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Two stage magicians engage in competitive one-upmanship in an attempt to create the ultimate stage illusion.
Cutter: Every great magic trick consists of three parts or acts. The first part is called "The Pledge". The magician shows you something ordinary: a deck of cards, a bird or a man. He shows you this object. Perhaps he asks you to inspect it to see if it is indeed real, unaltered, normal. But of course... it probably isn't. The second act is called "The Turn". The magician takes the ordinary something and makes it do something extraordinary. Now you're looking for the secret... but you won't find it, because of course you're not really looking. You don't really want to know. You want to be fooled. But you wouldn't clap yet. Because making something disappear isn't enough; you have to bring it back. That's why every magic trick has a third act, the hardest part, the part we call "The Prestige"."
[last lines] Cutter: Now you're looking for the secret. But you won't find it because of course, you're not really looking. You don't really want to work it out. You want to be fooled.
[first lines] Alfred Borden: Are you watching closely?
Alfred Borden: The secret impresses no one. The trick you use it for is everything.
Officer: Do you have anything to say? Alfred Borden: Abracadabra.
Alfred Borden: You went half way around the world, you spent a fortune, you did terrible things - really terrible things, Robert, and all for nothing. Robert Angier: For nothing? Alfred Borden: Yeah Robert Angier: You never understood why we did this. The audience knows the truth: the world is simple. It's miserable, solid all the way through. But if you could fool them, even for a second, then you can make them wonder, and then you... then you got to see something really special. You really don't know? It was... it was the look on their faces...
[In reference to a bird from a trick] Alfred Borden: See? He's fine! Boy: But where's his brother?
Cutter: Take a minute to consider your achievement. I once told you about a sailor who drowned. Robert Angier: Yes, he said it was like going home. Cutter: I lied. He said it was agony.
Nikola Tesla: You're familiar with the phrase "man's reach exceeds his grasp"? It's a lie: man's grasp exceeds his nerve.
[after showing a little boy how to do a coin trick] Alfred Borden: Never show anyone. They'll beg you and they'll flatter you for the secret, but as soon as you give it up... you'll be nothing to them.
Alfred Borden: So... we go alone now. Both of us. Only I don't have as far to go as you. Go. You were right, I should have left him to his damn trick. I'm sorry. I'm sorry for a lot of things. I'm sorry about Sarah. I didn't mean to hurt her... I didn't. You go and live your life in full now, all right? You live for both of us. Fallon: Goodbye.
Sarah: Alfred, I can't live like this! Alfred Borden: Well, what do you want from me? Sarah: I want... I want you to be honest with me. No tricks, no lies, no secrets. [pause] Sarah: Do you... do you love me? Alfred Borden: Not today. No.
Alfred Borden: Everything's going to be alright, because I love you very much. Sarah: Say it again. Alfred Borden: I love you. Sarah: Not today. Alfred Borden: What do you mean? Sarah: Well some days it's not true. Maybe today you're more in love with magic. I like being able to tell the difference, it makes the days it is true mean something.
Alfred Borden: I love you. Sarah: You mean it today. Alfred Borden: Of course. Sarah: It just makes it so much harder when you don't.
Nikola Tesla: Mr. Angier, have you considered the cost of such a machine? Robert Angier: Price is not an object. Nikola Tesla: Perhaps not, but have you considered the *cost*? Robert Angier: I'm not sure I follow. Nikola Tesla: Go home. Forget this thing. I can recognize an obsession, no good will come of it. Robert Angier: Why, haven't good come of your obsessions? Nikola Tesla: Well, at first. But I followed them too long. I'm their slave... and one day they'll choose to destroy me. Robert Angier: If you understand an obsession, then you know you won't change my mind.
[repeated line] Alfred Borden: Are you watching closely?
Robert Angier: No one cares about the man in the box, the man who disappears.
Nikola Tesla: Nothing is impossible, Mr. Angier. What you want is simply expensive.
[last lines] Cutter: Every magic trick consists of three parts, or acts. The first part is called the pledge, the magician shows you something ordinary. The second act is called the turn, the magician takes the ordinary something and makes it into something extraordinary. But you wouldn't clap yet, because making something disappear isn't enough. You have to bring it BACK. Now you're looking for the secret. But you won't find it because of course, you're not really looking. You don't really want to work it out. You want to be fooled.
Nikola Tesla: Things don't always go as planned, Mr. Angier. That's the beauty of science.
Olivia Wenscombe: You married her. You had a child with her. Alfred Borden: Yes. Part of me did. But the other part... the other part didn't. The part that found you, the part that's sitting here right now. Olivia Wenscombe: You could be in some other cafe saying the same thing about me right now. It's inhuman to be so cold.
Robert Angier: Which hat is mine? Nikola Tesla: They are all your hat, Mr. Angier.
Gerald Root: You would drink, too, if you knew the world half as well as I do.
Alfred Borden: We both had half of a full life, which was somehow enough for us. But not for them.
Nikola Tesla: I apologize for leaving without saying goodbye, but I seem to have outstayed my welcome in Colorado. The truly extraordinary is not permitted in science and industry. Perhaps you'll find more luck in your field, where people are happy to be mystified. You will find what you are looking for in this box. Alley has written you a thorough set of instructions. I add only one suggestion on using the machine: destroy it. Drop it to the bottom of the deepest ocean. Such a thing will bring you only misery.
Alfred Borden: Simple maybe, but not easy.
Robert Angier: Would I be the man in the box or the prestige?
Alfred Borden: Does he enjoy taking his bows under the stage?
[after finding Gerald Root, Angier's new double] Cutter: He's perfect. He needs some work, but when I get through with him, he could be your brother. Robert Angier: I don't need him to be my brother, I need him to be *me*!
Alfred Borden: See, sacrifice, Robert. That's the price of a good trick. But you wouldn't know anything about that, would you?
Cutter: Obsession is a young man's game
Cutter: I knew a sailor once, got tangled in the rigging. We pulled him out, but it took him five minutes to cough. He said it was like going home.
Nikola Tesla: Society tolerates only one change at a time.
Robert Angier: But here, at the turn, I must leave you Borden. Yes, you, Borden, sitting there in your cell, awaiting your death. For my murder.
Nikola Tesla: Exact science, Mr Angier, is not an exact science.
Robert Angier: [to Borden] You always were the better magician. We both know that. Whatever your secret was, you have to agree, mine is better.
Sarah: No more lies. No more secrets. Alfred Borden: Secrets are my life.
Robert Angier: He's a dreadful magician. Cutter: No, he's a wonderful magician. He's a dreadful showman.
Alfred Borden: He's progressive, he's predictable, he's boring. I mean, Milton's got success, whatever that means, and now he's scared, he won't take any risks at all. I mean, he's squandering the goodwill of the audience with these tired, second-rate tricks... Robert Angier: They're all favorites, please... Alfred Borden: Favorites? Come on, give me something fresh, he wont even try a bloody bullet catch! Cutter: A bullet catch is suicide, all it takes is some smart-ass volunteer to put a button in the barrel... Alfred Borden: Fine, use a plant! Robert Angier: You can't use plants for every trick! Julia McCullough: There'll be no seats left for the punters! [laughs] Alfred Borden: Fine, no bullet catch, whatever, but the point is... a real magician tries to invent something new, that other magicians are gonna scratch their heads over, you know? Cutter: Right, then you sell it to him for a small fortune? Alfred Borden: All right... Cutter: I suppose you have such a trick? Alfred Borden: Actually, I do.
Gerald Root: Did you think you were unique, Mr Angier? I've been Caesar. I've played Faust. How hard could it possibly be to play the Great Danton?
Robert Angier: Man's reach exceeds his imagination!
Olivia Wenscombe: [referring to Angier] He wants me to come work for you and steal your secrets. Alfred Borden: What does he need my secrets for? His trick is top-notch. He vanishes, and then he reappears instantly on the other side of the stage - mute, overweight, and unless I'm mistaken, very drunk. It's astonishing, how does he do it?
Judge: What a way to kill someone. Cutter: They're magicians, your honor. Men who live by dressing up plain and simple truths to shock, to amaze. Judge: Even without an audience? Cutter: There was an audience. You see, this water tank was of particular significance to these two men. Particularly dreadful significance.
Robert Angier: The man stole my life. I steal his trick.
Judge: How large do you think this tank was? Cutter: Eh... 400, 500 gallons, maybe. Judge: And how do you think he was able to move ta tank of this size? Cutter: He's the magician. Why don't you ask him?
Alfred Borden: He came in to demand an answer and I told him the truth. That I have fought with myself over that night, one half of me swearing blind that I tied a simple slipknot, the other half convinced that I tied the Langford double. I can never know for sure.
Robert Angier: He lives his act.
Olivia Wenscombe: It won't bring your wife back. Robert Angier: I don't care about my wife. I care about his secret.
Burly Stagehand: Hey you! Where do you think you're going? Alfred Borden: I'm part of the bloody act, you fool!
Olivia Wenscombe: He says that it's even between you. Robert Angier: Even? My wife for a few of his fingers?
Alfred Borden: [realizes Fallon's buried after trading him back] Alive? Robert Angier: How fast can you dig?
Alfred Borden: You're not afraid to get your hands dirty anymore, are you?
Robert Angier: What knot did you tie? Alfred Borden: I don't know. Robert Angier: You don't know? [Alfred walks off] Robert Angier: You don't *know*?
[Borden is explaining how he used a double in his act] Alfred Borden: What I didn't count on was that, when I incorporated this bloke into my act, he had complete power over me. Gerald Root: Complete power, you say?
Robert Angier: My passion is equal to the task.
Robert Angier: Where are the wires? Alley: Exactly.
Robert Angier: I never thought I'd find an answer at the bottom of a pint glass. Cutter: Hasn't stopped you looking, has it?
Robert Angier: I haven't had a chance yet to compliment you on your beautiful theatre. Merrit: It'll be a lot more beautiful when it's full, Mr Angier.
Robert Angier: It was the greatest magic trick I've ever seen.
Hotel Manager: I thought they might work for the government. Robert Angier: No? Hotel Manager: Worse. They work for Thomas Edison.
Sarah: I know what you really are. And Alfred, I can't live like this. Alfred Borden: Oh, you think I can live like this? You think I bloody enjoy living like this? We have a beautiful house, lovely little girl, we're married, what is so wrong with your life?
Cutter: You're a magician, not a wizard.
Nikola Tesla: Don't forget your hat, Mr. Angier.
Alfred Borden: He's a sharp lad, your son. Sarah: He's my nephew. Alfred Borden: Oh.
Merrit: I've hired a comedian. You know I hate comedians.
Cutter: I saw you, drop the knot again...? Julia McCullough: I think I turned my wrist... Cutter: Some nights you just don't get it, do you? I mean, if that knot slips and Julia's on the hoist, she'll break her leg! Alfred Borden: It's a wrong knot. [pause, Cutter stares at him] Alfred Borden: Like I said, the Langfeld Double will hold tighter! Cutter: The Langfeld Double isn't a wet knot! It's too dangerous - if the rope swells up, she won't be able to slip it! Julia McCullough: I can slip a Langfeld underwater. Alfred Borden: [looks at Julia] She can slip it, we can practice... Robert Angier: Hey, Borden, he said no! Alfred Borden: [scoffs] Oh well, you know knots better than me, do you? Cutter: Listen! No more mistakes!
Cutter: You settled on a name yet? Robert Angier: Yes, I have. The Great Danton. Cutter: Bit old-fashioned isn't it? Robert Angier: No. It's sophisticated.
[Olivia visits Alfred Borden in his workshop. Bernard Fallon is there too] Olivia Wenscombe: I'm here to give your show what's still missing. Alfred Borden: Yeah? What might that be? Olivia Wenscombe: Me. [Borden laughs] Alfred Borden: I was just saying that; weren't I, Bernard? Woman's touch.
Robert Angier: Many of you may be familiar with this technique, but for those of you who aren't, do not be alarmed. What you're about to see is considered safe.
Robert Angier: So what's going to be the climax of our show? Merrit: Show? You don't have a show.
Sullen Warder: How did you get so famous then, eh? Alfred Borden: Magic.
Robert Angier: I thought you said I'd have to get my hands dirty. Cutter: Maybe someday you will; I just needed to know that you could.
Robert Angier: [about Borden] Where is he from? Cutter: Where are *you* from?
Sarah: I know what you really are, and Alfred, I can't live like this. Alfred Borden: Oh, you think I can live like this? You think I bloody enjoy living like this? We have a beautiful house, lovely little girl, we're married, what is *so* wrong with your life?
Cutter: Ready to meet yourself, Mr Angier?
Sarah: Alfred I can't live like *this*! Alfred Borden: Well, what do you want from me? Sarah: I want - I want you to be, honest with me. No tricks, no lies, no secrets. [pause] Sarah: Do you - do you love me? Alfred Borden: Not today. No.
Robert Angier: [has Alfred at gunpoint] What knot did you tie? Alfred Borden: I don't know. Robert Angier: [shoots him]
Cutter: Could I talk to Lord Caldlow in person? Owens: Out of the question, I'm afraid. Although I suppose if, in the course of your deliveries, your paths were to cross... I can't help you speaking your mind.
Alfred Borden: The key! Where's the bloody key?
[Root is performing as Angier's double] Cutter: You can go back to being yourself now, Root. For nothing. Gerald Root: I'd rather be him for now. I find it... amusing.
Olivia Wenscombe: The Great Danton is a blind fool!
Cutter: I came here to beg Lord Caldlow to destroy that machine. I am not going to beg you for anything.
Julia McCullough: I thought up a name for you: The Great Danton. Do you like it? It's sophisticated. Robert Angier: [scoffs] It's French.
Ackerman: We'll have to dress it up a little. Disguise it. Give them enough reason to doubt it.
Olivia Wenscombe: I *have* fallen in love with him, Robert. Robert Angier: Then I know how hard this has been for you.
Sullen Warder: The only way Borden's going to disappear is if I leave him out there with the other inmates.
Olivia Wenscombe: Why would he trust me? Robert Angier: Because you're going to tell him the truth.
[Angier gives a speech to the audience about The Real Transported Man magic trick] Robert Angier: In my travels, I have seen the future... And it is a strange future indeed. The world, ladies and gentleman, is on the brink of new, terrifying possibilities. [Angier taps the stage floor and the curtain rises behind him] Robert Angier: What you are about to witness is not magic. It is purely science. I would like to invite you to come up on stage now so that you can examine the machine for yourselves. [audience members go up on stage and examine the machine, finally, Angier calmly takes off his jacket, makes his way into the machine alone, in a matter of seconds he vanishes as the audience members murmur amongst each other] Robert Angier: [on the top balcony Angier appears in the spotlight with his arms up] Man's reach exceeds his imagination! [the audience continuously roars and applauds his magic trick]
[Discussing Borden's show] Robert Angier: He had a new trick today. Olivia Wenscombe: Was it good? Robert Angier: It was the most amazing magic trick I've ever seen.
[Borden shoots Angier in the waist, picking up the red rubber ball, when the two reveal their prestige to one another] Robert Angier: A brother... a twin. You were Fallon... the whole time? Alfred Borden: No. We were both Fallon. And we were both Borden. Robert Angier: [panting] Were you - were you the one who went into the box or the one who came back out? Alfred Borden: We took turns. The trick is where we would swap. [we see the flashback of both twins performing The Transported Man] Robert Angier: [breathing heavily] Cutter knew. Cutter knew. But I told him it was too simple, too easy. Alfred Borden: No... simple, maybe, but not easy. There's nothing easy about two men sharing one life. [we see the flashback showing one of the twins cutting the other twins' fingers off] Robert Angier: Wh-What about Olivia? And your wife? Alfred Borden: We each loved one of them. [we see the flashback of both lovers] Alfred Borden: I loved Sarah. He loved Olivia. We each had half a full life, really, which was enough for us. Just... but not for them. You see, sacrifice, Robert - that's the price of a good trick. But you wouldn't know anything about that, would you? Robert Angier: [labored breathing] I've - I've made sacrifices. [wheezing] Robert Angier: Yes. Alfred Borden: It takes nothing to steal another man's work. Robert Angier: It takes everything. [we see the flashback of Angier killing the clone of himself while doing The Real Transported Man trick] Robert Angier: It took courage... it took courage to climb into that machine every night... not knowing... if I'd be the man in the box... or the prestige. Do you want - want to see. What it cost me? Y-you didn't see where you are, did you? Look. Look Alfred Borden: Look here... you went halfway around the world. You spent a fortune. You did terrible things... really terrible things, Robert. And all for nothing. Robert Angier: For nothing? Alfred Borden: Yeah. Robert Angier: You never understood... why we did this? The audience knows the truth - the world is simple... and miserable... solid all the way through. But if you could fool them, even for a second, then you can make them wonder. And then you... then you got to see something very special. You really don't know? It was... it was the look on their faces. [Angier wheezes and exhales, collapsing dead, and Borden walks out of the theatre alone]
[Discussing Borden's trick] Robert Angier: How does he do it? Cutter: He uses a double. Robert Angier: No, no, no, no. It's too simple. This is a complex illusion. Cutter: You only say that because you don't know the method. It's a double that comes out of the other end, I promise you. Robert Angier: I've seen the show three times now, Mr. Cutter, and the prestige is the same man coming out of the second box. Cutter: No, it's not. Olivia Wenscombe: It's the same man. He wears gloves to hide his fingers, but if you look closely you can tell.
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