[[quoteright:250:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/prestige.jpg]]
[[caption-width-right:250:[[ArcWords Are you watching closely?]]]]

->"''Now you're looking for the secret... but you won't find it, because of course you're not really looking. You don't really want to know. You want to be fooled.''"
-->-- '''Cutter'''

'''''The Prestige''''' is a 2006 film, from WarnerBros and TouchstonePictures, directed by Creator/ChristopherNolan. It was based on an award-winning [[TheFilmOfTheBook book of the same name]] by Creator/{{Christopher Priest|Novelist}}.

The story follows an escalating rivalry between two late 19th century magicians, [[FunWithAcronyms Alfred Borden]] and [[ThemeInitials Robert Angier]]. They started their careers as "voluntaries" to another stage magician until Angier's wife died during a performance, possibly because Borden may have tied a stronger rope knot than necessary (with the wife's permission). The rivalry extends into the magician scene as the two compete to see who is the best at their craft while sabotaging each other's acts.

Told through the framing devices of the two men reading one another's journals, the plot is not shown in chronological order.

Interestingly, the film cannot really be said to have a protagonist. Both sides are portrayed neutrally [[GreyAndGrayMorality without either getting a sympathetic point of view]]. This gives a different slant on a story instead of just the normal protagonist vs. antagonist story. Instead we get a story about two overly obsessed flawed men.

Also, this film has NikolaTesla [[MadeOfWin played by]] Music/DavidBowie.

Now has a [[Characters/ThePrestige character sheet]] in need of expansion.

'''This film is built almost entirely out of unexpected twists. You will learn them if you read any further.'''
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!!This film provides examples of:

* ARealManIsAKiller: Angier is told that he needs to be willing to "get his hands dirty" if he wants to be a truly great magician, which in context meant being willing to kill doves to maintain an illusion. Borden actually does just that in an earlier trick.
** [[spoiler: Also, when Borden is performing his bullet catch, he asks if his volunteer (Angier) is "man enough."]]
* ActingForTwo: [[spoiler: Christian Bale as the Borden twins. See FridgeBrilliance tab.]] HughJackman plays both Angier and his drunk double Root, using a different accent.
* AnachronicOrder: A Nolan trademark.
* AlternativeForeignThemeSong: [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=amXKQ351QBw&feature=related "Returner"]] by Gackt was used as the theme song in the Japanese version.
* [[spoiler:AlwaysIdenticalTwins]]: Part of the twist.
* AristocratsAreEvil: [[spoiler:"Lord Caldlow"]]. It's hard to decide if the character was always this way or slowly grew into it as the years passed.
* BadassBoast: Root has his moment when he displays himself as competent to perform as a double.
--> '''Root''': Yes, you'd drink, too, if you knew the world half as well as I do. Did you think you were unique, Mr. Angier? I've been Caesar, I've played Faust. How difficult could it possibly be to play the Great Danton?
* [[BeethovenWasAnAlienSpy Nikola Tesla Was a Wizard]]: He invented a [[spoiler: duplication machine]].
* BetaCouple: In a very unusual version of this trope, Tesla/Edison for Borden/Angier. Both couples are in the same lines of work, both are fiercely competitive and at the very tops of their fields.
** And if you think about it, [[spoiler:Alfred #2/Olivia for Alfred #1/Sarah]] as a straighter but still slightly off-kilter version of the trope.
* BlackAndGrayMorality: Have fun trying to decide who's gray.
* BookEnds: Michael Caine showing the bird trick to the little girl in both the beginning and the end. Interestingly, it's a bit creepier at the end because you know how it's done. [[spoiler:The bird in the cage has to die.]]
* BulletCatch: Definitely ''not'' played straight when Angier deliberately uses a real bullet to blow two of Borden's fingers off.
* ByronicHero + VillainProtagonist: The magicians. [[spoiler:And the twin that is Jess's father is the only one to be cast in a better light than the other two. The other twin is a paranoid {{jerkass}} that drives his brother's love to suicide. Angier, on the other hand, is a MadArtist so obsessed with revenge that [[TheDeterminator he's willing to clone and drown himself dozens of times just to upstage Borden]].]]
* CaliforniaDoubling for England in most of those scenes.
** A variant in the Angier storyline, as the scenes of Angier's trip to Colorado were actually filmed in Colorado, however, the town of Telluride in southwest Colorado is standing in for Colorado Springs. To be fair, Telluride has more buildings left over from the 1890s time period, compared to Colorado Springs, and it would take less work to disguise the environments.
* ChekhovsGun: "I mean, someone could [[spoiler:stick a button in there! Or, god forbid, a bullet!"]]
** Olivia tells Angier that The Transporting Man is accomplished by using a double because she found lots of disguise supplies, but that's not the real reason those supplies are important.
* ClarkesThirdLaw / MagicFromTechnology: [[spoiler:Tesla's machine. Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from ''stage'' magic.]]
* ClassicallyTrainedExtra: Angier's double. [[spoiler: The one from before he starts using clones.]]
* [[spoiler:CloningBlues: Angier's clone is a perfect replica in every part from clothes to memories, created instantaneously. Of ''course'' he thinks he's the original, all the way until the next performance when he clones and unwittingly drowns himself.]]
* CreepyMonotone: Tesla played by David Bowie.
* CycleOfRevenge: A vicious one, at that.
* DarkerAndEdgier: Both Angier and Borden were considerably more sympathetic in the book.
** Angier's new show after his return from Colorado is far grimmer than his original LargeHam performance as The Great Danton. He even does the trick that killed Julia.
* [[spoiler:DeathByAdaptation: Angier.]]
* TheDeterminator: Angier and Borden. [[spoiler:Angier killing himself several times is just psychotic, particularly since he never knows whether he'll be the man on the stage or the man in the box. Borden is nearly as bad, willing to have two of his fingers severed just to keep matching his twin.]]
* DoingItfortheArt: InUniverse, Angier is after the Transported Man trick simply because it'll make a great show, while Borden wants to try and push the limits of the art of magic. Arguably, the whole movie could be seen as a debate on the nature of art in general.
** Also present in the book where Borden's digust at Angier is fuelled [[spoiler: by Angier being paid for spiritism sessions. Borden hates that Angier pretends to have supernatural skills because it's disingenuous but also because it undermines the actual skills needed for the illusions.]]
* DrivenToSuicide: Borden's [[spoiler:wife, Sarah.]]
* DuelingStarsMovie: Unlike some films which use this trope, the chemistry Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale is excellent.
* MrFanservice: Oustanding performances aside, it doesn't hurt that the two leads are played by the not entirely unattractive Jackman and Bale, with Bowie on hand too.
* EvenEvilHasStandards: When Borden ([[spoiler: the jerkassy one that loves Olivia]]) sees Angier [[spoiler:drowning in the box]] his first reaction is to [[spoiler:break the glass and yells at Angier to hang on.]]
* EvilWillFail: The more absorbed the dueling magicians become in their vengeance-fueled-rivalry, the more their lives fall apart, until finally [[spoiler: Angier's ingénieur abandons and betrays him when he crosses the MoralEventHorizon.]]
* FaceHeelDoubleTurn: Angier starts out with the audience's sympathy after his wife dies and Borden just seems to be a Jerkass. But as the film goes on we start to see Borden become the sympathetic one as Angier slips even further into revenge.
* {{Fingore}}: Borden jamming Angier's harmless bird cage trick, causing a poor volunteer's hand to get crushed, then Borden losing two fingers, [[spoiler: and subsequently his twin brother]].
* {{Foreshadowing}}: Both major twists at the end of the film are foreshadowed pretty subtly.
** [[spoiler: Starting with Borden immediately grokking the fishbowl trick.]]
** [[spoiler: And the pairs of birds of whom one is killed every time the trick is performed. "Today you've been the lucky one."]]
** [[spoiler: Sarah telling Borden, "Some days, you love magic more than me."]]
** [[spoiler: Borden telling Olivia, "Part of me loves Sarah."]]
* GenreShift: It's a Victorian PeriodPiece about two stage magicians with a bitter rivalry...until [[spoiler: we see Nikola Tesla's cloning machine, and it becomes {{Steampunk}} science fiction.]]
* GoSeduceMyArchnemesis: Angier to Olivia. One of the first obvious signs that the two are willing to go to extreme lengths to try and defeat each other.
* HistoricalVillainUpgrade: Thomas Edison is hinted to be a ruthless, violent man who crushes his foes by sending FacelessGoons to burn down their labs and run them out of town. Even way up in the mountains, Tesla couldn't escape his wrath.
** Edison did order a disinformation campaign against AC which involved killing animals and lobbying.
* ILetGwenStacyDie: Piper Perabo's character, Julia, who drowns during a stage performance, setting Angier, and also Cutter [[spoiler:initially]] against Borden.
* InsufferableGenius: Borden's a fantastic magician, he's just a terrible performer.
** In the novel it's the other way around, with Borden pointing out several times that Angier just didn't understand showmanship. Angier also trolled magician trade publications early in his career.
* {{Jerkass}}: Borden [[spoiler:(the one who gets hanged)]], and Angier's double, Root.
* {{Kayfabe}}: Adherence to this is the reason for most of Borden's troubles.
* LightningCanDoAnything: For Borden's trick the electricity is just for show, but Tesla got it to [[spoiler:duplicate things.]]
* LovelyAssistant: Olivia Wenscombe is this to both of the stage magicians involved (and has affairs with both of them). Angier's wife was also this.
* MadArtist: Angier shows more traits than his rival. In the end he explains that the magic shows' main point (and all that it implied) was to puzzle the audience and be considered the best magician ever. Judging from his popularity it was a complete success, [[PoweredByAForsakenChild but the price he paid was very high]].
* MagicalRealism
* MagiciansAreWizards: Subverted: the movie explains every trick, and at one point Cutter snaps "You're a magician, not a bloody wizard! If you want to do magic, you've got to get your hands dirty." [[spoiler:Perhaps more specifically, Tesla is the wizard, having created Angier's cloning device.]]
* MisappliedPhlebotinum: Apparently neither Tesla nor Angier stopped to consider that [[spoiler:a perfect matter replicator [[CutLexLuthorACheck could be put to many more benevolent and/or lucrative uses]] than a stage performance]].
** Perhaps, though [[spoiler:Tesla didn't get a chance to replicate gold because it was technically Angier's machine after financing its completion, and Angier only cared about the show]].
*** [[spoiler: the machine doesn't seem to replicate metal. The chain holding Alley's cat in the machine doesn't get duplicated. And Angier takes off his ring before the trick.]]
** [[spoiler: Plus, Edison's hired thugs destroyed everything at Tesla's lab, and would've destroyed the prototype if it hadn't already been shipped. Even if Tesla hadn't decided the device was evil, he might not have been able to re-create it; the film even demonstrates how hard it was to create, with Angier's top hats being replicated way off in the forest instead of in the lab as planned which was only discovered after Alley's cat was copied.]]
* NestedStory: Borden reading Angier's journal, about Angier deciphering Borden's journal.
* NiceJobBreakingItHero: In the book, [[spoiler:Borden shuts off the power to Angier's machine while the latter is in the midst of the In A Flash act. This effectively creates a ghostly version of Angier who is seemingly immortal and more vengeful than before.]]
* NoodleIncident: The first time Angier shows his version of The Transported Man to the theater owner, the stunned owner starts talking about how rare it is to see real magic, and that he hasn't seen it happen since... well, whatever this thing was that he was going to say when Angier cut him off.
* ObfuscatingDisability: Chung Ling Soo, the ancient Chinese performer who hides the strength required to accomplish several of his tricks by always pretending to be a cripple with stiff legs in public.
* ObfuscatingStupidity: Arguably, Borden's disguises: they start out seeming very transparent and obvious until we find out that [[spoiler: Borden had also been disguising himself as Fallon the entire time.]]
* OnceMoreWithClarity: The biggest [[TheReveal reveal]] of all is accompanied by one of these.
* OutGambitted: Both Angier and Borden time and time again. [[spoiler:At the end though, Borden comes out on top. (Well, one of them, anyway.)]]
* OhCrap: There are several.
** During Angier's on-stage performance of his disappearing birdcage trick, when two volunteers come up to assist, when Angier realizes too late that one of them is actually a disguised Borden.
* PaperThinDisguise: Averted: That Root is the body double for Angier's transported man trick is something Borden can clearly see through.
* PeopleJars: [[spoiler:Angier's many drowned copies of himself, stored in a warehouse.]]
* PlayingGod: Angier [[spoiler:creates life]]
* PoweredByAForsakenChild: Tesla knows how twisted his [[spoiler:teleporter]] is, and even tries to warn [[spoiler:Angier]] by letter after it is delivered to him.
* RedHerring: [[spoiler:Angier spends a great deal of time deciphering his way through Borden's journal for his secrets, only to find a message from Borden near the end, which explains how he just got him to waste months deciphering nothing.]]
* TheReveal: The secrets to both Borden's and Angier's Transported Man tricks. [[spoiler: Angier was replicating himself using one of Tesla's machines, then killing his clones by locking them in his water tank. Borden secretly has an identical twin who shares his identity with him.]]
* RivalTurnedEvil: Both of them. Part of the enjoyment of the movie is trying to decide who has fallen the furthest.
* SeriousBusiness: These people are serious about stage magic. '''Dangerously''' serious, in fact.
* ShoutOut: During Borden's Bullet Catch scene, one of the performers on the list is one Mr. [[TheDresdenFiles Harry Dresden]].
* [[spoiler:SingleMindedTwins: "Borden" is actually a pair of twins who have made it their life's work to be so identical to each other that no one can tell the difference. The one flaw in their arrangement is that they fall in love with different women.]]
** It's not perfect, though: [[spoiler: The women they love can tell some difference. Specifically, Sarah can tell that sometimes Borden genuinely means it when he says he loves her, and sometimes he doesn't.]]
* SteamPunk: Tesla is the poster wizard for this kind of genre.
* StealthPun: Tesla's assistant's name is '''Alley'''. He has a black '''cat''' for a pet. An alley cat.
** The title is unnervingly close to the word "prestidigitation", meaning sleight of hand or magic. TheOtherWiki denies a shared etymology, but the phonetic similarities are obvious.
* SuperOCD: Tesla's obsessions.
* TechnicianVersusPerformer: A key thematic element of the rivalry between Borden (the technician) and Angier (the performer). There's also a bit of this between Angier and his double (whose drunken antics have quite the theatric touch) [[spoiler: There are hints that the two Bordens differ on this as well--one is a technician, the other more or less along for the ride.]]
* TeleportersAndTransporters: The rivalry is focused around who can pull off this magic trick most convincingly. [[spoiler:Tesla creates a literal one, except it turns out to actually be a matter replicator.]]
* ThisCannotBe: One of the characters in the end, and arguably the viewer on first watching.
* TitleDrop: Professional magicians see their art as three stages; the "pledge", the "turn", and the "prestige".
* TomatoSurprise: [[spoiler:Borden and Fallon.]]
* TrickTwist: The movie is practically riddled with them.
* TwinSwitch: Angier and his double, Root. [[spoiler:And the Bordens, identical twins who swap roles, and the Fallon disguise, without anyone knowing. It works better since with the Borden twins, and with Angier and Root, Jackman and Bale are ActingForTwo]].
* WhatHaveWeEar: Borden likes doing this.
* WorldOfCardboardSpeech: Angier at the end.
** [[spoiler:FinalSpeech]]
* WhiteDwarfStarlet: Angier's double, Root is a drunken, arrogant, washed-up Shakespearean.
* AWizardDidIt: It's never described how NikolaTesla built [[spoiler:a cloning machine]]. Let's just leave it at he's one hell of a genius.
* XanatosGambit: [[spoiler:Angier killed himself ''dozens'' of times so that when Borden inevitably made it backstage, he could be framed for murder on circumstantial evidence. Whether he's the man in the box or the man outside, Borden goes down.]] However, [[spoiler:Angier didn't know Borden had a twin who could avenge him, then take back his daughter. Incidentally, this turns his Xanatos Gambit into a BatmanGambit which was, adequately enough, pulled off by Batman himself, Creator/ChristianBale.]]
** Also qualifies as a [[spoiler: ThanatosGambit for the Angier clones that end up as the "man in the box."]]
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