April 20, 2008

The Pact of Acquiescent Sorcery

"Every word in this notebook that describes my life and work is true, honestly meant, and accurate in detail."
-- Alfred Borden, The Prestige, Christopher Priest
Yes, relatively speaking I suppose it's a bit late to discuss The Prestige, in any form, but I'm going to do it. In both forms, the base of the story is the same. They follow two rival late 19th century magicians through their rivalries - Alfred Borden, stage name
Le Professeur de la Magie, and Rupert Angier, stage name The Great Danton. Their secrets remain basically the same, with the major difference between the novel and the film being the framing of the story and, as such, the final outcome of the story.

The film makes use of the magician's journals to make a multi-tiered non-linear story from the story of their rivalry. The way in which these parts unfold mirrors that of each of a magician's tricks with a pledge, a turn, and a prestige. The movie also has, I feel, a great deal more moral ambiguity in its subject material, but I can't discuss it further without giving away the secret. The framing of the novel is that of a meeting between the great-grandchildren of Angier and Borden in near-modern times.

The source of the rivalry differs greatly. Whereas in the film it is due to a magical accident, in the book it is rooted in Angier's exploitation of Spiritualism for profit. The results of the rivalry also differs greatly, both in how it effects Angier and Borden and, because of their presence in the novel, their descendants.

I highly recommend both and if you don't have the time to set aside for reading the novel, I find the audio version to be of the highest quality.