Thursday, December 4, 2008

"It was the look on their faces"


Anyone with an interest in the thorny philosophical question of personal identity will enjoy the The Prestige, which is also an excellent film. I have just finished watching it and will probably have nightmares...

NOTE - IF YOU HAVE NOT SEEN THIS FILM YET, DO NOT READ THE COMMENTS AS THEY WILL RATHER RUIN IT FOR YOU.

12 comments:

Kosh3 said...

lol.

Joe Otten said...

(spoiler)

...

Clearly that character hadn't read The Philosophy Files.

Phaedrus said...

We had to watch this for the personal identity unit in my "Philosophy in Film" class. It definitely details the philosophical problem extremely well. We also watched "Total Recall" and "Memento" for that unit. :)

Another great personal identity TV series that is out is called "My Own Worst Enemy". Kind of a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde spy series.

Mike said...

Awesome film, Nolan is a fantastic director.

geoff coupe said...

It's a film that repays several viewings. I've yet to tackle the book, but I'm sure it will be at least the equal...

Fergus Gallagher said...

What happened to all those hats? He could've made a fortune..

Paul P. Mealing said...

A very good movie. I saw it about a year ago, perhaps more.

Excellent cast, clever premise and superbly executed - what more do you want in a film.

Regards, Paul.

Joe Otten said...

Steady on all. I thought it was an OK movie, that made a very big deal of a character apparently not thinking at all about the identity question. Once he had copied himself the once, there was a much more painless way to do the trick. If you have a plan you want to pursue, you can be sure your copy, once made, will go along with it.

The Magicians with Mitchell and Webb was a much better movie, for different reasons.

Stephen Law said...

Yes it did occur to me why he didn't do what the first magician did - copy himself and then both be in on it. No need for any killing. Perhaps that option did not occur to him. Or perhaps he didn't want the complications of two of him being around. But that was a slight weakness in the script. Still, I'd give it 4.5 out of 5 overall.

Kyle said...

I thought the Christian Bale characters were brothers, not copies?

Stephen Law said...

Oh, maybe I misunderstood. I thought it was not a brother but a duplicate. After all, why else did he write down TESLA? Bit of a coincidence if it was his brother. But perhaps it was....

the repressed one said...

I always took it that the Christian Bale character played twin brothers, unbeknownst to the rest of the world (well, other than to their mother, I suppose!), whereas the Hugh Jackman character was the one eho ended up duplicating himself on the Tesla machine. (A fine turn by David Bowie, much to my wife's pleasure!)

As for why Bale wrote down TESLA, I always interpreted that as Bale trying to maintain the illusion that there was something other than the obvious (a twin) that was responsible for how he was able to perform the "Disappearing Man" trick and that he wanted to send Jackman off on a wild goose chase. The look of shock on Bale's face when he finally saw Jackman's, er, "legacy" in the final scene reinforced to me that he was surprised by something totally unexpected - "It was the look on their faces" encapsulated in that one defining moment.

Here's the one plot hole that I've not yet been able to solve, however. (MAJOR PLOT SPOILERS) When Bale sees Jackman's Tesla Disappearing Man trick go down in the basement, the Hugh Jackman character clearly looks totally surprised and terrified that he'd fallen into the water tank. And yet, if Jackman was the one who designed the trick and made all the arrangements for the tank to be disposed of, then why would he be surprised?

Also, there was a line Jackman gave at the end, "It took courage to climb into that box every night... not knowing if I'd be the Prestige... or the man in the box," that just never made sense to me, taken literally. The trick worked the same way everytime, so that means he shouldn't haven't been surprised, right?

The statement, taken from a personal identity POV, makes a little more sense, but it just doesn't seem to fit with what was on the screen.

Anywho, we still enjoyed the movie. It's one of those that if it's on HBO when we're channel-surfing that we will stop and watch it almost everytime. (Pulp Fiction being another one, btw...!)