Prestige, The (Blu-ray) (2006)

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Released 20-Mar-2007

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Featurette-Director’s Notebook: 5 Featurettes
Gallery-The Art of the Prestige: Production Photos, Costumes / Sets,
Theatrical Trailer
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2006
Running Time 130:26
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Programme
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Christopher Nolan
Studio
Distributor

Warner Home Video
Starring Hugh Jackman
Christian Bale
Michael Caine
Piper Perabo
Rebecca Hall
Scarlett Johansson
Samantha Mahurin
Case Standard Blu-ray
RPI ? Music David Julyan


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (640Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 5.1 (640Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.40:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
Italian
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

"Are you watching closely?"

     The Prestige is quite a simple story about two magicians in Victorian England, Robert Angier (Hugh Jackman) and Alfred Borden (Christian Bale), who were once colleagues but who, after an accidental death during a stage performance, became bitter rivals who will do anything to sabotage or disrupt the act of the other while striving for the most spellbinding illusion. Borden’s wife Sarah (Rebecca Hall) and his young daughter, Angier’s friend and creator of tricks Cutter (Michael Caine), Olivia (Scarlett Johansson), a woman loved by both men, inventor Tesla (David Bowie) and his retainer Alley (Andy Serkis) are among those caught up as the competition between the two magicians becomes an obsession which leads to tragedy.

     While the story itself may be simple the telling of it by co-writer / director Christopher Nolan is anything but. Nolan made The Prestige immediately after Batman Begins (2005) and uses two of his Batman Begins cast in Christian Bale and Michael Caine who, in this film at least, has a much greater and indeed pivotal role than in many of the films he has done recently. The Prestige is based on the 1995 novel of the same name by Christopher Priest but in the hands of Nolan the film becomes about the nature of show business entertainment, such as film itself, for it is about obsession, secrets, illusion and reality, tricks and sleight of hand. The Prestige, as is Nolan’s habit, is also not told in linear form but in various time frames and it also jumps around and circles back on itself to reveal that something the audience thought had happened, or was happening, was in fact an illusion, sometimes an illusion within an illusion, and even when we think the film has ended Nolan adds a final illusion.

     The set design of The Prestige is impressive; the squalid streets of London, the glitter of front of stage theatre contrasted with backstage or below stage, the snowy landscapes of Colorado are all beautifully filmed by cinematographer Wally Pfister, who has shot most of Christopher Nolan’s films from Memento (2000) to The Dark Knight Rises (2012), winning an Oscar for his work on Inception (2010).

     The Prestige is a film that you have to pay attention to; indeed, numerous times during the film a character asks “are you watching closely?”; even so The Prestige requires more than one viewing to understand what has gone on, something else that has almost become a trademark of Christopher Nolan.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     The Prestige is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.40:1, in 1080p using the unusual VC-1 code.

     The film looks stunning. The colour palate is muted, with browns dominating in the London sequences and grey / white in Colorado. There are flashes of colour and glitz on costumes and during the stage performances. However, for all the darkness, detail is fabulous, including sequences with electricity sizzling or where lighted electric light bulbs are shown on snowy ground. Blacks and shadow detail are pristine, skin tones fine and brightness and contrast consistent.

     I did not notice any artefacts or marks.

     Subtitles provided are English and Italian.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

     Audio choices are English or Italian, both lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 at 640 Kbps.

     Some dialogue was a bit hard to hear due either to accents or the low level of delivery. Although this is not the most enveloping audio track I have heard the surrounds and rears were used for sounds in the London streets, the applause and voices during stage performance, the crackle of electricity, footsteps and the music. The sub-woofer added some depth to the music and performance effects.

     The music by David Julyan, who has scored most of Nolan’s films, was effective.

     There are no lip synchronisation issues.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

     The film starts on the Blu-ray loading. Access the extras menu via the remote.

Director’s Notebook: The Cinematic Sleight of Hand of Christopher Nolan

     A “making of” from 2006 which covers the era the film is set in, magicians, the look and visual style of the film, the sets, costumes, the cast and the real life inventor / magician Nikola Tesla. There is a lot of interesting on-set and behind the scenes footage plus comments by Christopher Nolan, Christopher Priest, on whose novel the film was based, the production designer, costume designer, DP Wally Pfister, the co-screenwriter and cast members Hugh Jackman, Christian Bale, Scarlett Johansson, Rebecca Hall, Piper Perabo and Michael Caine. The featurette is broken into these sections, although there is a play all option:

The Art of The Prestige

     Still photographs; silent, use the remote to advance to the next picture:

Theatrical Trailer (1:40)

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

     The Region A US version of The Prestige has basically the same extras but is in the more standard MPEG-4 AVC code and has LPCM 5.1 audio. The video on our release is excellent, so that is not an issue, although the lossless audio would be an improvement.

Summary

     The Prestige has many of the touches that have become Nolan trademarks such as twists on twists, sleight of hand, nonlinear storytelling and gorgeous visuals. It is a film that needs watching, and rewatching, to even start to understand some of its complexities. In an age where too many films require no input from the audience, Christopher Nolan stands out as a thinking filmmaker making blockbusters that ask us to think. No bad thing either.

     The video is stunning, the audio does a job. The extras are not extensive.

     The Prestige has been released on Blu-ray previously in Australia. This rerelease has exactly the same video, audio and extras, the only difference being that this rerelease contains only English and Italian audio and subtitles whereas the previous Blu-ray added dubs in French, German and Spanish as well as a wide range of European subtitles. Obviously, if you own the previous release of The Prestige there is no need to repurchase but if you like Nolan’s films this is another opportunity to pick up one of his earlier titles.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Tuesday, August 08, 2017
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S580, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 55inch HD LCD. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderNAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationNAD T737
SpeakersStudio Acoustics 5.1

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