‘The Prestige’ Changed My Life; Can ‘Interstellar’ Do It Again?

film reviews | movies | features | BRWC ‘The Prestige’ Changed My Life; Can ‘Interstellar’ Do It Again?

Back in 2006, I was only vaguely aware of the name Christopher Nolan, thanks to a little movie of his called Batman Begins. But when I saw his name in a deliciously cryptic trailer for a movie called The Prestige, I sat up and took notice.

After watching the trailer, The Prestige became my most anticipated movie ever or at least since Star Wars: Episode III. I counted down the months and the weeks until the film’s release, and when the appointed day finally came, I couldn’t be more excited.

After the credits rolled (even the credits are awesome, thanks to Thom Yorke’s “Analyse”), I sat in my chair stunned, knowing I’d just experienced something completely amazing. Sublime, even. I’d go so far as to call it life changing. I turned to my dad and said, “That was the best movie I’ve ever seen.” I saw it again with my mom, in theaters, the next day.

I was, at the time, thinking about attending college for creative writing. Everybody in my life – even my dentist – told me it was a stupid decision. The Prestige may well have tipped the scales by showing me just what’s possible in a story. It contained everything that a story must have – mystery, romance, conflict – and yet it was wholly unlike anything else I’d ever seen.

As a side note, it’s also the sort of movie that I can’t help but feel would be a perfect fit for people who are struggling with drug or alcohol addictions. The characters’ mind games and relentless brinksmanship throughout the film are a reminder that our every action has a consequence, even if we can’t see it yet.

Anyway, I’m still amazed that The Prestige isn’t held in higher regard. Some folks complained that its more science-fictiony elements were sort of Trojan horsed on us, but I don’t mind. I love surprises. The film unfolded slowly and surrealistically, cluing us in to major developments just before the confusion and anticipation had grown to be too much. It’s wonderfully paced – a difficult thing to do, given how much of the story is told non-chronologically, or using diary entries.

Before I go any further, let me give credit where it’s due: The Prestige was based on Christopher Priest’s 1995 novel of the same name. So the basic framework of the story was already in place before Christopher Nolan got his hands on the movie rights. Even so, that he was able to adapt – and so successfully, I might add – such a difficult novel is a testament to his abilities as a storyteller and a filmmaker.

So what’s next for Nolan? His next movie, Interstellar, will be released on November 7th in the US, and I couldn’t be more excited. Most of America knows Nolan from his work on the Dark Knight Trilogy and Inception, but I find myself hoping that Interstellar has more in common with The Prestige.

Truth be told, the only footage of Interstellar I’ve seen is what’s in the initial teaser trailer. I’m not interested in having plot details or set pieces spoiled for me – a fear that is, perhaps, unnecessary, given how well Nolan’s previous trailers have managed to pique my interest without giving much away.

Nolan isn’t the sort to subject us to unearned hype, but even he seems beside himself with excitement over his latest movie. He’s stated in interviews that one of his goals for the film was to channel the sense of wonder and excitement that he, himself, felt when he watched Star Wars for the first time as a boy. Interstellar, he hopes, will offer the same feeling of discovery and timelessness.

Combined with his affinity for slowly-unraveling mysteries, Interstellar’s cinematic influences have me thinking that this could be my Next Favorite Movie. November can’t come soon enough.

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