Chung Ling Soo was a stage character created by William Ellsworth Robinson, a white man who disguised himself as a Chinese man to cash in on audiences' enthusiasm for the exotic. Robinson lived as Chung, never breaking character while in public. He died in March 1918, when a bullet-catch trick went wrong. "My God, I've been shot" were both his last words and the first English he had spoken on stage in nineteen years.
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Nikola Tesla was a world-renowned inventor, physicist, and engineer. For a while, he conducted electrical experiments at his lab in Colorado Springs, where he was also known for his eccentric behavior.
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The word "prestige" originally meant a trick, from the Latin "praestigium", meaning "illusion".
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The editing includes one hundred forty-six time jump cuts, in which the next shot either flashes back or skips ahead to another time period of the storyline. This averages to almost one timeline jump per minute of movie.
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Sam Mendes wanted to do this movie as his follow-up to American Beauty (1999), which had just been nominated for seven Academy Awards. Another offer came from Newmarket Films on behalf of writer, producer, and director Christopher Nolan, of whom author Christopher Priest had never heard. Priest was prepared to close the deal with Mendes when a VHS copy of Nolan's Following (1998) was delivered to his house by motorcycle (Memento (2000) was still in post-production). Priest was impressed, and chose Nolan (in part to also support a new filmmaker over an established one).
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Alfred Borden's infant was played by one of writer, producer, and director Christopher Nolan's children.
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This is one of three 2006 movies to feature magic and magicians as main characters. The other two are The Illusionist (2006) and Scoop (2006) (which also starred Hugh Jackman and Scarlett Johansson).
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Ricky Jay, who played a magician in this movie, coached Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale in their sleight-of-hand techniques.
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The in-the-hands vanishing bird cage was developed and performed successfully for many years by Harry Blackstone, Sr. His son, Harry Blackstone, Jr. also performed the trick successfully for many years.
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The main characters' initials spell "ABRA" (Alfred Borden Robert Angier), as in abracadabra, a common word used by magicians.
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When Alley (Andy Serkis) is introduced, he makes a reference to a magic trick in which one person guesses the item in a person's pocket. The same trick fooled Serkis' character Gollum in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012).
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Alfred Borden takes on the stage name of "The Professor". This is the nickname that was given to many magicians at this time (Professor Hoffman, Professor Otto Hermann Professor Tucan) Dai Vernon. Most notably, Dai Vernon bore the nickname, the man many consider to be the best modern-day sleight-of-hand magician.
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In the bullet-catching scene, Harry Dresden is on the list of performers under "The Professor". Dresden is a fictional wizard in "The Dresden Files", a series of books by Jim Butcher, and the basis of The Dresden Files (2007).
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Included amongst the "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die", edited by Steven Schneider.
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This was writer, producer, and director Christopher Nolan's lowest-rated movie on Rotten Tomatoes, at 76%. It has since been surpassed by Interstellar (2014), at 71%.
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Scarlett Johansson and Rebecca Hall appeared together two years later in Vicky Cristina Barcelona (2008) and would go on to make appearances in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
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When Alfred is in prison, his inmate number is D-23. The movie was released by Touchstone Pictures, a Disney subsidiary. D-23 is the official Disney Fanclub; 23 refers to 1923, the year Walt Disney opened the studio.
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When Robert Angier arrives in Colorado Springs he is actually arriving at the Darien Ranch in the town of Marble in western Colorado where the Prestige was filmed. Colorado Springs is located in eastern Colorado. The main ranch house and barns were digitally erased and train tracks added. There are no railroad tracks located there.
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The cast includes two Oscar winners, Christian Bale and Sir Michael Caine, and two Oscar nominees, Hugh Jackman and Scarlett Johansson.
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This is one of two Christopher Nolan movies in which a character has a two-headed coin. The other one was The Dark Knight (2008), in which Harvey Dent a.k.a. Two-Face used one to decide his fate or the fate of his victims.
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Six of this movie's stars played roles in several comic book movies. Christian Bale and Sir Michael Caine appeared as Batman and Alfred respectively in Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight trilogy. Hugh Jackman played Wolverine in the X-Men film franchise. Scarlett Johansson played Black Widow in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Rebecca Hall appeared as Maya Hansen in Iron Man 3 (2013). Andy Serkis played Captain Haddock in The Adventures of Tintin (2011), as well as Ulysses Klaue in Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015) and Black Panther (2018).
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Josh Hartnett was considered for the part of Robert Angier.
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One of two movies released in the fall of 2006 that featured Hugh Jackman and Andy Serkis. The other being Flushed Away (2006).
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This the only non-Batman movie to date on which Christian Bale worked with writer, producer, and director Christopher Nolan.
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Christian Bale's character is named Alfred. In Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight trilogy, Bale plays Bruce Wayne, whose butler, played by Sir Michael Caine, is named Alfred.
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David Bowie initially declined the role of Nikola Tesla when it was offered to him. Christopher Nolan flew out to him personally to tell him that he was the only person he imagined for the role, and that his larger than life persona would make the idea of Tesla building a teleportation device believable. Upon hearing this, David Bowie changed his mind and took the role.
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Sarah's line, "I know what you are.", was not in the script. Rebecca Hall said that she felt terrible right after she said it, thinking she had given away the ending.
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When Tesla's machines are being exhibited in the Royal Albert Hall, a man in the audience protests that Tesla's electrical current is unstable. Later in the movie, the same man appears in Colorado Springs as one of Edison's associates, thus proving that magicians are not the only ones who hide within their rivals' audiences.
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It is hinted at in this movie and confirmed in the novel that the twins are named Albert and Frederick Borden, hence "Alfred" Borden.
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Early on in the movie, Sarah's nephew asks of the bird, "Where's his brother?" Foreshadowing the fact that Borden has a twin brother.
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Root, Angier's on-stage double, announces that he has played Faust and Caesar in the past. Both characters were destroyed by their own ambition, as is Angier.
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The use of twins in a "transported man" magic show was, in fact, quite common when the movie takes place.
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In the novel the machine works a bit differently than in the film. It doesn't copy a person exactly as they are, memories and personality intact, 50 to 100 feet away from the device's location. Instead it does in fact transport the essence of the person into a newly created body leaving behind a seemingly dead husk. These dead husks are what Angier refers to as his "Prestige materials" in the novel.
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In the novel the Borden twin who sneaks under the stage is not framed by Angier and does in fact wreck the "Transported Man" trick. His interference creates two Angiers, one sickly at having had half his essence taken out of him, the other a wraith-like being who can only be somewhat solid through intense concentration.
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In the novel, Borden and Angier's rivalry began when Borden wrecks a fake seance Angier is conducting. Injuring, but not killing, his wife in the process.
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Angier's double mumbles a few lines from a speech while rehearsing on stage before his first performance. What he is saying is actually the words of Harry Percy (Hotspur) from William Shakespeare's Henry IV, when called to appear before the King and explain his failure to turn over prisoners after a recent battle in Scotland. Apparently, Hugh Jackman used this speech in previous auditions. Presumably, it was believed that having the double deliver a few lines from Shakespeare would lend him an actorly air, as his character is, in fact, a dissolute stage actor.
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