The Prestige

Synopsis: In the end of the Nineteenth Century, in London, Robert Angier, his beloved wife Julia McCullough and Alfred Borden are friends and assistants of a magician. When Julia accidentally dies during a performance, Robert blames Alfred for her death and they become enemies. Both become famous and rival magicians, sabotaging the performance of the other on the stage. When Alfred performs a successful trick, Robert becomes obsessed trying to disclose the secret of his competitor with tragic consequences.
Genre: Drama, Mystery, Sci-Fi
Director(s): Christopher Nolan
Production: Buena Vista Pictures
  Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 5 wins & 37 nominations.
Rotten Tomatoes:
130 min

Are you watching closely?

Every magic trick consists

of three parts, or acts.

The first part is called "the pledge."

The magician shows you

something ordinary.

A deck of cards, a bird or a man.

He shows you this object.

Perhaps he asks you to inspect it,

to see that it is indeed real,

unaltered, normal.

But, of course, it probably isn't.

Where do you think you're going?

I'm part of the bloody act, you fool.

The second act is called "the turn."

The magician takes

the ordinary something

and makes it do

something extraordinary.

Now you're looking for the

secret, but you won't find it,

because, of course,

you're not really looking.

You don't really want to know.

You want to be... fooled.

But you wouldn't clap yet,

because making something

disappear isn't enough.

You have to bring it back.

That's why every magic trick

has a third act.

The hardest part.

The part we call...

..."the prestige."

The prestige? And did Robert

Angier, the Great Danton, your employer,

get to that final part

of his trick that night?

- No, sir. Something went wrong.

- What went wrong?

I saw someone making

their way below stage.

I followed him.

It was Borden,

watching Mr. Angier drown.

Would you please describe

your occupation to the jury, Mr. Cutter.

I'm an ingnieur, I design illusions

and construct the apparatus

necessary for performing them.

So, Mr. Cutter, was this

water-filled tank beneath the stage

part of Mr. Angier's illusion?

No. The tank was brought

on for the first trick

and then taken offstage.

Borden must have placed it

under the trap door after the end of it.

How large was this tank?

It's a normal tank

for escape under water,

about 400 or 500 gallons.

How do you think he

was able to move the tank

under the trap door

without anyone noticing?

He's a magician, ask him.

I ask again,

would this man explain the mechanics

of Mr. Angier's illusion.

The Real Transported Man is one

of the most sought after illusions

in this business.

I have the right to sell it on.

If I reveal the method here,

the trick is worthless.

How can we know

that the tank wasn't simply

some part of the trick that went wrong?

Mr. Cutter, I see your predicament.

But Alfred Borden's life

hangs in the balance.

If you were prepared to disclose

the details to me in private,

I might be able to judge

their relevance to the case.

Might this be an acceptable compromise?

I'm going to have to ask

you to turn out your pockets.

Not my idea, sir. The warden saw

his show in Manchester last year

where he vanished into thin air.

He's convinced he'll try and escape.

I told him the only way

Borden's going to disappear

is if I leave him out there

with the other inmates.

Check the locks...


My name is Owens.

I'm a solicitor.

I represent Lord Caldlow, an

accomplished amateur magician and...

How much?

- He is interested...

- How much for my tricks?

Five thousand pounds.

Talk to Fallon, my ingnieur.

Money's for him.

Yes, I did. He offered

to sell me your tricks.

All except the most valuable

one, The Transported Man.

Well, I won't forgive myself

for selling my greatest trick.

Even for your daughter?

If you are for the drop, your daughter

is going to need looking after.

Fallon will take care of her.

Perfect, Fallon.

A man with a past

as obscure as your own.

The courts have motioned she be removed

from his care. She will be an orphan.

I know you're no stranger

to the workhouse.

It's better than here?

I'm offering you a way to wrap up

your affairs with dignity.

I'm offering your daughter a future.

As Lord Caldlow's ward,

she will want for nothing...


Well, think it over.

And Lord Caldlow

would like you to have this,

as a show of good faith.

It might be of interest.

Robert Angier's diary, including

the time he spent in Colorado

learning your trick.

- He never learned it.

- Really?

On his return, he mounted

a version of The Transported Man

that the papers said was

better even than your original.

If you want Angier's secrets,

you go dig him up and ask him yourself.

I want your secret, Mr. Borden.

Consider your daughter.

A cipher,

an enigma...

...a search,

a search for answers.

Even if Colorado

is the end of my journey,

it'll take much longer to unravel

the rest of Borden's secrets.

See, the cipher in his notebook is

unlocked by a single word,

but it will still take months

to translate his writing.

And to know his mind.

Well, my passion is equal to the task.

Mr. Angier, welcome

to Colorado Springs.

- The whole town has electricity.

- Yes, sir.


...quite a reception.

You're our first guest

of the season, Mr. Angier.

Your telegram didn't indicate

how long you'd be staying with us.

As long as it takes.

I will need a coach tomorrow

to take me up the mountain.

Well, the peak's closed, sir.

For scientific experimentation.

Yes, I know.

That's why I'm here.

Whoa. Whoa.

You'll have to walk

the rest, I'm afraid, sir.

I'm amazed how many

of you newspaper writers

can't read my sign.

Not the welcome I was expecting.

I know you.

You're the Great Danton.

I saw your show in London.

Seven times you guessed every object

the audience had in their pockets.

I'm Alley. Sorry about the fence.

People keep interfering with our work.

- I've come to see Tesla.

- Why?

He made a machine

for a colleague of mine some time ago.

Rate this script:4.3 / 3 votes

Jonathan Nolan

Jonathan "Jonah" Nolan (born 1976) is a British-American screenwriter, television producer, director and author. He is the creator of the crime drama series Person of Interest. He has co-written several screenplays with his elder brother, filmmaker Christopher Nolan, including The Dark Knight, The Dark Knight Rises, and Interstellar, and his short story "Memento Mori" was the basis for Memento. more…

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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