jackman. He gives Bale his child back after Jackman is dead. He is an engineer who builds things and also brings in the major talent booker who is not as surprised by cloning as he should be and even comments that he hasn't seen it in years. At the very start of the film he knows Bale and covers up questions about Bale's past very quickly. This interpretation brings a whole new level of respect for the film to me.

Sir K | Sat, 03/17/2007 - 7:55pm

ok, heres what i think actually happened...

Horden is a twin right from the beginning (the chinese man is the giveaway for that, as well as the not knowing which knot he tied, it was his twin!), the clone isnt a clone as much as an exact duplicate which THINKS its the real one (for all intents and purposes it is), Angier knows this the first time b4 he uses it (based on tesla telling him they are all the same hat), so he puts a gun next to the machine (it doesnt matter which one dies they are both him), and just shoots him to be rid of the double.He avoids issues with every subsequent clone by drowning them instantly. The remaining living tangier never has the memory of drowning cloned because the drowned clone never gets into the machine twice (given by caines character telling him about the sailor)

At the end of the movie, one of the Horden twins is dead, and so is angiers (no living angiers are left)

Caines character is more problematic for me, as he seems to know about the twin Hordens right from the start, i think he works out what the machine does by the blind stagehands, ie- angiers found one blind guy and cloned him so he wouldnt know he had been cloned a few times, also solves the sticky prospect of them knowing about the bodies of the angiers clones in the tanks.

Tesla knows what angiers wants from him , as his assistant knows who angiers is the first time he sees him (the scene at the exposition where horden is with teslas OTHER machine when angiers shows up), horden may have just been there to get some "showy" add-ons for his trick, like the girl assistant said she knew how to do, ie, she sent him to tesla, and eventually tesla actually figured out how to do it for real (kinda by accident, but he was actually trying to make the machine work)

There are a few things that need clearing up, but caines character nodding to "fallon" on his way out of the disused theatre isn't one of them, at that point bale is disguised as fallon, he knew about the twins from the start. (covered both ways of explaining it whether or not he knew about the twins, but isnt neccesary for this to work out)
And his commentary at the end of the film is just that the trick was always what he said it was, horden had a double...a twin!

maybe.... lol, i dont know!!!!!

exz | Sun, 03/18/2007 - 9:28am

there are a couple of more points to my interpretation. when Bale's character approaches the drunken Jackman's double in the bar, he mentions how "once this bloke was incorporated into the act, he had complete control". this leads to the obvious story arc, but it would also be very clever if Bale's character (in the bar) was actually the clone hinting of how took over in his partnership (again Caine's character says something interesting after the drunk ruins the act--"it normally takes them longer to turn"). This would make a lot of sense given the few hints of how one side of Bale was inhuman (fight w/ wife at dinner), he tied the dangerous knot (which Caine yelled at him about), and how Caines character expressed hostility at the funeral (he lost control of Bale clone and decided to use Jackman)(Caine even buries one of them in the ground later). Also, the character who first involves the viewer w/ Telsa is Caine when he suggests Jackman go check it out. I might be stretching, but to me at least it is a very cool way to think of the film. I skipped through the movie to only view Caine's parts, and it is very compelling when you really analyze his dialogue and interactions as a whole (not to mention that his is the last voice offering the taunt to figure it all out). that's all I got.

Sir K | Sun, 03/18/2007 - 7:40pm

Y´know, when people begin throwing in their two cents worth on this movie with the words, ¨here´s what I think happened...¨ I would suggest to those people that they take the dvd back to the store and demand a refund. The greatest trick this movie pulled off was getting people to buy it in the first place.

Ok Mr Michael Caine....I think some of us are beginning to ¨get it¨ was horse shit dressed up, come to think of it....I dunno really...period drama???....sci fi???....

All I can do now is count the many gaping holes in this movie and content myself that there are no answers.
Hey! Maybe THAT was the whole point!!???...and we all missed it!!....Borden losing his two fingers!!......
it was a symbolic, ironic reference to what I, and probably a shitload of other people are doing right now.....sticking two fingers up at this huge, disappointing failure of a movie........ya think????

Holden Caulfield | Tue, 03/20/2007 - 3:43am

I just saw this movie on dvd, and I enjoyed it for the most part, with the ending posing a COLOSSUS challenge to my logical reasoning and common sense. A good movie can NOT have it both ways!!! One way trying to lure you in the plot by appealing to your inequisitive curious part of your brain wondering how the magical acts are done. Unfortunately, for the movie makers, this assumes by default that we live in a "simple, solid world" that follows strict physical laws.
And another way is to try to use ludicrous, I don't know what you are smoking, science fiction to get away with it. So there are, in my opinion, two obvious ways to 'rationalize' the ending, depending on what you want to believe, or not:
(1) My pick: Tesla did not invent a cloning machine because such machine can not exist and work in this universe as it was pictured in the movie to say the least. Tesla needed the money, specially coming from a wealthy fool, so he just put the hats there to fool Angiers and get his money. Angiers, having realized the machine does not work or that he is too stupid to operate it, contacts his double "Root" and plans for the teleportation trick. Now, why does he then proceed to kill the double on the same night Fallon plans to visit? Well, maybe he planned the murder anyway to keep his share of the money, Angier would have planned for this on the last night. It wouldn't have been considered a murder, just a magic trick that went terribly wrong. Angier would then just disappear and would be considered legally dead.
As for Fallon, he tried to resist going after Angier honoring his brother's request, but couldn't resist on the last night, so it was a mere coincidence that Fallon got involved. But then he got accused of killing what is believed to be Angier.
This is not perfect. As the last shot reveals at least two bodies in the containers. Only one body is needed, which is that of the double, Root. As for the recollection of Angier killing his copy, I do not think it's a viable hole. It was Angier telling this story with no other witnesses. He could have been just lying to conceal his stupidity and proving that he was doing some 'real' magic.

(2)The other possibility, there was a cloning machine and that the movie has sort of a sci-fi component. Most probable this was the intended choice for Nolan. In such case Angier had to kill his clone on evey single night. Problem with this route though, is that it makes the movie much less believable. Much much less.

M. Badawy | Tue, 03/20/2007 - 11:59pm

I have one major problem with this movie. Let's suppose that it was possible to have a cloning machine. When he cloned himself the clone is identical but still has separate identity since you can't live in two bodies at once. When he performs his trick, the clone appears on the balcony, therefore he is committing suicide in order to let his clone live and complete the trick. Any thoughts on this?

j-l | Sat, 03/24/2007 - 11:01am

Well put "M. Badawy"..I agree with your first explanation.
and "Holden" the more I read your blogs, the more I realize why you chose your name..

Lucy | Sun, 03/25/2007 - 12:19pm

Aw c´mon Lucy...lighten up will ya? I know I had a pop at you a while ago and I´m sorry, I really am... but hey, what can I say, I was having a bad day. I know that´s a pathetic excuse and all, so I´m slugging myself in the gut repeatedly to compensate.
Ouch!, I think I broke a goddam rib.

Holden Caulfield | Mon, 03/26/2007 - 3:46am

well, i agree (for what it's worth) with holden for the most part (mostly in threads 50 and 51). but i disagree that the movie does not make sense. as jesse points out in thread 62 angier expects that if the machine fails and creates a double then he would have to kill the clone (the original would be left in the machine because "1) The hat never moved 2) The cat was chained to the floor.") it makes sense that tesla doesn't have a chance to "fix" the machine because of the attack by edison's men. so, since the macine couldn't transport, angier, out of his obsession to be viewed as a better magician than borden, decides that he would have to commit suicide (and as was pointed out, die the same death as his wife) and figures to eventually frame bordman (even if it took a hundred acts), with michael cain's charecters help (remember, he stops bordman from rescuing the angier clone). and since the stage hands were blind, there weren't any witnesses other than cain. in this way he hopes to put an end to the cloning (and ultimately the feud between the "two" magicians) and is glad to see the remaining bordman twin kill off the last clone (and i agree that the clone thinks it is the original, why would it think otherwise?). also, it's obvious that there was always a bordman twin because bordman states very early on that he has a trick that he is saving for the right time and, as was pointed out earlier, they were willing to play out their role as the chinese magician was (and this is why one night he tied the knot one way and the next another). all in all a good movie, thought provoking and great insight into some of the illusions magicians use.

finn mcool | Tue, 03/27/2007 - 5:08pm

Hey Finn,...Cad é mar tá tú?

You seem like an intelligent guy...
Can you offer any insight into why (Sir) Michael Caine says that line at the end?....y´know, the one that implies that us the audience might have missed something...
I just hate that kind of smartass ending....but I´m wondering just what the hell it is that I´m supposed to have missed.
I watched the Special Features on the dvd and heard Michael Caine say that the whole movie was put together in the form of a magic trick, complete with it´s own
¨prestige¨ ending. But where exactly was whole ¨taa daaa¨ bit supposed to be?

Holden Caulfield | Wed, 03/28/2007 - 1:31am

Go maith, go raibh maith agat. Agus tú féin?

i think he was putting it out there that regardless that borden had a twin and angier had used science to create a double that in life we want to be more like bordens little girl and just accept the trick as magic and be amazed rather than peek behind the curtain and find that it is all just a sham, just my "maybe" we all have this one pretty well figured!

finn mcool | Wed, 03/28/2007 - 3:23am

(Finn,....Tá me go maith.)

Yeah, I think you´ve hit the nail on the head.
Still, it won´t stop me from watching the movie again,
just to see if I can manage to get a better handle on it. I´m no Forest Gump or whatever, but I hate having to struggle through certain parts of a movie though. So frustrating. It´s a storyteller´s job to tell a tale and have it perceived to be what it is, not have the listeners debate what they ¨suppose¨ it to be. Well, that´s my opinion anyway.
Oh btw, I was reminded recently of that old Oliver Reed movie ¨Hannibal Brooks¨, you remember it? Goddam it!....what was the elephant called?????

Holden Caulfield | Wed, 03/28/2007 - 8:55am

your right, i like it when the storyline is coherent, but i love twist endings, where nothing was like what it seemed. like the french movie "he loves me, he loves me not", one of the best twist plots ever! by the way, i think the elephants name was lucy...

finn mcool | Thu, 03/29/2007 - 3:57am

(oh my gosh, am I in the doghouse with that girl Lucy again?,....darn it, I hope she doesn´t think I was implying anything....I just walk right into ´em don´t I!)

(Ahem) anyway....I like a good surprise ending myself, but I find that I can only watch those sort of movies a few times before I get bored with, The Sixth Sense, Memento, The Usual Suspects. The first viewing is nearly always the best, the second viewing I´m looking out for all the clues I missed in the first viewing, but from there on those movies take a serious nose-dive towards boredomsville for me. If the whole movie hangs on the twist then once I´m expecting it I kinda lose interest. My fav movies are true Vertigo, Blade Runner, Betty Blue, Roman Holiday, Angels with Dirty Faces, Cool Hand Luke, The Quiet Man, A Matter of Life and Death, Ed Wood, Pulp Fiction, It´s a Wonderful, my list is long but distinguished. I don´t know how many times I´ve watched these movies but I never tire of any of ´em.

Holden Caulfield | Thu, 03/29/2007 - 6:43am

I think people are missing the point about "is it the original that's transported or is it the clone", and Angier's comment about at the end about how it took courage to step into the machine each night.

I think that Nat (#53) had it right in that the machine creates a 'photocopy' in which whichever one really is copied has to way to tell if they're the original or the copy - so to all intents and purposes the copy *is* the original. I think Angiers worked that out after the first time that he tested the machine and one of his selves was shot. Whether that was the root Angiers or the copy was irrelevant, because the copy is identical to the original, right down to the belief that he is the original and not the copy.

So when he says it takes courage to step in to the machine, it's because he knows that one way or another "he" will die - and even if it's a physical copy of himself that dies (ie it's the copy that goes into the tank) it will still be a person who believes with all his heart that he is the original and "oh no I'm drowning, something went wrong."

Cap'n Arrr | Fri, 04/13/2007 - 12:58am

Cap´n Arrr -

After watching this movie 8,752 times, I think it´s now become clear that the person actually standing in the cloning machine remains standing in that spot while the machine does it´s´s the ¨copy¨ that gets transported elsewhere. This is reinforced by the whole hats n cats Tesla experiments, and the incident where the original Angier shoots his clone.

However, one of the reasons why I was drawn into this sea of confusion is Angier´s (in my opinion) pointless and confusing remark about ¨now knowing if ¨I¨ was going to be the man in the water tank or the prestige¨.

Let me explain why Angier´s remark is confusing....

After all Tesla´s experiments (which Angier witnessed) and HIS OWN goddam experiments, he goddam well KNEW where HE was going to end up.....HE was going to end up in the water tank....he knows how it all works...he´s tested it. When he falls into the tank, he´s not thinking ¨oh my God, something went wrong¨,...he´s thinking...¨c´est la vie old chap...I pushed the goddam button and down I went, as planned...glub glub...and that goddam clone of mine is taking my applause at the other end of the theatre...glub glub...oh the price I pay for greatness!...choke flubbalub¨.

The clone is thinking, ¨Whayheyyyy!!! minute I was standing in that machine, and now I´m waaayyyyy over here....I must be the newly formed clone!...gosh, golly! I know this, because I know how the machine works, and the person I was cloned from is currently gagging in a locked water tank under the stage.¨

You see? It´s all clear...up until Angier says that stooooopid, pointless line about not knowing if he was going to be the man in the tank or the prestige. It suggests that after all the experiments he´s done to find out how it all works...he STILL doesn´t know!!???

This is bad scriptwriting and bad continuation. One line should not blatantly contradict what was clearly shown to us earlier in the movie goddamit.

BTW, I´ve STILL got no attempts to explain why Borden was on trial for murder in the first place, when he clearly did all he could to free Angier from the water tank. He really made a fair attempt to smash that glass, which is all anybody could´ve done in that situation,....but lo and behold, he´s on trial for murder!, and no mention of the badly cracked glass in court!!!....maybe it was just to facilitate the storyline moving along methinks (hmmm, not very well thought out).

I´m watching out for explanation attempts beginning with ¨maybe....¨

Uh uh, sorry no way ¨maybe¨ doesn´t cut it and neither do personal versions of what some people fantasise might or might not have happened. Please stick to clear facts that were actually in the movie.

Holden Caulfield | Fri, 04/13/2007 - 4:11am

Hey, can I play too? For all it's worth, here's my stab at it. But keep in mind I've only seen it once, at 3am, and about a month ago. I'm sure the finer points have escaped me.

1) Borden & Fallon are twins, not clones (clues were the Chinese guy's trick, the boy who said "that's his brother," the near-meltdown when one was buried alive – “I almost lost something precious”)

2) The death of Angier’s wife was accidental. Although sharing one life, the Borden twins do have their own distinctive traits. One is very sharp, very clever, and more even-headed. The other is probably not as skilled plus more passionate and impulsive. It shows in their choice of women too: one shy & reserved and the other a flamboyant stage girl (btw Holden, you are soo right about Johanssen being soo overrated!)

While trying to figure out Angier’s final trick, Borden yells at Fallon, “Why can’t you out-think him?” I was a little slow on the uptake (yeah, I didn’t figure out the twin thing until it was spelled out for me – duh), so it struck me odd that Fallon -assistant, bodyguard, babysitter- was supposed to figure it out. After days of trying, Fallon (as Borden now) says to let it drop, which the other ignores on impulse.

Back to Angier’s wife: the clever one allowed his twin some practice. That one wasn’t as on top of it and got confused. At the funeral, his brother was honest when he said he didn’t know which knot was used. The feud started out as a mistake (which is why we’re supposed to feel bad for him in the end). Then Angier shot the wrong one (judging from interaction with wife when fingers started bleeding again, the negligent twin had just severed his fingers to match up). Things escalated from there.

3) The Tesla note was meant to mislead Angier. During the exhibition, Borden didn’t seem too impressed with Tesla; he probably thought it was just a fancy light show, so he sent Angiers on a wild goose chase not knowing Tesla actually had something up his sleeve.

4) The original stays in place while the clone appears elsewhere. Cat was chained to the floor, and Angiers was ready with the gun. I can’t imagine the clone being quick enough to act right after his “birth,” especially since the original prepped himself with the gun.

5) I do not believe that the clones automatically share the original’s memories. The info could be imprinted on the brain, but from first breath, the clone is his own person with his own interpretation of life. Two things to consider: info is still in an amnesiac’s brain; retrieval is the problem. I bring up people with amnesia because extreme cases have their pasts wiped away, and a newborn clone has no past at all, no experiences. Assuming the clone can access the memories, could he make sense of the images? (like a recovering amnesiac seeing flashes of the past but not knowing what it means)

Probably deeper than this movie warrants, but my assumptions were based on the clone being a physical replica with no memory: a newborn. I assumed experiences and emotions associated with them were not copied.

6) Here’s where I take a leap (besides that implausible cloning machine thing): the act is just a fancy light show. The cloning takes place earlier in the day, after which Angier charms the clone into practicing the act with the big bean bag underneath while he waits up on the balcony. Except during the actual performance, the cushion is replaced with a water tank. If the original does not move from the machine when it’s on, I would say the machine is not really on during the performance. The clone plays along, not realizing he’s about to drown, while Angier waits to see if Borden takes the bait. (So I guess I’m agreeing with eeeee #35 and Majik #69)

7) Angiers comments about not knowing if he’s the prestige or the clone because he’s starting to lose it a little. It’d freak me out if I conspired with a twin of my own making every day, moreso if I lied and killed them every day too. My stance is the original Angier is always the prestige who creates and disposes of his unsuspecting clones.

Precautionary message here? With advances in cloning technology, what would it mean someday for human clones? Replicas to be used for their parts then discarded after serving their purpose? Hmmm…

8) Christian Bale is yummy. So if you’re going to flame me for holes in my logic, I blame him for distracting me….

turtle | Tue, 04/17/2007 - 11:09pm

Y'know, a lot of people say Christian Bale
is my double.

Holden Caulfield | Wed, 04/18/2007 - 8:32am

Is that so? Well then, Tesla really was a genius.

turtle | Wed, 04/18/2007 - 8:36pm're funny.

Holden Caulfield | Fri, 04/20/2007 - 4:09am

Hey, er, I posted a while ago (39), I just watched the Prestige again, and I've reached the same conclusion. I think it's pretty obvious (several other people have reached this conclusion too). There are no clones, there's only one body in the glass cage (Root's, the same one on the slab), the only time we ever saw cloning "happen" was coming out of Angier's mouth, the multiple top hats and cats were a ruse, the glass boxes carted down the street in the middle of the night were an obvious misdirection for curious magicians (of course they'd be watching), Angiers knew to set it up to have Root killed the night Borden was there because he'd spied him in the audience (or maybe it was the last night? I'm weak on this point), and all the talk at the end was to get us to call into question our impulse to believe in something us a far-out as a cloning device. A great movie.

Ryan | Sun, 04/22/2007 - 9:48pm

Hold on a minute,...
if Tesla misled Angier into thinking that he had a genuine cloning machine ( Angier having paid Tesla a substantial amount of cash to develop such a device) wouldn´t Angier´s discovery that it was a dud be worthy of a even a brief scene in the movie???????
You´re saying that this startling revelation that he paid a fortune for a lame duck isn´t really worthy of some kind ¨nod¨ to the audience???????
I´m sorry, I can´t swallow that.

What about Angier´s comments about it taking real courage to step into the machine every night???? Don´t you think that kind of suggests that the audience was seeing the device in operation on multiple occasions and that one man died each time in the process?

And your suggestion that the only cloning that took place was solely from Angier´s mouth.....C´mon.....

it´s a director´s storytelling technique to visually display onscreen via flashback, one person´s telling of past events. To blatently use this technique to lie to the audience so he could then go ¨ta daaaaa!¨ at the end is just is just cheap, cheap, cheap. That´s not´s just plane lying.

Holden Caulfield | Mon, 04/30/2007 - 1:48am

I've read thru a lot of this thread, but I may have missed a thing or two.

I have a couple questions ... comments.

First the comment ... I think the Borden's were natural twins. The first appearance of a twin takes place just a bit after Borden meets his eventual wife.

He walks her back to her apartment, and just as he bids her goodbye and begins to walk down the steps .. she opens her apartment door to find Borden inside the apartment .. that had to be a twin. This happened fairly early in the story if I recall right.

Now for the question ... this one bugs me ... the Promoter/Theater Owner for Angiers unveiling of the Tesla machine makes mention of seeing real magic once before. What did he mean .. I have always thought that line might have been important, but could never figure out where that fella might have seen real magic before. Any ideas?


Bam | Fri, 05/11/2007 - 8:25pm

I read through lots of posts, but not all, so, if this is a repeat, so be it :)

I am of the assumption that cloning is actually taking place every night during Angier's performance, otherwise his death speech, as well as the dozen water tanks, would be unnecessary and just stupid. True, we only see one dead clone in a tank at the end, but Angier does say to Borden/Fallon "You don't see where you are, do you?" and then as the building is burning Borden/Fallon looks around at the tanks and has a look of realization. I'm also not buying that it's Root in the tank. Pooh!
So, with that assumption, I become more intrigued by the fact that it has to be the clone that lives on each night and not the original Angier. As we see with the cat, the original stays and the clone ends up transported. So the "original"(for that day) Angier is dropped into the tank each night, while the clone is transported and receives all the glory and goes on to do the show the next night, hence "No one cares about the man in the box". BUT, with that comes my real question: I too wondered if I was supposed to believe that the clones retained the memory of the original. If so, then "the Angiers" were willing to commit suicide each night for the sake of the trick, having full knowledge that the water tanks were waiting for them beneath the stage, and how else would they know how to set up the trick the next night?? On the other hand, when Angier framed Borden/Fallon and is shown drowning, he has a genuine look of shock, like the tank isn't supposed to be there. I'm still out on that one.
But, now that I think about, and I'm sure 50 posts above me have stated this...if you already have clone of yourself, why the hell would you create another one every night just to use the machine?? The only difference between Angier's and Borden's performance was the flashing lights! Angier's trick wasn't actually BETTER, as was his life's goal. Now I'm mad! I really liked the movie, and even though I knew both Borden and Angier were working with clones (but not that Borden was actually a twin) I appreciated the ending with all the water tanks and Angier's last words. Now though, it just seems stupid.

yup | Thu, 05/17/2007 - 11:06pm

just saw the prestige for the first time. quite liked it. i was convinced before the end that there was no cloning going on, and that made it all the more fun. anyway, i still have a lot of really major issues to work out, but i've noticed that some of the people who share my skepticism with respect to the 'cloning-machine' are troubled by the 'possibility' that there's more than one 'drowned jackman' in the row of tanks during the final confrontation between jackman and bale. i'm sure there were several, but i'm not convinced that this is a problem. right, if they're actual corpses, there's only one (that we KNOW of; but certainly people are right not to allow that there could be tons of such uncanny lookalikes running about), but why assume that they're actual corpses? why not wax figures, or something of that sort?

mabel | Thu, 05/31/2007 - 12:18am

Mabel, there was no hinting at wax figures, or anything like that, but there was clearly hinting that the machine actually worked with the top hats, and cats scene, and with the first experiment of the cloning device when Angiers shot a 2nd version of himself.

Also, there was one Angiers corpse shown on a slab at the morgue ... there was another Angiers that was shot after the first experiment with the cloning machine ... there was a 3rd corpse that was clearly shown in the water case at the end of the movie, and then finally there was the Angiers who was shot dead at the end by Borden. That makes four dead Angiers at least.

I'd say it's pretty clear that the cloning machine worked, but that's just me. We'll probably never have a definative answer.


Bam | Fri, 06/01/2007 - 9:22pm

As to the Bordons, it's stated in the film. As Angier falls to his knees after he's been shot, he says "A brother? A twin."

Also, on the second to last trip that Angier takes to Tesla's, before he discovers that the machine has been working the whole time, he yells at Tesla's assistant "You've never built a machine like the one I'm asking you to build now! You've been wasting my time and money shooting sparks into my hat!" His assistant's response was "I never said he had."


SLAP | Wed, 06/20/2007 - 11:35am

Every night one of the Angier pairs fell into the tub and the other showed up in the balcony. What happened to the one that showed up in the balcony when Christian Bale went downstairs? he should have showed up there just as he did everynight, and he should have had a problem explaining the duplicate down below since the trick was now disclosed to Bale and Caine. i don't get it?

Michael Corn | Mon, 08/27/2007 - 10:15am

responce to turtle... (6)

it was always a water that he could always drown his can see this at the end of the movie where it shows us all the water tanks...thats y he had blind helpers..
but what i dont understand is who is the real borden...the one who was killed by hanging or the one who kills angier at the end(fallon)...and if its the one who kills angier then when did they switch??or maybe his twin brother was caught from the beggining???

kristian | Wed, 09/12/2007 - 11:10am

after reading all these posts, I am even more aware that I need to see the movie another time. Why did Angier ask the audience to leave if they were unable to see someone drown? No one was privvy to seeing him drown? It appeared that the drowning was just known to the stagehands and himself. As far as where did he go and how did he explain himself, instead of appearing to the audience, Angier simply went away for a while until the trial and sentencing was over then re-appeared as the duke and got his final reward.
It seemed really silly to me at first to have so many water tanks, why not just remove the bodies and use the same tank?
The only thing that makes Angier's trick better than Borden's is the light show and the magician appearing at the back of the theater, instead of the other side of the stage, So, was it all an elaborate set up to get Borden killed? If not, why not make a bunch of clones and trade off who does the trick every night and have the best trick and show in town.
For that matter, Borden, having a twin, he could do the same trick, and appear across town if he wanted to.
Was killing someone so important every night? if it really didnt have to be done?
Angier could have gone to Tesla's lab, paid him to make him a clone, or two, and done the trick to his hearts content. Why all the water tanks? was it there simply to to die as his wife did every night?


carmic | Tue, 09/25/2007 - 6:39pm

This movie has a very annoying ending. The whole theme of the movie was centered around people "wanting to be fooled" and subsequently not seeing what was truly happening in front of their eyes. So, I assumed that the Tesla machine was an illusion and didn't really copy anyone/anything and that Angier had a twin brother as well. I had figured out that Fallon had a twin brother about halfway through the movie which was also annoying because the other characters don't figure it out. Are we supposed to assume that even magicians "want to be fooled"?
The movie being centered around the reality of people wanting to be fooled doesn't make sense if the Tesla machine is supposed to actually work, because that part is not real. The two things contradict eachother and the movie falls apart. (unless, of course, Tesla (who actually existed) actually created a machine in real life that duplicates things and it never was made public -- highly highly unlikely).

Also, given that the machine works, why did it create dozens of duplicate hats, but only one duplicate Angier at a time? Unless it did create dozens of Angiers each time and they hid out somewhere? Didn't the machine create several duplicate cats, as well? Also, how did each Angier duplicate always appear inside the theatre? The hats and cats appeared outside of the building with the machine in it. Angier should have appeared outside of the theatre.

Also, if Angier was willingly committing suicide by drowning each time he did the trick, why was he trying to get out of the tank in the one scene where Fallon goes under the stage and tries to free him from the tank?

And why did they save the tanks and bodies? Also, bodies become quite bloated and rot quickly in water. Yet no one mentions a stench coming from the room with all the tanks.

And the stagehands were blind, but were they deaf, as well? You can hear someone fall into a tank of water and hear that no one frees them and hear them struggling and drowning. I mean, come on. Blind people have excellent hearing.

This movie has way to many holes in it to be considered seriously.

And the constant jumping around in the timeline is really annoying as well.

Well, I'm almost sorry I saw the movie at all. If a movie is out to make a point, it should be done logically and consistently. If the point being made is inconsistent with events in the movie, people are just left confused and annoyed.

P.S. Given that the Tesla machine works, that would explain how Michael Cain's character could know what it feels like to drown. He said that a man who drowned told him it's very painful. Well, you don't survive a the man must have been duplicated and retained the memory of drowning. Can't remember where that was in the movie, but Cain's character was probably talking about Angier.

science chick | Wed, 10/24/2007 - 1:58pm

very interesting, but I don't agree with you

Idetrorce | Sat, 12/15/2007 - 10:43am

Sorry to be a pain, but I saw THE PRESTIGE around Christmas and want to throw my 10 pence (I'm British) in the mix.

I think the ending for me meant that:

Michael Caine's character raised Borden (twins) and Angier (one person) into a Magician's apprenticeship like two sons (or three if you want to be technical).

Borden grew up with and half-lived with a twin all of his half-life, which may be the reason why his character "suddenly" insisted on using a new knot to tie Anger's wife in the beginning of the film and become more argumentative and then later "not remembering" which knot was tied on the night she died.

Tesla was an "illusionist" who sold the dream of duplication as a machine and Borden knew this, but was prepared to accept that the machine was part of the trick.

When Angiers purchased the machine, he believed that the machine could duplicate himself, but the reality was that he could only perform the trick with another look-a-like who knew the machine was a fake and essentially the trick as much as "The Great Danton"

So I put it to you that the "actor" who impersonated Angiers was the one who killed (the original magician) The Great Danton and carried on killing (other lookalikes) to maintain his status and continue the pretence of his mastery of magic. It was such that the "actor" always wanted to be THE PRESTIGE and because of the betrayal that he committed he could not trust any other "lookalike" essentially shooting his stooge in a test run of the machine!!!

How's about them apples!!!

Trevor | Wed, 01/02/2008 - 3:58pm

This is going to sound like a dumb question most likely, but why did Caine (if he knew about fallon and alfred AND about the duplicate Angiers) testify that borden was the one who killed Angier? And then smiles when Borden comes to pick up his daughter at the end? It just confused me a little. Loved the movie though! So good.

Sarah | Sun, 01/06/2008 - 11:07am

I keep reading different posts that comment about the end when the narrator implys that we are being fooled or don't want to know the truth. The answer to this, I believe, was posted by Chris on 10-25-06. He noticed that all of Borden's fingers were intact on one of the last scenes when he picked up his daughter. I checked the movie and this is true. I looked back and it was the same hand that had missing fingers before. Obviously it was a cloned Borden who picked up his daughter (I guess it clones by DNA, not cloning an exact duplication). Anyway, although I had already gotten the impression that Borden was GOING to use the machine to "reincarnate" his twin brother, I guess they "tricked us" at the end by having already done it and most of us not noticing. Hats off to Chris for his sharp observation!

And Sarah, I think that Caine's character was sympathetic with Angier after he lost his wife and was supportive to him UNTIL he saw Angier turn nasty by framing Borden and taking his daughter to live with him. He THEN switched sides.

Charli | Tue, 01/08/2008 - 10:00pm

P.S. I think that the trick at the end was so simple (Borden having cloned himself) that many of us have been spinning our wheels trying to figure out whether the machine really cloned, etc., when that was just as it was presented (no trick).

At the very end it shows the shot Angier on the ground and a drowned one in the water. It also shows several other water boxes with shadows in them (could be more dead Angiers). There is no evidence that any of the clones survived, but I can't help but wonder if there is any chance that any of the clones may have survived. That would be much more interesting than just another Borden or two out there.

Charli | Tue, 01/08/2008 - 10:36pm

I'd a lot of time to kill and curiosity did kill the cat... I read this entire thread today (!!!) and am further increasing its length That too, after multiple runs of the movie since the past couple of months. A simple formula to understand any movie, IMO, is to assume that the moviemakers didn't lie. And neither did the characters, unless specifically so disclosed; in this case, when both make their diaries reach the other intentionally.

Unexplained: Its okay to have a flaw or two; if so many out-of-the-box thinkers are breaking their heads here, I'm sure the movie makers couldn't get it all perfect. :) In my formula, the only unexplained thing in the movie is Angier's comment about his not being sure whether he'd be the Prestige or the man in the box.

I don't think trying to break the glass holds a good argument for the court, since Borden may have just acted to break the glass, after Angier died, to escape the murder charge! More so, after having known that it was not possible to save a person who's stuck in such a water tank, as proven by earlier on-stage accident of Angier's wife.

Tesla's clone machine: If you appreciate what the movie also stood for, it was about how Edison screwed with Tesla's progress. It also showed how passionate Tesla was about science. What kind of people miss these major issues and *doubt* that Tesla fooled Angier then?!

Twins: There may be many issues that are unclear in the movie, but one that is clear is that Borden couldn't afford a clone. No magic would bring the kind of money home for Borden to clone himself. If Tesla said it would cost a lot of money, and spends too, its shown that only the Duke, Angier before his assumed name could afford it. At most, Tesla may have offered to build such a machine, but Borden may have settled for a jazzy eye candy machine instead, due to the exorbitant price. Later, he sent Angier on a wild goose-chase, obviously assuming Angier to not be able to afford it.

Conclusion: In the end, I think whether or not people like the movie, or whether or not was it a hit, the movie did create this kind of a ruckus to break heads on and I think, so, the movie succeeded. An unsolved mystery is the best mystery. As Borden puts it: no one likes it when they know the secret! Or how the final show manager puts it: give them something to doubt it!

Needless to say, I liked the movie. But I liked the Illusionist almost at par.

Praveen | Tue, 01/15/2008 - 11:12am

I would like to believe that each of the Borden twins survived, and I think there's some evidence that this was true, but I can't draw a firm conclusion. There were several images of Borden(s) at the end wearing different clothes and in different locations. Were we seeing a reprise of the action as Michael Caine's character narrates, or were we seeing an accurate sequence of events at the end?

I liked both The Illusionist and The Prestige. The Illusionist is the fairy tale wrapped in illusion and The Prestige is the mystery wrapped in illusion. There are obviously going to be holes in each of the stories because they are intended to be a combination of credible happenings and incredible occurrences that are meant to make us believe that perhaps these things can happen, not that they necessarily do.

Sonetto | Sun, 02/17/2008 - 1:57pm

You guys are freaking idiots, the movie was meant to be open to interpretation as it obviously is ...judging by all these different post's.

Anonymous | Sat, 03/29/2008 - 8:09am

The question of the clones, and their relevance at the end of Angier's shows, reminded me of an article I read on about quantum suicide:


A man sits down before a gun, which is pointed at his head. This is no ordinary gun; it's rigged to a machine that measures the spin of a quantum particle. Each time the trigger is pulled, the spin of the quantum particle -- or quark -- is measured. Depending on the measurement, the gun will either fire, or it won't. If the quantum particle is measured as spinning in a clockwise motion, the gun will fire. If the quark is spinning counterclockwise, the gun won't go off. There'll only be a click.

Nervously, the man takes a breath and pulls the trigger. The gun clicks. He pulls the trigger again. Click. And again: click. The man will continue to pull the trigger again and again with the same result: The gun won't fire. Although it's functioning properly and loaded with bullets, no matter how many times he pulls the trigger, the gun will never fire. He'll continue this process for eternity, becoming immortal.

Go back in time to the beginning of the experiment. The man pulls the trigger for the very first time, and the quark is measured as spinning clockwise. The gun fires. The man is dead.

But, wait. The man already pulled the trigger the first time -- and an infinite amount of times following that -- and we already know the gun didn't fire. How can the man be dead? The man is unaware, but he's both alive and dead. Each time he pulls the trigger, the universe is split in two. It will continue to split, again and again, each time the trigger is pulled.

This thought experiment is called quantum suicide.


Of course, with The Prestige we're still dealing with the same universe. I would imagine Angiers is aware of being both alive and dying during the end of his final shows; though not simultaniously. He never really dies each night because he is continually living at the same time (and vice versa). But he will experience both each night, seperately.

I don't think humans are supossed to think in these terms. Can you imagine making an exact copy of yourself; both of you agreeing that one copy will die...but in essence no one really gets hurt? When the dust settles, is there still a soul intact? XD

Check out the entire Quantam Suicide article here:

Lunessence | Thu, 04/03/2008 - 5:06am

So many of your missed the finer points of this movie, which is truly astounding because of the amount of times you all claimed to have watched it. I watched it once, then went back to individudal parts later for explanation.

(1) The first point everyone must keep in mind is that the Tesla machine was supposed to be a transporter. Plain and simple, he was tasked with making a machine that sent Angiers from the stage to somewhere else. The unintended side effect was that a clone was created.

(2) The fundamental question of the conclusion of this movie was, who is the clone? To find the answer, you must go back to the scene with the cat. Watch that scene again. When the cat is taken out of the kennel and placed under the machine, he is hissing, especially after the machine is started. Afterwards, it is completely docile. However when Angiers discovers the two cats and the hats, the cat found out back hisses at him, while the cat that led him there is docile. From that, you can determine that the ORIGINAL was trasnported and the clone was left in the machine. This idea is verified when Angiers says to Tesla, "So, then it has been working all along" (meaning it does transport) and Tesla responds "Yes, but exact science isn't always exact" (meaning that the unintended consequence is the creation of a clone left in the machine.

(3) Fast forward to Angiers experiment. Tesla sent along specific calibrations and instructions for the machine. Angiers is under the impression that the trasnporter works as planned, ie NO CLONES. As protection, he puts a gun next to him, in case a clone does appear, to kill it. Angiers said it himself "I could not live like that for very long" (meaning with a clone) The experiment went just as it did in Tesla's lab. Angiers was transported, but a clone still appeared in the machine. You can tell by the expressions on their faces. The one outside has a smile on his face with his arms outward so as to say, IT WORKS. Meanwhile, the one in the machine has a confused look on its face, so as it say why didn't it work? The clone, thinking HE is the original, shoots the man who he perceives as the clone, who is really Angiers. THIS is what Cutter means at the end when he says that you want to be fooled. The first impression is that Angiers has been killing off his clones, when in actually he was killed a long time ago BY his clone.

(4) Thus, we come to the infamous statement "it took courage to go into that machine every night not knowing whether I would be the man in the box or the prestige". To that original clone (the one who shot the real Angiers), the machine DID work every time after that, because he was transported to the balcony. However, the doubt remained in his head because he still thought the first time it didn't work and was fearful that the machine would "malfunction" again (when in reality it successfully transported the original everytime.

Hope this helps everyone.

CJ | Wed, 05/14/2008 - 1:22pm

Anyone who thinks Borden was cloned misses the whole main point of the movie: that sometimes there is a reasonably simple answer to something. Angier was obsesed with knowing the clever secret... travelling the world and looking for wacky ways to do it. When in fact the thought of it being a double was just not even possible in his mind, and a twin never occured to him.

Furthermore Borden's wife said about him sometimes loving her and sometimes not... that's because they were different people. If it was a clone they'd both love her.

Tony | Sat, 05/31/2008 - 4:49pm

Here's my take (though probably too late to matter):

Alfred Borden has a twin, and "lives the act" even at home with his wife and child. He and the twin switch places often, with one portraying the other's assistant Fallon. This also explains why he seems to be two different people around his wife, who kills herself. The machine that Tesla builds for Angier turns out to be a cloning machine, which transports the clone in the process. So, each night Angier uses the machine onstage, he is actually cloning himself, with the copy falling through the trap door into a water tank and drowning. Angier uses this to frame Borden for his murder. Angier takes on the name Lord Caldlow and is granted custody of Borden's daughter after the trial, so apparently, he has succeeded in taking everything from Borden as he set out to do. At this point, Angier is still unaware that Borden has a twin. One of the Borden/Fallon twins is hanged for the crime, while the other returns to shoot Angier, setting fire to his dead body and the duplicating machine. As Angier is dying he states "You don't see where you are, do you?", and, as the fire burns, Borden/Fallon looks around and realizes that he is in the underground holding area for the water tanks with the dead Angier clones inside of them. We are then shown Borden/Fallon reuniting with his daughter who is with Cutter, (who knew that Borden was a twin the entire time). The movie ends with a quick shot of one of the dead clones in a water tank.

We can pick up that Borden is a twin right from the beginning because of the other more subtle clues – Borden explains that the life of the Chinese magician is the trick itself – he lives his magic, this is his first hint that there is more to himself than people may realize. The next hint is in the fact that, when asked, Borden really does not remember which knot was tied during the death of Angier’s wife. This speaks to the possibility that it was actually the twin that tied the knot.

With that all said and, dare I say, cleared up – there is in fact still one (at least) hole I’ve found worth noting: the first time Angiers uses Tesla’s machine, we see him place a gun right next to the spot of where he’ll stand as it zaps(clones) him. I believe that only one of two things can be happening here:
1. Either the cloning machine is in fact also a teleporting machine (teleporting the original away from the zapping point and replacing that spot with the clone)
2. Or the cloning machine is only a cloning machine and is NOT a teleporting machine

In the first scenario Angiers would have mistakenly placed the gun next to the zapping spot, assuming that he would have been replicated right there and could then kill his clone. This may be the case, since once cloned the Angiers that gets shot says, “No I’m the…” (…clone - presumably).

If this is the case then, each time after this first cloning, he is actually killing/sacrificing his clone and living on to enjoy the look in the audience’s faces.
However, if the second scenario is true, then the clone must have an exact knowledge and memory to everything the original Angiers knew at the point of cloning. This presents the cloning with the deeper question of what would a clone actually “remember” from a life which it did not actually experience. This scenario assumed that the clone believes himself to actually be the original – meaning he would be confused about how the Algiers on the zapping spot got there and how he got to where he was as he gets shot). It presumes that Angiers did in fact know everything that his copy knew, and vice versa, AND therefore it should then make no difference which of himself he is sacrificing from there on out because both the copy and original believe themselves to be the original.

Finally Tesla is also left slightly ambiguous. Because we know and later find out for sure that Boren was actually using his twin, we wonder why he sent Algiers to Tesla in the first place. I think that this was supposed to be seen as him sending Algiers on a distracting, wild goose chase. During the scene with the Tesla Exhibition, Boren does not seem to be too impressed with Tesla, and probably thought it was nothing more than a fancy show of electricity – so believing that, he sends Algiers to America to waste time on that search for something more than reality (especially since Algiers does not show himself to Boren, and therefore Boren’s expressions must not be a mere acting on behalf of Algiers). The original motivations of whether or not Tesla was trying to make a cloning or teleportation device is not too clear. When answering Algiers’ question as to why the machine for him was not originally working, the assistant comments to Tesla that he would have changed the calibration if he had seen the hat move – it wasn’t until the cat ran to the cloned cat that they realized what the machine was actually doing. I therefore have trouble believing that Tesla was actually trying to replicate a cloning machine from a previous endeavor. BUT this contradicts with the exhibition scene. The original machine which, at the exhibition, is forced not to be shown off to the audience therefore could not be the same design/machine as the one Tesla later creates for Angiers.
Angiers later comes into Tesla’s workspace area upset because he believes that Tesla has failed in creating for him the TRANSPORTING machine: Angiers says, “Tesla never made a machine like the one I asked for.” Tesla’s assistant then explains, “I never said he had.” The assistant is trying to explain that the machine is not a transporting machine like Angiers wants, but is still in fact a great magic/science trick since it is able to clone any object. This is fact is repeated when Tesla comes into that scene and says, “When I told you I could make a machine, I spoke the truth.” Implying that he could in fact make a machine, but that it wasn’t the one he was hoping for.

Truth | Tue, 09/23/2008 - 10:07pm

i think all of you are right and wrong at the same time about the whole clone dilemma. Here's why:

The reason is that we NEVER know for certain who is actually transported; either the "original" or the "clone." Everytime Angiers goes through the act, there is a a duplication of himself with the same thoughts and biological features. So after the act, one of the two Angiers who appears away from the machine will be thinking "cool this works i did not die" while the other will be shocked because he has not moved an inch. This may seemed like a major hint but in reality it means nothing. Since both will have the same experiences prior to the act, it is obvious to understand why they would say or think such a thing, but that does not ultimately answer who is the most "original" one of the two.

Let's look it in another perspective. Let's say that at the end of the transporting act they decide to not kill each other and rather talk about who is the original Angiers. They may start formulating the same theories just as we are doing on this forum but at the end of the day they still will not know who is the original one because once again, they have the same experiences.

So in my opinion this is why angiers says this "it took courage to go into that machine every night not knowing whether I would be the man in the box or the prestige" Here Angiers thinks what i am thinking: that he does not know if the Angiers at this precise time before doing the act will be the one dead at the very end. And i think this is actually a very corageous thing to do because he is living life with uncertainty knowing that he absolutely does not know two things after the trick: 1)whether he is the same Angiers before the act and 2) whether he is going to die.

And one last thing, this kind of interpretion at the whole transporting act is even more meaningful at Cutter's ending line "You aren't really looking for the trick. You want to be fooled."? We are all basically "fooling" ourserves by making theories about whom is the one standing at the end when in fact we may never know because it is all subjective.

Perhaps the real answer should be in Nolan's head since he wrote the book. anyone read it (i did not)?

enigma | Mon, 10/27/2008 - 10:55pm

Regarding all the fools complaining about Angier comment about not knowing whether he was to be the one to drown:
He actually wouldn't, since neither of the Angiers would know whether they are the clone. Like some of the more intelligent posters broughtup, their memories are identical, and at first reaction both would think they are the original(hence one says "I'm not the.." while the other one shoots him) Thinking of it as exactly what one would do in the other's shoes. The surviving Angier was probably smart enough to later realise then he doesn't actually know whether he is a clone or the orignal. Whoever the last surviving Angier is is still wondering whether he is the "first clone", or one of the many subsequent copies of it(as we should be) What is known though that the "original" Angier is dead, as he was shot if he was teleported or later drowned if he stayed in place. Beyond that no one knows for sure, apart from Tesla and Nolan. One can speculate however, and purely speculate that since it was built as a "teleporting machine" that the original was teleported and shot, and his first clone never had to die.(until bale ruined the party) I think is a really thought provoking film that makes you think about the reality of our existence. The sixth day had a similar theme, would you be immortal if you could clone yourself? Nah!!

Al | Tue, 11/18/2008 - 9:59pm

There has come winter :(
It became cold and cloudy!
Mood very bad :(
Depression Begins

DDDepressionnn | Thu, 11/20/2008 - 2:07pm

Depression Depression Depression aaaaaaaa
HEEEEELP :( :( :(
I hate winter! I want summer!

DDDDepressionnnn | Thu, 11/20/2008 - 9:53pm

subjective opinions =/= fact.

#1 Borden/Fallon ARE identical twins.

#2 Tesla's machine IS in fact a working cloning/transporting device.

Im surprised no one is arguing the suicide/murder debate of Angier's actions upon himself/clone.

The screen play could have been written better to cover "plot holes" yes, however in most novel to movie adaptations, information, background is inevitably lost. (See Lord of the Rings).

Suggestion: Spend less time arguing online and read the book, as your lingering questions will be answered...although new questions are bond to arise.

If you liked the movie, you would probably enjoy the book. Its central theme is the same, however it is framed differently. There is no trial, as Borden is not a suspect in Angier's "death". The book reaches accross time as the fued is revealed and their secrets discoverd by their great grand children.

Great movie, great book.

paulman | Sat, 11/22/2008 - 9:04am

I would REALLLY appreciate some ideas on this:

At the end of the movie, Cutter(Caine) smiles when the Borden who killed Angier comes to get his daughter Jess. He also doesn't seem at all surprised to see him? Shouldn't he be confused? Borden is supposed to be in jail, in fact, hanged only a few hours earlier.


ilovebale | Tue, 01/06/2009 - 4:31pm


Derek Mcnamara | Thu, 03/19/2009 - 11:09pm

I think many of you are missing the fact that you have been tricked and "suspended your disbelief" that a transporter/duplication machine is impossible, and that a simplier explanation must exist. This is the brilliance of this film. The moral implications about who was the real Angier and who was the copy, and who was going into the tank every night was all part of the distraction. After all this is a film about magicians and our desire to believe. Angier was obsessed with being the better magician and willing to kill and sacrifice his life to fool Borden. Who better to pull the ultimate deception on than his nemisis and expert in the craft. Caine helped him set-up the final act (with conditions on the father/daughter being reunited). This was Angier's best and final trick/revenge and to the end he never reveiled the secret to Borden. As it should be.....

BBC | Fri, 03/20/2009 - 10:19am

best movie ever

L1A | Sat, 05/09/2009 - 6:35pm