Questions about the Prestige--Gigantic unboxed spoilers.

This is a dummy post for mouseovers. If you haven’t seen this movie and might want to someday STOP READING THIS THREAD. seriously, the next post gives away the ending. You’ve been warned.





OK, at the end, we learn that Borden (Christian Bale) is actually twins. I’m not sure which twin got hanged, but what was in it for him? Was it just a noble sacrifice for his brothers sake, or just that he didn’t have any escape? He seemed awful calm for someone being unjustly hanged.

Also, how did Angier know which of his bio-duplicated selves–tis an evil hammock, Mr. Simpson–was “real?” Both the kitty cats in Tesla’s experiment seemed to regard themselves as real. Wouldn’t he basically be drowning himself every time he performed his illusion?

And why did they hang Borden in the theater? Aren’t most executions performed at the prison?

You mean, why didn’t he reveal he had a twin? What good would it have done him? He was arrested at the theater with Angier’s corpse, and taken straight to prison. Spilling the secret that he has a twin wouldn’t have gotten him out of the noose, it just would have spilled the secret to their great trick.

They were both the “real” Angier, so yes, he was commiting suicide every time he used the machine.

They did hang him in the prison, not the theater.

As I understood it, the “real” Angier was the one who dropped into the water each night to drown, so that the twin could magically reappear elsewhere. The amazement was that he was willing to do this to himself, and that he was willing to use real magic (the duplicating machine) for just a magic show (albeit an amazing one), as opposed to the humanitarian or greedy purposes he could have used it for.

My take on it was that they were both the “real” Angier, but you’re right, the “original” ended up in the tank. Tesla said about the hats, “They’re all my hats.” (or something similar). So the copy is as much real as the original.

I read the wiki article on the book version of Prestige which says:

So in the original, book, the real one is meant to be the one that gets transported and lives. I guess by not saying that, the film makes it more ambiguous–and much creepier.

Haven’t read the book, but in the movie the subject isn’t cold and lifeless, it is another fully-realized human. IIRC, though, in the movie, Angier mentions that he was always scared that “he” (meaning the Angier consciousness that was alive before the trick was done) would not find himself transported, but instead drowning in the tank. So while both Angiers appear to be full humans (judging by the drowning Angiers obvious conscious struggles in the tank), either one of two things is happening:

  • Either the Angier that was alive before the trick is the one transported, and the drowning Angier had a different consciousness/sense of self


  • BOTH Angiers think they are “The” Angier - it just so happens that one is killed, leaving one who can legitimately think of themselves as The Angier…

As for Bale’s character, I think **Miller ** has it…

I can’t remember the exact quote, but I’m pretty sure Angier made a comment about how the “real” him was always the one in the spotlight at the end of the trick, the “prestige”. Assuming that each copy is exactly the same (including memory), this would actually get reinforced each time he did the trick.

In the first performance, the original Angier is dropped into the water tank, the copy appears on the balcony. The next time, Angier (the copy from the first trick), drops into the tank and copy #2 appears on the balcony, but he remembers both appearances. At the end, Angier (who is now a copy of a copy of a copy of a copy of a copy…) remembers only a string of “prestiges”, since the memory of dropping through the trap door is killed with that copy.

Of course, this was switched during Angier’s very first test (not a performance). He got into the machine, ran it, then after seeing his double, the one in the machine shot the copy. I guess the rule was “whoever survives is the “real” me…”

Whoa. Yes, much creepier. Having to cold-heartedly kill off the “original” you (or choose to commit suicide, depending on your perspective) is a lot different from simply disposing of a lifeless shell.

I like the idea of Angier “murdering himself” better than the scenario from the book as well. What I still don’t get is why he kept all the corpses of his clones, and apparently built a new tank for every performance. If that final scene was just to clarify things to the viewer, I’m disappointed that the director couldn’t come up with a better way to do it.

I didn’t think it needed clarifying, so I found that bit at the end a little heavy-handed. Obviously he’d have to hide the bodies - not only would it give away the trick, it would also exonerate the other guy and probably send him to the gallows as a murderer. Keeping them around isn’t exactly hiding them, and building new tanks is expensive and a pain. Not to mention, wouldn’t that storage room get pretty gross over time?

I loved Michael Cain’s little vengeance on him, when he told him that he’d lied about how drowning felt. That was sweet.

Angiers has gone pretty far 'round the bend by the end of the movie. It’s possible that there is no rational reason for him to have kept all those bodies, it was just an expression of the general madness that had consumed him.

Speculatively, he might have had a plan to dispose of the bodies, but for whatever reason, it would only have worked once, so he had to wait until the show ended its run, when he could get rid of all of them at once.

The ultimate reason for it, though, was that the director wanted to end his movie with a powerful visual image, and the burning theater filled with floating corpses certainly was that. It also allowed at least one other character in the movie to get a full understanding of the scope of Angiers’ obsession. I think he wanted that reaction shot from Borden more than anything else, and having all those tanks sitting around was the most economical way of doing it within the framework of a motion picture.

Thanks for all the replies. Angier basically repeatedly drowing himself for glory–prestige–freaks me out. Reading the wiki synopsis, I guess there’s a symmetry between one of the Borden’s hanging to make up for “his” wife’s suicide.