The Prestige (film)

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Are you watching closely?
If anybody really believed the things I did on stage, they wouldn't clap, they'd scream.

The Prestige is a 2006 film about an ongoing rivalry between two magicians.

Directed by Christopher Nolan. Written by Jonathan Nolan and Christopher Nolan from the novel by Christopher Priest.


  • Are you watching closely?
  • The secret impresses no one. The trick you use it for is everything.
  • The sacrifice... that's the price of a good trick.
  • You went halfway around the world. You spent a fortune. You did terrible things. Really terrible things, Robert. And all for nothing.
  • We both had half of a full life, which was somehow enough for us. But not for them.
The only limits on scientific progress are those imposed by society. The first time I changed the world, I was hailed as a visionary. The second time I was asked politely to retire.
  • You're familiar with the phrase "Man's reach exceeds his grasp"? It's a lie. Man's grasp exceeds his nerve. The only limits on scientific progress are those imposed by society. The first time I changed the world, I was hailed as a visionary. The second time I was asked politely to retire. The world only tolerates one change at a time. And so here I am. Enjoying my "retirement". Nothing is impossible, Mr. Angier, what you want is simply expensive.
  • Don't forget your hat.
  • I hope you enjoy the mountain air, this will take some time.


  • Every great 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 if it is indeed real, unaltered, normal. But of probably isn't. 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".
    • Opening narration
  • Every magic trick consists of three parts, or acts. The first part is called the pledge, the magician shows you something ordinary. The second act is called the turn, the magician takes the ordinary something and makes it into something extraordinary. But you wouldn't clap yet, because making something disappear isn't enough. You have to bring it BACK. 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 work it out. You want to be fooled.
    • Closing narration


Judge: What a way to kill someone.
Cutter: They're magicians, your honor. Men who live by dressing up plain and simple truths to shock, to amaze.
Judge: Even without an audience?
Cutter: There was an audience. You see, this water tank was of particular significance to these two men. Particularly awful significance.

Alfred Borden: Everything's going to be alright, because I love you very much.
Sarah: Say it again.
Alfred Borden: I love you.
Sarah: Not today.
Alfred Borden: What do you mean?
Sarah: Well some days it's not true. Maybe today you're more in love with magic. I like being able to tell the difference, it makes the days it is true mean something.

Angier: I thought you said I'd have to get my hands dirty.
Cutter: Maybe someday you will; I just needed to know that you could.

Olivia Wenscombe: [referring to Angier] He wants me to come work for you and steal your secrets.
Alfred Borden: What does he need my secrets for? His trick is top-notch. He vanishes, and then he reappears instantly on the other side of the stage—mute, overweight, and unless I'm mistaken, very drunk. It's astonishing; how does he do it?

Sarah: Alfred, I can't live like this!
Alfred Borden: Well, what do you want from me?
Sarah: I want... I want you to be honest with me. No tricks, no lies, no secrets. (pause) Do you... do you love me?
Alfred Borden: Not today. No.

Cutter: Take a minute to consider your achievement. I once told you about a sailor who described drowning to me.
Angier: Yes, he said it was like going home.
Cutter: I was lying. He said it was agony.

Alfred Borden: So, we go alone now. Both of us. Only I don't have as far to go as you. Go. You were right, I should have left him to his damn trick. I'm sorry. I'm sorry for a lot of things. I'm sorry about Sarah. I didn't mean to hurt her, I didn't. You go and live your life in full now, all right? You live for both of us.
Fallon Borden: Goodbye.

Angier: [breathing heavily] Cutter knew. Cutter knew. But I told him it was too simple, too easy.
Fallon Borden: No... simple, maybe, but not easy. There's nothing easy about two men sharing one life.
[flashback showing one of the twins cutting the other twins' fingers off]

Fallon Borden: You went half way around the world, you spent a fortune, you did terrible things - really terrible things, Robert, and all for nothing.
Angier: For nothing?
Fallon Borden: Yeah
Angier: You never understood... why we did this. The audience knows the truth: The world is simple, miserable, solid all the way through. But if you can fool them, even for a second... then you can make them wonder. And you get to see something very special... You really don't know... It was the look on their faces.

Quotes about The Prestige

  • The pledge of Nolan's The Prestige is that the film, having been metaphorically sawed in two, will be restored; it fails when it cheats, as, for example, if the whole woman produced on the stage were not the same one so unfortunately cut in two. Other than that fundamental flaw, which leads to some impenetrable revelations toward the end, it's quite a movie — atmospheric, obsessive, almost satanic.


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