Themester intern Brooklynn Shively briefly muses on the questions of truth and illusion at the heart of The Prestige.
Christopher Nolan’s 2006 film The Prestige tells a tale of rivalry and obsession between two magicians, Robert Angier (Hugh Jackman) and Alfred Borden (Christian Bale), unfolding against a backdrop of illusory acts and a constant battle to outdo one another. At the heart of this story lies a poignant message about the delicate balance between light and truth, illusion and reality, and the intricate relationship between magicians and their audiences.
The film’s final line — “You don’t really want to know. You want to be fooled.” — encapsulates this tension. It suggests that audiences, in their quest to unravel the secret behind a magic trick, may not genuinely seek the truth but instead yearn for a sense of wonder and amazement. They “want to be fooled” because the allure of magic lies in its ability to suspend disbelief and ignite the imagination. This statement delves into the intricacies of human psychology, where people are drawn to the enigmatic and illusory, fueling their fascination and sense of wonder. It challenges us to consider whether the pursuit of truth is always the desired objective or if the enchantment of illusion and the allure of the inexplicable can be equally valuable.
The Prestige highlights the tension between the thirst for truth and the allure of illusion, leaving us with a thought-provoking question: Is it the pursuit of truth that captivates us, or do we long to be swept away by the mysteries that spark our imagination? As we journey through this film, we are reminded that, sometimes, the joy is not in finding the answers but in embracing the magic of the unknown.
Brooklynn Shively is a Themester 2023 Senior Intern. In 2024, she will obtain a degree in Media Law with a minor in Financial Literacy.