Friday, June 13, 2008


Last night, I was rather disturbed when I watched the Prestige. Not because of the movie's content, but because I could not recall any of the basic plot developments of the story. This upset me because I read the book in the mid-90s and quite liked it. I liked it enough to send it to a few friends. But as I watched the movie, it was as if I had never read it! This is no slight against the book, thinking of other favorite books that I read back then, like the novels of Robertson Davies, I suspect I would hard pressed to describe the goings on.

The movie is great, with excellent acting all around, but particularly from the two leads, Christian Bale and Hugh Jackman. A number of reviews have complained that the movie doesn't play by the rules it establishes, which I think isn't quite right. While the movie appears to be about stage magic, I think it is more about art and obsession, although the technique of misdirection clearly plays a role.

Having watched the movie, I now want to turn back to the books of Christopher Priest. He is a writer of speculative fiction, which is to say books both literary and geeky. This is a tough spot to be in, as any whiff of genre can send the literary types running, while the limited use of technology and action curtails the science fiction side of things.

Having read the Prestige, I went on to the Extremes, a book I found decent, but not worth recommending. From what I can tell, that book is not considered his best, so now I am going to look for his better regarded books, including Inverted World which is about to be re-issued by the New York Review of Books Classics line. I've also ordered the Separation, a book that plays on some of the same themes of dualism that the Prestige does.


CitizenReader said...

I loved "Prestige" the movie. One of the few films where I could stand Scarlett Johanson, but I think that was largely due to the fantastic work done by Bale and Jackman. Christian Bale is a supertalent and I for one cannot wait for The Dark Knight.

Okay, I got distracted there. I have been meaning to read "The Prestige," although my husband tells me it is so different from the movie as to be almost a completely separate story. He liked both the book and the movie though, which says interesting things about the movie adaptation process, I thought. Thanks for the reminder about this book.

Tripp said...

OK I feel a little better. If your husband says it is wildly different, than maybe my brain isn't quite as worn down as I thought.