The ending, a different intepretation

The 2006 film about rival magicians desperately trying to learn the secrets of each others tricks.
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George wrote:
The other piece you mention about Borden seeing Tesla’s show in the movie… we have no idea if that is his first time witnessing it or not.
The notion that you guys are putting forth about Borden being a set of clones really hinges upon this detail. And honestly I think the movie clearly presents it in a way where this was the first time Borden experienced Tesla's electricity. He only starts using the machine after this expo. If he had known tesla already, why not use it the first time? Plus, if he knew Tesla had cloning capability then why send Angier to him as a distraction? And why would there be any confusion to how Angier did his trick?

And the two brothers do show differences other than the way they treat the women. One brother can basically be generalized as the cockier one. Remember Cutter saying "some nights you just don't get it" in reference to the knot tying? One brother plays it safe with the knots while the other wants the riskier option.

f you're trying to arrive at a definitve intent by the screenwriters, I don't think they've made any assumptions about the nature of clones
Page 123 of the screenplay actually settles this whole debate:

His TWIN BROTHER, in identical stage clothes, uncurls himself
from the hidden compartment and hauls himself out.

Both Bordens are standing on the workbench. One brother is
gripping the other by his wrist and placing a CHISEL on his
finger.


Also when Angier clones himself (on page 125) he is referred to as ANOTHER ANGIER
The script does settle it, for sure.

And not to beat a dead horse, but I still don’t see where the film makes it clear either way for those that haven’t read the screenplay, and to be clear, I don’t think it should… I don’t see how the scene with Borden at Tesla’s show is in any way his definitive first meeting with Tesla. Nor do I think it matters if it is or not. If one assumes the clone theory, and assuming that Tesla is the one who is responsible for creating the Borden clone, how does him seeking a machine from a supposed former collaborator that just has some electrical bells and whistles mean he has never met him? or that he hasn’t been cloned prior to meeting him from one of his machines? He very easily could have been sitting through the show to meet with Tesla after, and you never see him actually meet with him, so you never see the nature of the relationship. Again, the point is, that there is nothing that directly indicates what the nature of the relationship or what the meeting is about in the film other than to show at some point they knew each other prior to sending Angier to him.

But you made me think of something new… why is Angier so convinced that he needs a machine from Tesla? When he saw Borden’s trick initially, there was no machine? So does he still not believe there’s a double? We may have just uncovered a flaw… this will require more thought.

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At first Tesla was only the keyword to Borden's diary. Then Angier safely assumed that it was Tesla that designed the visual sparkling with electricity device for Borden's trick, because Angier already was to Tesla's exhibition.

What made him go and see Tesla were three things.

1. He wanted to steal-copy Borden's trick and make it better
2. He probably thought that Tesla had some answers about the secret about Borden's trick.
3. He really thought the machine Borden already had wasn't only visually effective, but really transported people.

What happened when he went there?

-Tesla got slowed down with the production of the new machine for several reasons maybe. Angier wanted to steal Borden's trick and make it better, therefore Angier maybe wanted a different design of a machine, which prolly required more time. Tesla had some problems with Edisson's men which also made things longer I guess. And last but not least - Exact science is not an exact science, Mr. Angier. Which works both ways. This (1st) slowed him down and (2nd) made him design the machine differently so it probably malfunctioned and then stars somehow aligned and turned this malfunction into a cloning effect.
-Tesla looked surprised because he hadn't expected (1st) the at-first-obvious failure of the machine and (2nd) then he was surprised again when he saw that the machine actually cloned people. Seeing him surprised and confused and worried and pushed made Angier think that this isn't how it went when Tesla made the machine for Borden. Therefore he assumed that Borden doesn't have a clone. And if Tesla was really surprised and if this really happened for the first time then Borden didn't really have a clone, only a brother (which Angier was refusing to assume because this is the Double-theory Cutter suggested)


However... there's another side of this coin. One could fantasize even further and think about Tesla pulling a con and ACTING surprised, only to fool Angier. This would mean that Borden DID have a clone and his machine DID clone people and made a deal with Tesla that he'd fool Angier into thinkin' he doesn't which is an easy task even for a non-actor or non-showman as Tesla, because by what we've seen up to that moment - it doesn't take an actor to fool Angier. He was fooling himself from the begining fueling this feud even further.

Both cases would explain why Angier was still surprised that Borden had a brother/clone.
However the 2nd case is really not probable because of two reasons. 1st is the script ofc. 2nd is that we didn't really see Tesla's first creation make that much of a direct contact with Borden's body AND it was pretty smaller and simpler and therefore I don't really see Tesla's first creation as a possible cloning device.

Actually the machine from Borden's 2nd trick of the first transported man wasn't Tesla's first machine. He showed his first machine on the exhibition, which makes this one 2nd and Angier's one 3rd.

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catching up on this one had some good reading... I'm a big fan of this movie, and of Nolan.
When it comes to the clone vs. twin topic.. i'm on the twin side..
Having read the book long before the movie came out, as with the screen play that came post film release for me... well i thought it was a given... But even if you didn't read either of those, i thought Nolan foreshadowed it pretty well too...
First shots of the film with the top hats all over the ground, and then cut to cages filled with birds... all of the same type of birds... with the voice over "are you looking closely ?"...
Then the scene with the little girl.. after the "Transported Bird" effect... she asks "but what about it's brother?"... which brings a smile to Borden's face..
Then the whole bit with the old chinese man and his bowl of water... Borden understood .. The thing for me is.... say you have these two brothers.. twins in fact. When does Borden convince his brother that "Fallon" needs to be born... and the brothers become one... and not two.
Angier also had two identities as well.... The Lord born to the silver spoon. then the name used as to not to insult the family name with a career in magic and obsession... Angier. To which he admits at the end to Borden when he was behind bars, and Cutter found out first hand at the end as well when he looks upon the face of a dead man...
Good stuff.... but if you watch "The Prestige" and pay attention, all of the answers are givien, which is unlike "Inception"... but that's another thread...

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The twin/clone trick was never a secret. We all knew it was gonna be like this and so did Angier but he forced himself to doubt it and to refuse it as a truth. Cutter told him numerous times that Borden used a double (back then it wouldnt matter if its a double or a twin because... well it doesnt really matter because its how he does his trick which is supposed to be the trick). But if he agreed to realise that Borden really used a double then this would mean he already knew Borden's secret which would've been the end of his journey and he didn't want it to end. He got addicted to his own anger and lust for revenge and that's why he went on. Revenge and Anger (i doubt the name Angier is just a coincidence) were the only things that defined him after his wife's death. It was all he had. Just like the search for his wife's murderer was all Lenny had in Memento.

And that's the relation. He wanted to keep on fooling himself so he could keep on having a purpose. Everything was obvious right from the start. The funny thing about the movie (and what's also genius about it) that the viewers also knew about the clone/twin twist but all of them (me too ofc) said... "Naah it can't be it, it's too obvious... Or at least i hope this won't be the twist, Nolan isn't THAT predictive. I mean come on...". We wanted to be fooled as well and we did. To the very end most of us (i guess) thought that this won't be the ending and then we realised it really is the ending. I could hear Nolan saying "HA!".

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PrinceGotham and others:

I don't see why you feel that Angier 'fooled' himself.
I think he had some thoughts of a double (as the audience, yes, we knew it was a twin).
Except, first it was too smooth and seamless (unlike Angier's drunk double).
Secondly, Angier could not conceive the idea that Borden would let his brother chop his two fingers off.

But, my question is two-fold.

What did the narration mean that we (the audience) aren't really looking and want to be fooled?

Also, were we as the audience 'missing something' regarding the difficulty of filming The Prestige with only two of four actors?

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I've said it in all the other posts in this thread. The motive for 'wanting to be fooled' is different for everyone. The motive for the audience is - because it wants to be entertained. The motive for Lenny was pretty similar to the one for Angier. He wanted to go on. Lenny is a lot more excused if you ask me. Angier isn't. Lenny consciously exploited and cheated himself (almost as much as any other character in Memento took advantage of him), because he wouldn't want to risk not being right and not having a purpose.

Angier had to have a purpose. At first he did it because he wanted revenge for his wife. At the end it was all about revenge only. At first he cared about the secret. At the end he wasn't even interested in it. Him ruining AND ending Borden's life was enough for him which says pretty much enough as well. This is very straightforward. It spells out what he has become. Lenny didn't do that. For him it was survival and actions out of doubt and fear. In Angier's case it was cruelty.

Lenny fooled himself in a more literal manner. He -> fooled -> himself. People fooling him was pretty much inevitable given his condition and that excuses him. At the end he chose to fool himself because of the convenience of not remembering. No memories - no regrets. He coudln't make it better for himself so he chose not to make it worse. Even if he did the honorable thing he wouldn't remember. He doesn't even remember all the other dishonorable things he may have done up till that point. This is why his case was so desperate.

Angier's wasn't. He consciously chose to accept or deny truths. Consciously chose what to do. And got fooled by - his own emotions, obsessions, spouse, assistant and nemesis. How much of that was inevitable and how much of that he "allowed" is arguable. But he was fooled. And it all started with him wanting or accepting it.

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"You want to be fooled"

You said:
(It) is different for everyone. The motive for the audience is - because it wants to be entertained.

I do not have the motive to be tricked. Perhaps some people were 'tricked' into believing that real magic could happen, as in Angier's machine from Tesla. Do you mean that we don't want to believe that Angier had killed a hundred clones?

I also, do not see any link to Lenny from Memento. Very different characters and circumstances.

The second question still stands open: Were we as the audience 'missing something' regarding the difficulty of filming The Prestige with only two of four actors?

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You're really missing a lot of points here but i don't have the time to further explain what i've been explaining through the length of the whole thread and repeat it several times. Ask someone else.

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If we summarize the message of the twist-trick in one sentence it would sound something like "This point in the movie is a mirror pointed towards the audience, which can see itself in the image of Angier, having done the same he did -> denied the obvious and eventually got fooled"

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I guess the majority of viewers may have been fooled. I saw the obvious differences between Alfred and Freddy on my first viewing. I don't feel that I am "missing" something. Let's just say your clone agrees with me.

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I explained the three types of audiences in an ancient post maybe in this thread. There's always people in the audience that are not fooled or that are fooled at first but eventually get the point. Which is that the movie itself is a magic trick. You know it's fake, you're expecting a twist, you're expecting surprise, sometimes you know what's gonna happen, but even if it happens you still can't figure out how it happened. That's when you go back and start looking for the secret, but you prefer not to know it, because it would ruin everything. You want to be amazed and entertained.

I'll dissect it.



The viewer knows it's a movie -> fake.

The viewer knows there's gonna be a twist.

Some viewers predicted the twist and some didn't. Neither, though, are able to explain everything after one viewing. Neither is able to explain it without looking for the secret. Without going through the technical and narrative details of the movie/trick's structure. There are just too many questions. Knowing what happened at the end of the trick/movie, doesn't mean knowing how or why it happened. After the movie's twist few are able to comprehend right away that the movie is supposed to be the trick and that the twist isn't the whole trick. There's persistance, total devotion, intellect, obsession and so many other things involved. So many secrets that aren't obvious. In the end the twist doesn't matter. What matters is how the trick/movie got there. But not for all. Some people prefer not to know everything about a trick or a movie. Those that have both passion and interest though are willing to follow the path of the trick and the magician.


There's the fractal element again. A trick within a trick within a trick and so on and so on. Angier and Borden are like the two mirrors on the Paris bridge in Inception. And those two mirrors represented the relationship between Cobb and his projection of Mal. There are a lot of tiny references between all those movies and I cannot see how you can't understand the relation between these two and between Angier and Lenny for example. It's obvious. Even if it's the obsession element alone. And it isn't.

The audience is always missing something. Always. And that's the point. You can't 'not miss'.


And at the end Angier gave up on looking for the secret and chose to be entertained by his own superiority and triumph.

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prince0gotham wrote:In the end the twist doesn't matter. What matters is how the trick/movie got there.
+1 :clap:

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