The Nolans use nonlinear narrative approach to capture the themes in the screenplay in a whole new fashion that not only entertains, but captures new aesthetics of a 21st century film. This paper analyses how different styles such as mise-en-scene, cinematography, editing and sound design affect the overall outcome of the themes and aesthetics in “The Prestige.”
Robert Angier and Alfred Borden cut the image of two would-be illusionists working in harmony in Victorian London, but upon the unintended elimination of Angier’s wife, the two characters turn against each other; Bordwell (2013) noted that “with Julia’s death, the men become enemies.” Hell-bent on proving that the other is weaker and incapable, both parties discover a new center or focus in the elegant Olivia Wenscombe. By virtue of Wenscome, each of the two sinks deeper into mystery in an attempt to demonstrate that they he is the more powerful magician. “The Prestige” takes an atmospheric turn that seamlessly integrates magic’s natural mystery and secrecies with well-connected scenes that constantly ensure the audiences follow the story to the end while chasing unending solutions to the mysteries.
Although, the storyline jumps from one time period to another in an effort to underscore the seriousness of the rivalry between the magicians, director Christopher Nolan clearly delineates the scenes to avoid any confusion among the audience. The carefully designed mise-en-scenes style featuring the two characters on the foreground at night in the outdoor scene, with lines of bulbs planted to the background, for example, not only creates an intriguing social life of the two characters at the beginning of the film, but also evokes a particular dreamlike value that is both attractive and mysterious (Bordwell, 2013).
Neither of the two protagonists is predominantly likeable especially in the dark clothes they adorn and their shadowy movements. Both men have somehow