‘The Prestige,’ Christopher Nolan, Jonathan Nolan

Adapted screenplay contender


ADAPTED FROM: Novel “The Prestige” by Christopher Priest

STORYLINE: A feud between stage magicians in Victorian London escalates to murder — or does it?

ABOUT THE SCRIPT: Christopher Nolan says, “Rather than portraying magic visually in the film and expecting the audience to be impressed by that, we make the narrative itself the set of tricks, imbuing the story with mystery and suspense by the turns of the narrative itself, rather than through the tricks the stage magicians perform.”

BIGGEST CHALLENGE: “It took a long time to figure out how to achieve cinematic versions of the very literary devices that drive the intrigue of the story. The shifting points of view, the idea of journals within journals and stories within stories. Finding the cinematic equivalents of those literary devices was very complex.”

BREAKTHROUGH IDEA: “To structure the screenplay according to the same principles the magic trick is based on, the three-act structure of the trick: the pledge, the turn, the prestige.”

CHOICE LINES: Per Christopher Nolan, Angier’s summation of why they do what they do: “The audience knows the truth — that the world is simple. Miserable. Solid all the way through. But if you could fool them, even for a second, you could make them wonder. Then you got to see something very special … (Looks up.) You really don’t know? It was the look on their faces.” Says Nolan, “That for me expresses quite neatly why I like making films and why I like watching films.”