Classic Rewatch

The Prestige

Are you watching closely?

Obsession and secrecy are at the forefront of The Prestige – Christopher Nolan’s (often forgotten) magic-themed psychological thriller, our #ClassicRewatch for the week. Nolan, who recently celebrated his 50th birthday, made The Prestige in-between Batman Begins and The Dark Knight (sort of as a Caped Crusader palette cleanser), and it was critically well-received but not as big a success as some of his later films would go on to be. Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale star as competing magicians Robert Angier and Alfred Borden, who develop a rather unhealthy relationship after a trick goes fatally wrong – and it only gets worse when Borden develops an amazing trick that Angier obsesses over replicating. What follows are your typical Nolan trappings of twists, Michael Caine appearances, jumping timelines, gorgeous visuals, David Bowie and a killer ending. ⠀

But did you know…⠀

1) Nolan and his brother Jonathan worked on the script for five years. Nolan initially pitched the film, based on a book, to his brother before he went on to direct Insomnia. After Nolan wrapped, he again worked on The Prestige before being given the Batman franchise to reboot.⠀

2) 90% of the film was shot on handheld cameras. Despite directing what is essentially a period piece, Nolan wanted a modern approach to The Prestige’s visual aesthetic. Director of Photography Wally Pfister said that they wanted to achieve a “naturalistic style, but [Nolan] also wanted to be able to block actors as he saw fit, and for the camera to be able to move around and keep up with that in a handheld style”. ⠀

3) Nolan’s casting choice for the innovative mastermind Nikola Tesla was an odd one, but he was adamant David Bowie was the only guy for the role. “[Tesla] has to present an extraordinarily charismatic and noticeable presence in the film”, said Nolan. “I wanted somebody who wasn’t a movie star; somebody who’s charismatic and had this sort of star quality in a slightly different way.” After meeting with Nolan, Bowie agreed to star within minutes. ⠀

Our clip is the “Director’s Handbook” featurette, released on the Blu-ray edition of the film. ⠀