Why the Prestige is unlike any other Christopher Nolan movie

Originally published at: Why the Prestige is unlike any other Christopher Nolan movie | Boing Boing


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Blockquote Although the quality of Nolan’s movies has remained generally consistent throughout his career …

Are you kidding me? I vaguely remember The Prestige, and liking it. I thought that his first (?) film, Following, was fantastic. I enjoyed Memento – an ingenious device and a compelling story. But other than that, his “big” films are bloated, too taken with their own cleverness, dull, no interesting dialog or characters. Inception. Interstellar, Tenet (which I confess I did not see, the trailer was more than enough). Interstellar, in particular, was just a terrible movie. Yes, I know that he consulted world class physicists. Who cares, the story was idiotic, the dialog was turgid, and the cliches – the cliches just didn’t stop. I have never felt such loathing for such an acclaimed movie.

He might make much better films again if his budget were reduced by 90%.


One thing to note (which I don’t think is mentioned) is that another reason it is not like any other Nolan movie is that it wasn’t based on his (or his brother’s) ideas, but adapted from a novel.
To be fair, it’s also one of the best novel adaptations out there - completely true to the source material* and yet also clearly a movie - but I do wonder if one of the reasons it is as good as it is, is precisely because Nolan clearly wanted to do the book justice.

*I love the original book, and I also love the movie even though I understand exactly why Nolan had to lose what might be argued to be the most important bit of the story.


I enjoy many of his films, even the big bloated blockbusters. I actually quite liked Tenet but I can completely understand why people wouldn’t like it. In many ways it’s like “let’s take the amnesia/unaware protagonist/time loop aspects of Memento (which was brilliant in its minimalism and slow burn), and turn it into The Matrix”.

Interstellar and Inception were also great films I thought. However, it’s definitely true that when you strip away the veneer of the huge productions and pretensions, these are all pretty simple stories that can be distilled into a few words.

I mean, hell, Interstellar is basically a big budget retelling of Queen’s ‘39. The narrator tells a story of their crew that is searching for new worlds to colonize due to a dying Earth. The chorus of “don’t you hear my call, though you’re many years away … write your letters in the sand, till the day I take your hand” is basically half of the movie right there. The song’s crew triumphantly returns after being gone for a year, but due to time dilation so much time has passed on Earth that everybody they know has long since died. (The chorus hints that it’s been 3 generations), leading the narrator to have an existential crisis at the end.

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I thought it was because Bowie

and top hats


And black cats


Bowie + top hats + black cats sounds like a writing prompt!


Just shoot me, but that definitely sounds like a prompt for ChatGPT.

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Grumpy Cat No GIF by Internet Cat Video Festival


Withnail - How dare you



Forgive this slight tangent. I’ve never seen a movie and a story that better complemented each other than “Arrival”, adapted from Ted Chiang’s wonderful short story, “Stories of Your Life”.

I love both the story and the movie better for having experienced the other. Actually the movie led me to the story, by which I discovered my new favorite sci-fi author.

Where the movie varies from the story, it’s to make it a better movie. And where the story varies, it has depth in ways that wouldn’t work on screen. The story develops the physics better, and the movie develops the emotion more fully.


… well, not literally, but I believe the author approved of all the changes, in the mode of “hey why didn’t I think of that” :thinking:

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Ted Chiang writes an awful lot of inner monologue, and much of “Stories of Your Life” has the additional issue of being thoughts-that-literally-cannot-be-spoken-out-loud :no_mouth:

It’s amazing they were able to adapt it at all

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I haven’t seen the movie, so I don’t know if this was on purpose…


(ETA: ducks, runs)

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The Prestige was a good movie, but my complaint is that because “Nolan”, another equally good movie about the art of magic from the same year is often overlooked…

This one also reminds me of a short story about a magician who is challenged to escape a sealed room in a hotel, but I can’t remember the author. Possibly Herman Hesse?


We own both films on DVD and recco both. :smiley:


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