In 1995 author Christopher Priest combined the themes of fantasy, history, science fiction and mystery to create his novel The Prestige. This World Fantasy Award winning novel explores jealousy and envy as it tells the story of “Two magicians, of wholly different characters, that have fallen into a feud, each trying to outdo the other on stage and in their personal lives” (Ottinger). With such a mysterious and intricate plot, a reader may be torn between watching the movie adaptation or leaving the original plot of the novel preserved in his mind. While the novel uses dated journal entries to unravel the tale and set the scene (Foley), the movie uses flashbacks to show glimpses of the magicians’ secretive lives. Director Christopher Nolan focused on period details and carefully crafted scenes of historical value to stick with the setting of the book, which was the 19th century, while Priest wrote descriptive narratives that allow a reader to immerse himself in the characters’ world. Nolan worked with dedicated cast and crewmembers to maintain the sophistication and the mysterious nature of Priest’s novel.
The dedicated cast and crewmembers of this film worked to be historically accurate not just mentally with their speech and mannerisms, but also physically. The two primary characters of this film are dressed in traditional garb of the time period like top hats, tailored suits and pointed collars. “At the center are two ambitious young magicians, Rupert ‘Robbie’ Angier (Hugh Jackman) and Alfred Borden (Christian Bale)” (Foley). Bale portrays Borden as a natural magician who practices regularly and is envious and spiteful of his rival, because the two men share such a bitter history. On the other hand, Jackman acts sophisticated and troubled as Angier, a magician who is down on his luck and hopes for success in the future. Both “Jackman and Bale are committed to their parts: Genuine madness glints in their eyes” (Burr). These actors exemplify that the men have different professional styles to match their different attitudes towards magic and life.
While wardrobe and attitude are some factors of this film, scenery also helps viewers feel like they are truly watching a film from a different era. Nineteenth century England is displayed clearly in The Prestige. Early in the morning the streets are crowded and foggy, police roam the streets looking for any sort of trouble, and families set up stands by the side of the road looking to bring in an income. During midday most men work steadily at their jobs, and in the evening they gladly retreat to their homes where their wives and kids are waiting to greet them.
The story’s beginning may be set in the 1800’s, but both the film and the novel jump from year to year as the men attempt to perfect their stage personas and improve their magical acts. At first both men struggle to find success, and as time goes on, they do, but at different times. Angier thrills and excites audiences first...