"Obsessive secrecy" is also a fairly accurate description of the Prestige filmmakers' attitude to their adventurous adaptation of Priest's book.
We all have admired and wondered Nolan's way of film making, he make us think a lot. He is master in handling complex scripts. I will explain the ending how he fooled us as an audience by his stunning story telling, screen play and cinematography.
This is one of my favorite movies of all time. So, I’ll just share my thoughts about it.
Christian Bale played a character as Borden and Hugh Jackman played a character as Angier.
Two friends and fellow magicians become bitter enemies after a sudden tragedy. As they devote themselves to this rivalry, they make sacrifices that bring them fame but with terrible consequences.
When you're passionate enough about something, you don't look back. You go to any lengths to get what you want. Even if you are dedicating your whole life to an act. And die for that cause.
[When The Great Virgil performs a magic to make the bird disappear and smash the cage]
Boy: He killed it! [The Magician brings back the bird back, but…] [Borden Brings back the new bird to the boy...] Borden: See? He's fine! Boy: But where's his brother?
After this scene, Borden discards the very smashed and dead bird hidden in the table's false top.
Sometimes , sacrifice becomes a necessity for a stupendous outcome.
When Angier couldn’t find Borden’s trick to the “Transported Man” he asks Nikola Tesla to build a machine that could let him perform the magic through science.
Finally Nikola Tesla builds a machine that lets Angier ‘transport’ himself.
“NOTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE”
But sometimes when you achieve the impossible, it comes with a cost way above your head.
Nolan hints the audience that Angier will eventually kill far more than just a dove, getting his hands dirty with more than the blood of a bird.
In the movie, Angier was forced to discard the live copies of himself.
“Sometimes you need to get your hands dirty to achieve the Impossible.” - John Cutter.
The very next scene shows Cutter explaining the new Bird trick to Angier where the bird doesn’t have to die. Comparing both the scenes, the movie makes sure to warn the audience that eventually a tragedy is about to take place. The above scene was to make sure Angier was capable of taking even the nominal risks and sacrifice.
“Prepare yourself for anything”
Tesla warns Angier to drop his obsession because of the cost. "No good will come of it." Angier thinks Tesla is talking about money, but Tesla isn't. Tesla admits that good came from his obsessions at first, but he has followed his obsessions too long, and now he is their slave…and one day "they will choose to destroy me."
It is not wise to get obsessed with winning or revenge! It ultimately leads to doom.
Always have a trick up your sleeve. Make your opponent believe that he is winning but be the one controlling each of his moves.Then you will have the last laugh
Revenge is not the answer.
Competition comes as a package with Rivalry. But jealousy is just an addOn virus.
MUST WATCH MOVIE! PLEASE READ THE ENDING ONCE YOU COMPLETED WATCHING THE MOVIE. YOU WILL BE ASTONISHED!
The Prestige Ending Explained and How Nolan succeeded in fooling the audience? and how Angier failed to fool Borden. SPOILERS AHEAD
No!! Tesla’s machine did not work (it did not make clones). If you think there was real “magic” displayed by Tesla’s machine you missed one of the main themes of the movie: we want to be fooled.
Remember, both journals (upon which a large bulk of the narrative is based) were faked or at least partially deceitful- this is an open fact in the movie. Both narratives are untrustworthy. It's possible neither magician ever even met Tesla- or he made a regular Tesla coil for each that they used in their performances.
So how did Angier do it? He used his double Root (who was an actor - Angier had the deep pockets we find out at the end to pay him off properly this time). Root may have been the prestige on the balcony (far away from the audience) each night or he was dropped into a partially filled tank each night - either way, someone was transported alive and secretly to the security of the abandoned theater after each performance. One thing is certain - Root was the one who died in the tank at the last performance.
No clones- so what did we see at the end? It was Root’s body in the tank- to tie up loose ends or as part of the final prestige, Angier, with his deep pockets again, must have acquired Root’s body. Remember, we only see the one “clone”. The other tanks might be empty or filled with other bodies acquired by Angier in various states of decomposition. Angier got his hands dirty- he murdered and framed to create this final prestige- one meant for his mentor and rival. It's clear Angier is about to destroy all of this “evidence”.
Did he succeed? Well he (and Nolan) succeeded in fooling much of the audience. Did Angier fool his rival and mentor? Not for a second! Despite lying and staying in character to the very end (the ultimate sacrifice to his art), Angier does not convince Borden (or previously his mentor) that his trick used the machine. How do we know? Neither man is interested in taking this “magical” machine - Borden walks away without even checking out the tanks - he knows, like the mentor, that Angier was lying and the trick was done with a double.
Hope you enjoyed!