The Prestige

  • Directors: Christopher Nolan
  • Producers: Christopher Nolan, Emma Thomas
  • Writers: Novel, Christopher Priest, Screenplay, Jonathan Nolan, Christopher Nolan
  • Genres: Drama, Fantasy, Mystery, Sci-Fi, Thriller
  • Actors: Hugh Jackman, Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Scarlett Johansson, David Bowie, Piper Perabo, Andy Serkis, Rebecca Hall

Alfred Borden (Christian Bale) and Robert Angier (Hugh Jackman) are plants for Milton the Magician (Ricky Jay), with Cutter (Michael Caine) as his illusion engineer. Angier’s wife, Julia (Piper Perabo) drowns while performing a predicament escape from a Chinese water torture cell, and Angier suspects that Borden bound her wrists with a new knot that he had suggested to Cutter before—one harder for her to undo than his customary one. At the funeral, Borden enrages Angier by saying he does not know which knot he tied.

The two men begin separate careers as magicians; Borden becomes “The Professor” and hires an engineer named Fallon, while Angier performs as “The Great Danton” with Cutter and Olivia (Scarlett Johansson) as his assistants. During a parlor magic job, Borden meets Sarah (Rebecca Hall); they marry and have a daughter, Jess. Sarah feels uneasy about Borden and his apparent fickleness; she claims to know when he loves her and when he does not. During Borden’s performance of the bullet catch, a disguised Angier again demands to know which knot Borden used. Borden and Fallon quickly realize Angier is going to shoot at Borden with a loaded gun. At the last second, Fallon intervenes, and the bullet severs two of Borden’s fingers instead of killing him. A disguised Borden later sabotages Angier’s performance of the vanishing bird cage illusion, damaging Angier’s reputation.

Cutter accompanies Angier to the abandoned building where the water tanks are stored, and helps him store the teleportation machine. Cutter leaves in disgust, silently acknowledging the arrival of Borden, who shoots Angier. Borden reveals that he and “Fallon” were identical twins who lived as a single individual, alternating lives as needed: one twin loving Sarah and the other loving Olivia. For the original illusion, a twin acted as the double. They were so committed to the illusion that they amputated the other twin’s fingers to match his brother’s injury; they also suffered the loss of Sarah as a result of their dedication to the illusion. Similarly, flashbacks recount Angier’s method: that each time he disappeared during his illusion, the machine would create a duplicate, with one Angier falling through a trap door into a locked tank and drowning, and another Angier teleporting to the balcony. Each tank stores a drowned duplicate of Angier for each time that he has performed the trick. Before leaving, Borden looks back at the aisles of tanks containing the dead duplicates and then leaves the dead Angier as a fire begins to consume the building. Borden reunites with Jess.

Labyrinth

  • Directors: Jim Henson
  • Producers: George Lucas
  • Writers: Dennis Lee, Jim Henson, Terry Jones
  • Genres: Adventure, Family, Fantasy, Musical
  • Actors: Jennifer Connelly, David Bowie, Toby Froud

Protagonist Sarah Williams (Connelly) is a 15-year-old who loves reading and acting out fairy tales, whose parents are divorced and whose mother is a moderately famous actress. The movie opens with a scene of Sarah rehearsing lines from her book Labyrinth in a park. While trying to remember the final line of a speech in the book, she loses track of time, forgetting that she must babysit her infant half-brother, Toby. Upon belatedly remembering this, she runs home to find her stepmother Irene waiting angrily for her. They quarrel, after which Irene leaves with Sarah’s father on a date, while Sarah remains behind to babysit Toby. Here, the already furious Sarah realises that her treasured teddy bear, Lancelot, is missing from her room. Storming into Toby’s room, she finds Lancelot and reprimands Toby, whereupon he begins to cry. Sarah, possibly to tease him further in revenge, begins rehearsing more lines from Labyrinth, telling an account of a maiden granted special powers by the King of Goblins. According to the story, the girl (whom Sarah apparently uses to represent herself) could no longer stand her life and wishes for goblins to take away her screaming baby brother. As she ends the story and turns off the light, she remarks, “I wish the goblins would come and take you away…right now”, whereupon Toby suddenly stops crying. Worried, Sarah enters his room, to find that Toby has vanished.

In Toby’s room, she gives him Lancelot, then returns to her room. As Sarah clears her dressing table, she seems confused about whether she has undergone the turning point in her life between childhood and adulthood. Hoggle appears, along with Ludo and Sir Didymus, as images in the mirror. They seem to be bidding her goodbye as she leaves behind the fantasies of childhood, but remind her that they will still be available “should you need us”. Sarah insists she presently needs them, whereupon they appear in her bedroom. The film closes as the Labyrinth’s creatures celebrate in her room. Outside, the owl Jareth watches the party and then flies away into the night.