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  • Writer's pictureShannon Heibler

The Prestige (2006)

2006 seems like a lifetime ago. I guess in a lot of ways it was.

Whenever I watch this movie, I wish I was watching it for the first time. I don't know that there's any other movie I feel that way about. I love rewatching movies. I love the familiarity. I've come to understand that that's symptomatic of the deep anxiety I deal with - familiarity means no surprises. But The Prestige is such a wild ride. It also stands apart from other films in that I was unable to predict any of it. I love Joseph Campbell and, not to toot my own horn, I can figure out the twists and turns of a well built story just because they all have a lot in common. However, one of my favorite traits about myself is my ability to get caught up in good storytelling. A plot can have the most contrived, overused elements, but if the storytelling is good, I am easily blown away. It allows me to live more of my life in a state of delight which is how I like it. The Prestige is both uncommon narrative and exceptional storytelling.

And even though I know what the prestige of The Prestige is now, it still manages to take my breath away. I felt absolutely gutted, during this viewing, when the little boy says of the living bird, "but what about his brother?" GUTTED.

I've grown really weary of Christopher Nolan movies (and Christian Bale... and Hugh Jackman... and...) but this one holds up. The pacing, the camera movements, the cinematography, all bonkers good. Thinking about it now, I'm realizing how much work is done, through the camera, to lull you into a rhythm that allows the end to really knock you out of your seat. The way Angier and Borden (and Fallon) are revealed in the audience each time in particular. The movie is structured like the three parts of a trick - both in the overall arc and in each scene. It's remarkable.

The casting is terrific too. Honestly, the whole reason I watched this the first time was because the absolutely inspired choice to have David Gosh Darn Bowie play Nikola Tesla.

Except dinosaurs.

I realized in this viewing that I don't give Andy Serkis enough credit. I think I gave him short shrift because of all the mocap work he was doing but when you look at his performance here and his work in, say, Black Panther, he has serious chops.

Michael Caine can do no wrong. I don't totally understand his character, particularly the moral compass, but I'll watch Michael Caine do anything, any time.

I watched Tick Tick Boom recently and hated it because I'm sick to death of the trope of the tortured artist/genius particularly when it's a straight white guy who treats everyone around him like crap/fodder for his genius. The Prestige handles that same trope so interestingly. We see "two" men who are driven by ambition and a desire for greatness but they're so different. Angier wants revenge, Borden wants to push his own limits but also the limits of magic in general. Angier is driven by applause but Borden doesn't seem to even track it. Angier's final speech about seeing the look on the faces of the audiences strikes me as so delusional because he doesn't do anything for the audience. The audience merely serves the purpose of delivering the man in the prestige the accolades. (I'm also Very Amused by how many phrases Angier took from the people around him and paraphrased to mean something totally different and I'm irritated I cannot remember specific lines right now.) And it made me think about so many artists I know and which type they fall into. I'm a Borden, hardcore. I just want to see what I can do and how well I can do it. But the Borden lifestyle is clearly not without its pitfalls. So much can fall by the wayside in the pursuit of that reach/grasp. I would like to think I've put that kind of careless pursuit behind me but I know it lurks. I know it.

I don't have anything particularly eloquent to say about it but in the week I've been thinking about this I keep thinking about how great it is that Angier is showmanship forward and his name is The Great Danton (I cannot say it without overexaggerating the French and making a dopey little face) and Borden is all about technique and exploration and his stage name is The Professor. I just think it's neat.

Digital drawing


-I was feeling reeeeeeeeaaaaalllllllllly rusty on Procreate when I got started with this one so I'm very proud of how it turned out in the end.

-Those hats though. Ugh. *stink face*

-I could have worked forever on this, adding little details, but this afternoon, I was working on it for my lunch break and thought, "Am I done?" and then I got a notification that my hold for the novel was ready to pick up at the library. I'd planned on reading it after I was done and that was all the sign I needed.

-I really like how the birds turned out. *shrug*

-While I leaned on the symmetrical drawing assist A LOT here, there's a number of things I changed so it's not totally symmetrical. Can you find them?

-I hope this leads to more and regular digital drawing. I want to get confident with color and layers next.

Give me your hands, if we be friends. Next week, just in time for Valentine's Day, we'll be watching William Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream (the Kevin Kline, Stanley Tucci one - don't at me, those are my favorite performances in that movie). I know a lot of people hate it but I have such fondness for it.

I hope you have a good week. Things feel so heavy right now. Everyone around me seems so burnt out. It'll get better. I know it.

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