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The Illusionist versus The Prestige


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#1 Dallas Heinlein

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Posted 15 January 2007 - 10:28 AM

Since both of the films came out close to the same time I was wondering what everyone's opinions are on the two stories. Did you find one to have been written/acted/shot/directed better than the other one? Why? I think The Illusionist was beautifully shot to help incorporate the visual effects in seemlessly. As for The Prestige, another interesting film, lacked in a decent organization of the story which left many viewers confused. Anyone else have an opinion?
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#2 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 15 January 2007 - 11:12 AM

As for The Prestige, another interesting film, lacked in a decent organization of the story which left many viewers confused. Anyone else have an opinion?


Well, considering that this is a film by the writer/director of "Memento", it's not surprising that the story structure is deliberately confusing, not accidentally confusing.

I hope to see "The Illusionist" soon on DVD.
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#3 Brian Dzyak

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Posted 15 January 2007 - 11:52 AM

I haven't seen The Illusionist yet, but soon.

I've seen the Prestige twice. I enjoyed it more the second time, but I was still confused as to the true identity of the "brother." I don't want to give too much away for those who haven't seen it, but evidently, in the book the story was based on, the trick was achieved by the first guy by using twins. The confusion for me is that the only "hint" as to how to achieve the trick was the story element of Tesla, which Hugh's character utilized. Never in the script (nor in the book evidently) was there any true clue that the first guy had a twin, so it really comes out of nowhere. So that bothered me.

And as someone who is interested in illusions, I was disappointed that the story relied on sci fi to make the trick happen. It's one of those cop-outs, like when a story invents some device or "magic crystal" that doesn't really exist. The flip side is that the more interesting story that isn't developed in this movie is that of Tesla. This is a guy who's life is screaming for a movie to be made about him.

Cinematography-wise, it was beautifully shot. I was very impressed throughout.
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#4 Jonathan Bowerbank

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Posted 16 January 2007 - 11:07 PM

The Illusionist had a great story. And, regardless of its ASC nod, I wasn't too impressed. A lot of it looked staged and fake to me, especially most of the "exterior" scenes. Most the interior stuff was pretty and what not, but I owe that mainly to set design and the film's period look (and yes, I know they go hand in hand, but if anything the film should win awards for Set Design, not cinematography)

I loved nearly every shot of The Prestige. I loved the story's intensity, I didn't find it especially confusing since I figured out Bale's character's trick very early on (except for the relationship of his partner in the trick). But I thought it was fantastically shot, and the fact that it didn't have a DI should have earned it even more points.
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#5 Leo Anthony Vale

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Posted 17 January 2007 - 04:20 PM

And as someone who is interested in illusions, I was disappointed that the story relied on sci fi to make the trick happen. It's one of those cop-outs, like when a story invents some device or "magic crystal" that doesn't really exist. The flip side is that the more interesting story that isn't developed in this movie is that of Tesla. This is a guy who's life is screaming for a movie to be made about him.

Since it's based on a Christopher Priest novel, that ought to be a red flag that this is probably a science fiction movie.

There were two Yugoslavian movies about Tesla, 1980 and 1993. The '93 one was on PBS.In the 80s a Polish director, maybe Skolimowski or Zannussi was planning a 3-d Tesla movie.
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#6 Ignacio Aguilar

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Posted 17 January 2007 - 05:57 PM

"The Illusionist": I found the DI a bit intrusive and overdone, though I loved the look of the early flashback scene. Well lit by Pope, but they relied too much on endless close-ups, which always make the cinematography a bit less interesting IMHO.

"The Prestige": Beautiful anamorphic photography for a very natural look, all achieved in camera (no DI) through very low light levels, wide-open lenses and push-processed film stocks (the blacks suffer a bit at times, but the high-contrast look is really appealing). The images also are really attractive and lush, while Pfister's minimalist lighting goes beyond "Batman Begins" for a more classic & source motivated approach. Really nice and one of the year's best.
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#7 Dallas Heinlein

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Posted 18 January 2007 - 10:29 AM

There were two Yugoslavian movies about Tesla, 1980 and 1993. The '93 one was on PBS.In the 80s a Polish director, maybe Skolimowski or Zannussi was planning a 3-d Tesla movie.

I don't intend to sound completely ignorant, but Tesla is a real person? I did not know that.
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#8 Jonathan Bowerbank

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Posted 18 January 2007 - 12:58 PM

I don't intend to sound completely ignorant, but Tesla is a real person? I did not know that.


I sincerely hope you're kidding.
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#9 Dallas Heinlein

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Posted 18 January 2007 - 02:12 PM

I sincerely hope you're kidding.

Boy, do I feel stupid. I just looked him up on the internet. Wow! How did I ever overlook his name?

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#10 Sean Azze

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Posted 25 January 2007 - 12:18 PM

I sincerely hope you're kidding.


Little snooty of you, don't you think? There's been hundreds of notable figures in human history. Just because neither I nor Mr. Heinlein has ever heard of Tesla doesn't imply that we have been cohabitating in a bunker a vertical mile underneath the earth for the last 100 years. :lol:

You aren't one of those Jeopardy judges, are you?
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#11 Jonathan Bowerbank

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Posted 25 January 2007 - 12:38 PM

"I'll take 'the-rapists' for 300, Trebek!"

Nah, just a semi-history buff :)
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#12 Sean Azze

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Posted 25 January 2007 - 12:43 PM

"I'll take 'the-rapists' for 300, Trebek!"

Nah, just a semi-history buff :)



"Yeah well, why don't you give me, ah.. why don'tcha give me Ape-Tit for $200."

Edited by Sean Azze, 25 January 2007 - 12:46 PM.

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#13 Brian Dzyak

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Posted 25 January 2007 - 01:02 PM

"Yeah well, why don't you give me, ah.. why don'tcha give me Ape-Tit for $200."



BUCKFUTTER! :lol:
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#14 Dallas Heinlein

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Posted 25 January 2007 - 02:56 PM

You aren't one of those Jeopardy judges, are you?

What's interesting is I actually know a guy who was a judge/fact researcher on the Jeopardy show a few years ago. I met him on another message forum. He's a nice guy with a great sense of humor.
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#15 David Sweetman

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Posted 25 January 2007 - 03:08 PM

Well, taking the discussion back a ways...

The main difference is that The Illusionist stays very linear and unaware of the self - that is, it's not a psychological or philosophical tale, but is in its essence very simple - a woman almost falls for the wrong man but runs away to live happily ever after in the end. However the Prestige directly adresses Existentialism, considering the nature of human life, human death, and the relationship of the human to the universe. For this reason, I believe The Prestige is much more effective, because a very well-performed magic trick leaves you thinking the same thing that you do at the end of the movie, "how can this be, within the realm of nature?"
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#16 Jonathan Bowerbank

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Posted 25 January 2007 - 04:56 PM

but is in its essence very simple - a woman almost falls for the wrong man but runs away to live happily ever after in the end.


Can I get a "SPOILER ALERT!"

I've already seen it, just tryin' to protect other people ;)
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#17 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 26 January 2007 - 01:47 AM

I finally saw "The Illusionist" on DVD last weekend and enjoyed it, especially the cinematography.

It's interesting to compare it to "The Prestige" in how they portray stage magic. As with "Batman Begins", Nolan seems obsessed with logically explaining every trick used, to the point that a bit of science fiction has to be employed just to explain the final trick. There's no mystery left uncovered by the end.

Whereas "The Illusionist" doesn't explain really how he did some of his conjouring tricks, so the result is the somewhat mystical feeling in the viewer of having seen something possibly "real" -- a sense of awe in seeing a magic trick that isn't explained to you. I mean, some tricks are explained but others really defy any logical explanation.

I'm not saying one approach is better than another, only that "The Illusionist" seems to be more in love with the wonder of stagecraft. However "The Prestige" is more full of complicated themes of doubles, twins, obsession, etc. I liked both movies.
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#18 Hans Engstrom

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Posted 26 January 2007 - 02:24 AM

---- CONTAINs SPOILERS ----

I enjoyed The Prestige more than The Illusionist. Figuring out the twist in The Prestige early didn´t "ruin" the film in the same way as figuring it out early in The Illusionist. One thing that bothered me in The Prestige was that I thought the cat and hats was a trick (illusion) by Tesla to buy more time and money but instead it was for real "sci-fi" as we get to see how the final trick was done. From my perspective I think that showing how it was done wasn´t needed. It would have had a more mystic feeling and left the viewer thinking about the movie more afterwards if it wasn´t shown.

When it comes to the cinematography I really liked The Prestige. Wally Pfister is really one of my favorite cinematographers and I think that he has shot some really nice anamorphic films in the last years with Nolan. (Insomni, Batman Begins, The Prestige)
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#19 Sakari Suuronen

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Posted 26 January 2007 - 01:18 PM

Insanely off topic, but people interested in Tesla, there's an intersting documentary about he's inventions in google video.

Edited by Sakari Suuronen, 26 January 2007 - 01:21 PM.

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