The Prestige: Magic Tricks & Film in 3 Acts


Film and magic are surprisingly similar. Both require a sense of showmanship, withholding information from the audience to make the greater illusion have more of an impact. In a magic trick, the magicians use slight of hand and misdirection to guide an audience along, following their step-by-step process until the reveal of something unthinkable. They’ll keep your eye on one card, or keep getting the card you chose wrong, so in that final moment, when they in fact knew your card all along, they leave you in awe. A story in a movie isn’t all that different; they can’t just tell you in the beginning of The Empire Strikes Back that Darth Vader is Luke’s father, because then why would we care? Instead, Empire takes you on a journey, capitalizing on a point of misdirection from the previous film - that Vader killed Luke’s father, right? Making the film’s climatic reveal one of the most powerful in cinematic history. There is a film in particular that understands that middle chunk of the Magic/Film Venn diagram better than most: Christopher Nolan’s, The Prestige.