The China-man's trick

The 2006 film about rival magicians desperately trying to learn the secrets of each others tricks.
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You should get warnings for this... like I did. ;)

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But i'm nice... i don't want any warnings.
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I found him you guys!!! (48 seconds in)

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author wrote:I would like to discuss the China-man's water trick.

In the film, the character's name is Chung Ling Soo. Cung Ling Soo was the stage name of a real magician. His 'secret' lasted until a fatal accident upon the stage. Chung Ling Soo was not Chinese at all and had always appeared in make-up in public. He spoke Chinese using an interpreter when speaking with journalists. He never spoke on stage. After being shot, he spoke on stage in English. Chung Ling Soo was really an American named William Robinson (1861-1922) who lived and performed as the Chinese magician.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chung_Ling_Soo

William copied not only the name but also the water bowl trick itself from Chung Ling Foo, a real Chinese magician. Apparently, Robinson became angry after performing Chung Ling Foo's trick. Chung Ling Foo had promised a payment of $1000.00 to anyone who could understand his trick and perform it (but it was just a publicity stunt). William Robinson died tragically, when a rigged gun discharged al bullet from the barrel next to the blank.Thus the inspiration for the mishap in the bullet catch scene.

"But, you want to be tricked."

Now for the tricky part. Borden seemed to understand at least part of the trick. Next, we see Angier walking with a large bowl between his legs. Now, where is the trick? That is not how the trick is performed. You were duped into believing that. There is no trap door either. Chung Ling Soo never brought the cover down far enough to touch the floor. Did Nolan deliberately trick the audience? Did Angier guess wrong or did Borden deliberately tell Angier the wrong solution?

I can post the real trick later, as I would like to have a few people think about how the trick was really performed.

Why did Nolan show us a fake solution?
The "trick" was that the Chinaman appeared to be a cripple. Thus make people wonder even MORE on "how the fk does he do it"? Angier was getting it right, but he gave up easily and understood that it would take YEARS to master.

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the china man's trick is foreshadowing of Borden's trick. Borden understood the trick before anybody else, so naturally he would apply the same technique to his life

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Yes indeed, Captain Obvious (for us that saw the movie more than once, anyway). -And the bird trick (where one bird was sacrificed for the trick) was a foreshadow of Angier's future. The Prestige is FILLED with these metaphors. Still, the Chinaman had great skills performing and leading people to believe he was crippled. And he was just ONE man as well. Borden was already in "double" character when they went to see the Chinaman. How he did the goldfish bowl trick was [still] something Cutter was keen on getting to know.

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You are missing the point. The trick can not be done the way Angier thought. The trick is not done in this manner. Even if Angiers solution was possible, only one trick at a time could be performed. The Chinaman's trick is usually one of two or three tricks. If Angier was correct, he would have to walk off-stage to reload every time.

The trick was shown very accurately, the cloth never touches the floor. A trap door is never used, no one hands up a bowl of fish. Penn and Teller did a twist on this trick, but it is far simpler and nothing like the real appearance of a bowl of fish.

PS the 'crippled' part of the trick, is to allow more time. (It is not because there is a huge bowl between his legs.)

This trick is still a closely guarded secret. Sorry if some of my posts give it away.

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The reason Nolan explained it the way he did is to enhance the story of Borden. He doesn't need to know what the actual trick is and furthermore, being able to tell how it really was performed isn't particularly relevant. If you know the trick and want to post it, nobody is stopping you. I can only speak for myself about this and I was never bothered whether or not it was really how it was done. It was a foreshadowing into Borden's insight over magic and performance. Period.

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author wrote:I would like to discuss the China-man's water trick.

In the film, the character's name is Chung Ling Soo. Cung Ling Soo was the stage name of a real magician. His 'secret' lasted until a fatal accident upon the stage. Chung Ling Soo was not Chinese at all and had always appeared in make-up in public. He spoke Chinese using an interpreter when speaking with journalists. He never spoke on stage. After being shot, he spoke on stage in English. Chung Ling Soo was really an American named William Robinson (1861-1922) who lived and performed as the Chinese magician.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chung_Ling_Soo
There's a few mistakes in what you wrote but it's true that the story is really interesting, and I thought you guys would enjoy it because it explains a lot of things and it's even kind of metaphorical regarding to the movie.

There were two magicians, the first one was Ching Ling Foo and was a real chinese magician, who was born in March the 11th of 1854 in Yang Tsnann, China. He was one of the first most famous oriental magicians and he even became the Court Conjurer of the Empress of China after he did a performance to the son of Prince Ching.

His famous tricks were appearances of large bowls of water followed by other stuff like birds and even small childrens. (For the record, these tricks were really popular back in the 19th century and you can refer to other famous artists like Jean Eugène Robert Houdin who had such tricks.)

So here, we can say that in the movie, that is Ching Ling Foo we are seeing. But wait ! We're not sure because the story implies a copycat, and that's where it's getting fascinating ;)

While he was in New York City, he offered a reward of $1,000 to anyone who could produce a bowl full of water like he did. That was more for publicity than a real challenge but an american magician called William Robinson didn't really knew that and he took Ching Ling Foo's challenge as a real one.

I'm not sure how much $1,000 represented back in the 19th century but I guess it's like we're saying nowadays : "Hey, I bet one million dollar you'll never be able to.... [fill the box with preferably a stupid and dangerous challenge]"

Anyway, let's get back to the story. Ching Ling Foo (the real chinese magician) refused to let William Robinson try for the reward.

IMO, he was probably afraid that William could succeed as there's often several methods to achieve an effect in magic nowadays (and I guess it was the same at the time) but William didn't let go. He decided to "transform" himself into Ching Ling Foo by creating another magician similar to the real one. He made others call himself Chung Ling Soo and the rivalry started.

See? That's exactly a metaphor of the rivalry Borden/Angier except for the fact that here, there was one trying to made himself look like the other one !

Anyway, back in 1905, it happened that the two magicians were performing in London claiming both to be "The Original Chinese Conjurer".

Of course, there was one lying and one telling the truth. Okay, hang out, the story is almost finished ;)

As they were together in the city, Ching Ling Foo (the real one, don't forget !) sent a challenge to the faker wich was saying "I offer £1,000 if Chung Ling Soo, now appearing at the Hippodrome, can do ten out of my twenty tricks, or if I fail to do any one of his feats."

It wasn't a bad idea at first, but in my opinion that was kind of dangerous because as I said, there often is several methods in order to achieve a trick. The method can even be sometimes completely different but that's the part of the conjuror to make it look the same. I won't start the subject here (If some people are interested, they can always PM me or ask a few questions here :) ) but I guess the idea was bad. You'll see why I'm right (Well, why I think I'm right !)

Each magician then was claiming the other was an impostor and when a date was settled, Chung Ling Soo (the copycat) was there but Ching Ling Foo never showed up.

How strange, right? I'm guessing the real one just realized that the faker was as good as him (maybe even better, who knows?) and he didn't want the public to know. He had been overwhelmed by his challenge and William Robinson was just a better magician...

Now you can see how this story is close to The Prestige one ! There's a few similarities as we're in the company of two men fighting for fame, and one trying to reproduce the other one tricks. The question we can ask ourselves here is "Is this the real chinese magician in the movie or was it William Robinson?". God, this movie will never reveal all his secrets ! Nolan was a pure genius on that one !

So, I hope you guys liked it, I was feeling a little writer tonight and I wanted to share the real story with you :-D (Apologies for the grammar errors but it's more complicated than you imagine to write in English for me!)


PS : Just another thing with the real chinese magician : he had a bit of trouble with the law in 1899 as his troupe was discharged, you can read an archive about that here : http://query.nytimes.com/mem/archive-fr ... 94689ED7CF

The story is really interesting between these two men, I hope you enjoyed the reading !

If you have any questions, feel free to ask.

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