The Prestige Movie Ending Explained (In Detail)

The film-mystery is always filled with ups and downs, and therefore so exciting. The viewer is pleased to realize that he is eating an intellectual product and is trying to solve the puzzle even at the viewing stage.

At first glance, the film “Prestige” is simple, at least in terms of the plot. But it will be possible to fully realize it only from the second run, knowing the ending and keeping the clue in mind.


The story takes place at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries in London. Two theatrical magicians are experiencing a tragedy – an assistant dies during the performance of a signature trick. The paths of the once former friends diverge, but each sets a goal – to become a “great” illusionist. Both are trying to find a formula for unrivaled focus. Initially, ordinary competition turns into a ruthless confrontation, and this, in turn, into an endless enmity.

The heroes will go to any lengths to find out the secrets of magic tricks and thwart each other’s performance. The irreconcilable theatrical war becomes a threat to their lives and the lives of people close to them.

Characteristics of heroes

Hugh Jackman’s character Robert Angier is a true Englishman. Rich, envious and heartless. He is an average magician, but an excellent showman who presents with sophistication someone else’s, that is, stolen, tricks. Knows how to achieve goals by deceit, meanness and connections in intelligent circles. At the same time, Robert recognizes in his rival – Alfred Borden (Christian Bale) – a brilliant illusionist.

Borden is more modest. He has a wife, a child, but he is too fanatical about his work, devoting little time to his family. Sometimes it seems that the hero behaves illogically, unjustifiably, rushing from one extreme to another. The duality of personality – his internal struggle between a family man and a “great” magician – gradually destroys life. And only the end of the film will reveal the secret of Borden’s destructive behavior.


The main characters have doubles in the film – Tesla and Edison. The parallel is not obvious, because Edison, unlike Tesla (David Bowie), from whom Robert Angier orders a teleporter, remains behind the scenes. But their enmity is mentioned, which was also based on meanness, hypocrisy and arrogance. Two genius inventors who seem to be cooperating make it their life’s goal to gain a monopoly on electricity. The history of their rivalry mirrors the enmity of the two magicians.

The meaning of the film

As mentioned, The Prestige is a puzzle movie. Director and screenwriter Christopher Nolan leaves hints throughout the film about how the story will end. At the first viewing, they are invisible – the plot and twists and turns pull the blanket over themselves, switch attention to seemingly important, but not at all deep things.

Meanwhile, the superficial meaning of the film is embedded in the remark of Nikola Tesla: “One day my obsessions will destroy me.” The inventor knew the price of genius, but magicians did not. Anyone who is obsessed with passion alone will eventually fall. And therefore in the battle of illusionists there was not and could not be a winner – reprisal overtakes everyone.


Rewatching the movie many years after the premiere, you understand that it was doomed to success. An intriguing story with elements of science fiction, a well-thought-out script with a series of plot twists, excellent performances of the first plan and the feeling that accompanies the viewing that you are watching a really smart movie.

“Prestige” is comparable to making a mosaic. Little details are gradually assembled into a beautiful whole picture. The mosaic is almost completed, the last missing piece is missing – the most important one. And when the film ends, and the puzzle has developed, you experience, in the words of the script, “genuine magic” – catharsis.

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