The film The Prestige

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Postby Guest » 10/19/06 05:35 PM

I noticed that some movie critics are saying that the word "prestige" is a magician's term of art referring to the climax of a trick. I've never heard of that usage. Has anyone else?

I think the critics are picking that up from the trailer for the movie, which claims that every magic trick has three acts, which it labels the Pledge (showing an ordinary object), the Turn (doing something extraordinary with it)and the Prestige (a shocking climax). I've never heard of those terms.

As it happens, the derivation of the English word "prestige" is French for illusion and glamor and ultimately Latin for conjuring tricks, according to the Oxford English Dictionary. When it was first used in English, it was a derogatory word because of the association with a false glamour, the dictionary said.

I don't think the trailer's explanation for the term "prestige" matches the book's. I read the novel "The Prestige" a long while ago, and as I recall, the title referred to the after-effect of a particular trick, details about which would give away the plot.
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Postby Guest » 10/19/06 06:18 PM

I recently reread the novel and you're correct about the way the word is used there. According to my dictionary, the word at one time denoted deciets and juggler's tricks.
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Postby Guest » 10/19/06 08:05 PM

Originally posted by Eric Fry:
I noticed that some movie critics are saying that the word "prestige" is a magician's term of art referring to the climax of a trick. I've never heard of that usage. Has anyone else?]
Nope.

BUT there is an ironic element to the usage in this case. And I can't say more till the film and the story is better known.

This goes way beyond post-ironic into the maudlin and from there into new realms.

For now... no comment. ;)
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Postby Guest » 10/20/06 01:44 AM

Shame they HAD to show the cage going up the..... :rolleyes:

I'm looking forward to see this. its due to come in UK on 20th of next month.

I wonder how many in the genral public are intrested to see a movie on magicians ?
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Postby Guest » 10/20/06 05:37 AM

Originally posted by Mehtas:
...I wonder how many in the genral public are intrested to see a movie on magicians ?
It's not on or about magicians. It's a story about people and the lengths to which they will go for what the think/feel is important.
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Postby Steve Bryant » 10/20/06 07:27 AM

I wonder how many in the genral public are intrested to see a movie on magicians ?
Mehtas, I and the general public will see ANYTHING that includes Scarlett Johansson. What is interesting is that she agreed to be in two magic-oriented movies recently (as did Hugh Jackman). One of my favorite critics, Duncan Shepherd of the San Diego Reader (who dislikes most movies), says this of the three:

"The Prestige is not the year's best film about magic to feature both Scarlett Johansson and Hugh Jackman. That distinction would still belong to Woody Allen's Scoop, which was unchallenged as well (except insofar as the air pressure in Jessica Biel's lips may have challenged Scarlett Johansson's) by that other magic film, The Illusionist."

Hmm.
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Postby Tom Klem » 10/20/06 07:33 AM

I saw "The Prestige" at a screening here in New York on Monday. I loved it. It is filmed very well.

Technical Advisors Ricky Jay and Michael Weber made many magicial details accurate. It is different in many ways from the book. For one the role Nikola Tesla is expanded. David Bowie plays Tesla. Michael Caine is wonderful as Hugh Jackman's lead assistant and right arm. Scarlett Johansson is under used.

I will not go into the details of the film as it is a msytery that if to much is revealed I would ruin the film for you if you did not read the book.

There will be those upset by the magic revealed. I was a bit. I think magicians will enjoy this movie of two men out doing each other at every turn. It reminded me of magicians I know but none would go as far as these two.

It is a good film enjoy.
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Postby Guest » 10/20/06 09:31 AM

Thanks for the insight Tom.

Sounds like a good film to go for.

I suspect one of my friend will be more upset due to the exposure.

As long at it does not expose the raven and balducci, Im OK :)


:genii:
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 10/20/06 12:45 PM

Looking at one of the trailers, it appears they expose the Vanishing Birdcage.
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Postby Guest » 10/20/06 01:58 PM

Yep, the birdcage up sleeve is lovingly exposed, but the contraption shown (which is sort of a steroid-boosted keplinger hold-out) will still allow you to do the effect popularised by Blackstone and get credited for owning a legendary trick, something which will please the amateurs to no end.
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Postby Guest » 10/20/06 01:58 PM

It's an ok film. Magic buffs will love it, but I am not sure it will do
much for the general public. Great sets, great cast, great actors - but a
tad long and at one point the step into sci-fi is a little much for me. It is a lot more about allusions than illusions.
Ricky Jay is in it, in a cameo role as a pompous portly purvoyer of
prestidigitation (clearly a role which is a departure for him...) , taking a turn in an
illusionist's role... from the guy who compared David Copperfield to
velveeta, can this be considered a cheesy stance?
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Postby Guest » 10/20/06 09:20 PM

Originally posted by Eric Fry:
I noticed that some movie critics are saying that the word "prestige" is a magician's term of art referring to the climax of a trick. I've never heard of that usage. Has anyone else?

I think the critics are picking that up from the trailer for the movie, which claims that every magic trick has three acts, which it labels the Pledge (showing an ordinary object), the Turn (doing something extraordinary with it)and the Prestige (a shocking climax). I've never heard of those terms.

As it happens, the derivation of the English word "prestige" is French for illusion and glamor and ultimately Latin for conjuring tricks, according to the Oxford English Dictionary. When it was first used in English, it was a derogatory word because of the association with a false glamour, the dictionary said.

I don't think the trailer's explanation for the term "prestige" matches the book's. I read the novel "The Prestige" a long while ago, and as I recall, the title referred to the after-effect of a particular trick, details about which would give away the plot.
Eric,
As it happens I recently examined the Literary License of Christopher Priest, the author of the novel from which this film springs. According to the terms of his license he is, as a "novelist," fully permitted and allowed (indeed, expected) to "make things up."

I hope this answers your question. :whack:
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Postby Guest » 10/20/06 09:35 PM

Originally posted by Eric Fry:
I noticed that some movie critics are saying that the word "prestige" is a magician's term of art referring to the climax of a trick. I've never heard of that usage. Has anyone else?... as it happens, the derivation of the English word "prestige" is French for illusion and glamor
I wondered about the same thing when I read "The Prestige" when it first came out...never bothered to look it up though. Interestingly, Christopher Priest has another novel entitled "The Glamour" (I don't know what it's about) which seems to suggest he was at least familiar with the derivation you cite.
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Postby Tom Klem » 10/21/06 06:36 AM

I can not think that the release of the Illusionist" and "The Prestige" casting magicians as leading men in major movies could not be good for the image of magicians as a whole with the public.

Yes, It is a film from a novel and the truth is not the goal here. It is though a story told in a voice of a kind of respect not often given to our world.

If you are a magician that performs for other magicians perhaps this is less important. Those make a living performing for the public I believe will find some new interest in their work by the public.

Perhaps some major public theater archives will start include magicians in their halls. I know, Tom, now you have stated the impossible. Perhaps it would make a good novel.
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Postby Guest » 10/21/06 06:41 AM

I read an interview in one of the film magazines where Christopher Priest stated that he simply made up the "prestige" word. When you see the film (or read the book) you'll be struck by the double meaning.
It will be interesting to see if "Prestige" finds it's way into the magician's vernacular.
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Postby Guest » 10/21/06 09:31 AM

I posted this elsewhere, but Guy Hollingworths first magic club was called The Prestige Society. http://www.cardmsg.com/magicians/guy-hollingworth.html If you do a Google search, you will find other Prestige Societies associated with magic. Maybe Im way off here, but this seems to suggest there is a definite connection between the word and magic and magicians, if not here at least elsewhere.
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Postby Guest » 10/21/06 10:10 AM

...or should I have said - made it's way back into the magician's vernacular.
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Postby Guest » 10/21/06 02:52 PM

Anybody know who is involved for the magic props in this movie ??


:genii:
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Postby Guest » 10/23/06 09:24 AM

I'm just getting back to the thread after a while. I fully understand that novelists and filmmakers are entitled to invent new terms. I have no objection to that. I was just commenting, as a point of interest, that these made-up definitions are being parroted by critics (as in the NY Times) as actual terms of art. I also wanted to check whether the words were, in fact, actual terms of art so I asked the members of the Genii forum.
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Postby Guest » 10/23/06 09:49 AM

Originally posted by John Tudor:
...or should I have said - made it's way back into the magician's vernacular.
First, I like that double edged use of the word. Perhaps it will stick. Or perhaps it's just too dark.

About it's prior usage in our craft...check the interview with the author. He claims to have initiated THAT application. Then again he may be working on instructions from VALIS so check twice and keep a watch for the red dot.

But what about our literature? Got any sources? Greater Magic? Modern Conjurer? Discoverie of Witchcraft? Houdin's book? Hoffmann's books?

Puzzled in NY

Jon
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Postby Guest » 10/23/06 09:58 AM

Originally posted by Michel Asselin:
Yep, the birdcage ... contraption shown (which is sort of a steroid-boosted keplinger hold-out)...a legendary trick, something which will please the amateurs to no end.
This suggests a funny magic group trick where you show off the gear, vanish the cage then make the gear vanish as well and take off your jacket. The gear being a fake itself all set to go where the cage goes so when you ... no. no. wait a sec. Why not just vanish the gear leaving the cage and act surprised? Ladies and gentlemen, the vanishing vanisher! :D

Oh come on, it seemed to play using a watch winder. ;)
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Postby Guest » 10/23/06 11:25 AM

Originally posted by Tom Klem:
Perhaps some major public theater archives will start include magicians in their halls. I know, Tom, now you have stated the impossible. Perhaps it would make a good novel.
The magicians of that particular era were living in a greatly a different world then now. Magic and technology were running parrallell course, and anything seemed possible. The movie<s allusions to professional rivalry are reminescent of the wizard of the east - wizard of the west rivalities. We, as magicians, tend to see the story of magic through highly romanticised filters. I was genuinely excited and thrilled with the movie, and yet I do not think that it is as spellbinding a movie as, say, Shade... But maybe this is a different discussion altogheter.
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Postby Guest » 10/23/06 03:55 PM

Originally posted by Michel Asselin:
I was genuinely excited and thrilled with the movie, and yet I do not think that it is as spellbinding a movie as, say, Shade...
huh?
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Postby Guest » 11/16/06 01:53 PM

Shade spellbinding? You have got to be kidding. The best part of this film was the stuff that took place before the main titles. I found it very odd to hear Hal Holbrook as "The Professor" lecture to Vernon about the preference of magic as opposed to gambling as a way of life. I also hated to see the names of people I knew attached to actors who were nothing like their namesakes.
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Postby Guest » 11/16/06 02:21 PM

I also found it weird that Dad Stevens, supposedly the greatest card manipulator who ever lived, resorted to some kind of dumb marked cards which only could be read by "throwing your eyes out of focus."

This was a terrible movie by almost any standards. I do respect the guys who obviously love magic who attempted to make a good movie. Better luck next time.
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Postby Jeff Eline » 11/16/06 05:19 PM

Originally posted by Vernon's son:
This was a terrible movie by almost any standards.
I respectfully disagree. That's a bit harsh.
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