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Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Review: The Prestige

I first read the novel The Prestige some time around 1998 or 1999 through a friend I met on the train. When I heard that Christopher Nolan had made The Prestige [Blu-ray]into a movie, I made up my mind that I would like to see it. But things being what they were, I didn't get around it until now.

Most movie adaptations of novels are lackluster. I wondered how the movie would do in this case, partly because the prose of the novel was turgid because the novel also aimed to pull one over the reader's eyes as well, while remaining fair enough an intelligent reader could figure out what the Prestige was. (The prestige is the final act of a magic show, where the magician produces whatever he made disappear) And yes, I did figure out what the prestige was, so it was fair.

Well, the movie does reproduce the novel remarkably well, and once again, an intelligent viewer who pays attention will definitely has all the clues he or she needs in order to figure out the trick. The actors are great, and I definitely loved the portrayal of the rivalry between Jackman and Bale's characters. There are a few changes from the novel, but none of them are outrageous.

I think the biggest problem deciding between the novel or the movie is that you can only experience the reveal once, in whatever form. Once you've read the novel, then the movie won't hold any mysteries for you, and vice-versa, so you have to be very careful in deciding which you should sample first. Given that the prose of the novel was deliberately turgid, in this case I recommend that you watch the movie first, which will likely motivate you to spend the extra time required to read the novel. If you think that means that I have high praise for the movie, you're right. I'm quickly becoming a Christopher Nolan fan!

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