Picofarad #7 Movie review

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The Prestige (2006)

Directed by Christopher Nolan
Running time: 128 minutes

All right, so I knew what I was in for. I went to see this movie knowing that the story from the book would have been largely discarded, the characters would have been changed, that vast plot holes would have been opened up in the name of directorial originality or something like that. I went anyway. Why? Because I was intrigued by the idea of David Bowie playing Nikola Tesla.

On that front, there are no disappointments. Bowie is absolutely perfect as Tesla. He looks and acts like a man of Tesla's time, he even has a convincing accent, and generally comes across as a far better actor than any of the leads except Michael Caine.

A lot of people are comparing this movie to a magic trick. All right, consider this: A successful trick requires attention to detail to create a convincing illusion. Here we have a group of people living in the late Victorian era, and they talk like they're chatting at a 21st-century dinner party. Here we have a man losing two fingers, but he clearly has ten in practically every scene which takes place afterward. Here's one of the magicians writing in his notebook-- but you can see the modern pink and blue lines on it.

Oh, the story? It's still about two rival magicians, Alfred Borden (Hugh Jackman) and Rupert Angier (Christian Bale), and the trick of apparent teleportation that each tries to steal from the other. We first see them as Borden creeps backstage to try to unravel Angier's version, only to find Angier drowning in a tank underneath the stage. The rest of the story unfolds with Borden's trial for murdering Angier providing the framing story.

I thought maybe seeing a movie adaptation of a book I wasn't deeply in love with would make the inevitable alterations less painful, but it was still a real disappointment to find that the part of the story I'd found most engaging had been made impossible straight off. Actually, I've revised my opinion of the book. After watching this movie, it looks brilliant in comparison. Go check it out.

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