The Prestige is a 2006 mystery thriller film directed by Christopher Nolan, with a screenplay adapted from Christopher Priest's 1995 novel of the same name. The story follows Robert Angier and Alfred Borden, rival stage magicians in London at the end of the 19th century. Obsessed with creating the best stage illusion, they engage in competitive one-upmanship with tragic results.
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Magician Alfred Borden (Christian Bale) is on trial for murder, accused of killing his lifelong rival, Robert Angier (Hugh Jackman). They first began working together as ringers for Milton the Magician (Ricky Jay), with John Cutter (Michael Caine) as Milton's engineer of illusions. Angier's wife Julia (Piper Perabo) drowns while performing a predicament escape from a Chinese water torture cell; Angier suspects Borden purposely bound her wrists with a difficult knot, making him responsible for her death. At the funeral, Borden enrages Angier by saying he does not know which knot he tied.
The two men begin competing magic careers: Borden becomes "The Professor" and hires Bernard Fallon as his engineer; Angier performs as "The Great Danton" with Cutter and his assistant, Olivia Wenscombe (Scarlett Johansson). During a parlor magic job, Borden meets Sarah (Rebecca Hall); they marry and have a daughter, Jess. Both magicians begin to disrupt each other's acts: Angier interferes with Borden's performance of the bullet catch, severing two of Borden's fingers, and a disguised Borden sabotages Angier's performance of the vanishing bird cage illusion, damaging Angier's reputation.
Borden soon astonishes crowds with his new illusion, "The Transported Man". Angier hires a double and steals Borden's act, calling it "The New Transported Man". Obsessed with knowing the secret, Angier sends Olivia to spy on Borden. Olivia provides Angier with Borden's enciphered diary, but she falls in love with Borden and double-crosses Angier, allowing Borden to sabotage Angier's act, which cripples Angier's left leg. In return, Angier and Cutter capture Fallon and bury him alive inside a coffin. To ensure Fallon's release, Angier demands the key to Borden's illusion. Borden gives him the word "TESLA", and suggests that it is the transposition cipher of Borden's notebook and the key to the illusion.
Angier travels to Colorado Springs to meet Nikola Tesla (David Bowie) to try to learn the secret of Borden's illusion, paying Tesla to construct a teleportation machine. Angier learns from Borden's notebook that he has been sent on a wild goose chase. Feeling cheated, he returns to Tesla's lab to demand his money back, but discovers Tesla's machine creates an exact duplicate of an object and leaves the original intact. Tesla leaves Colorado Springs after his rival, Thomas Edison, sends henchmen to torch Tesla's lab; he leaves Angier an improved version of the machine, but warns him to destroy it.
Borden's relationship with Olivia takes a heavy emotional toll on Sarah, and she eventually hangs herself. Angier returns to London to produce his new act, "The Real Transported Man". Borden attends Angier's performance again and slips backstage just in time to see Angier fall from a trap door into a locked water tank. Borden tries to save him, but Angier drowns before his eyes. Cutter catches Borden, and he is convicted of murder and sentenced to death.
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