Question: In Angier's final performance Borden watches Angier's duplicate drown in the tank. Does the other Angier still reappear for the audience, and take a bow? They never explain this in the film. If he does take the bow, Borden would never have been accused of murder. If he doesn't take the bow, how does the duplicate know not to do so? The duplicate would have no idea that Borden was below stage.
Answer: No, he does not appear to take a bow. The set-up is as follows: Angier invites the audience on stage to observe the machine, but in reality it is so he can watch for Borden trying to work out the trick. When he sees Borden in the audience, he also knows Borden will not learn anything from the stage, and will go backstage. He then clones himself, and the clone is created with the exact knowledge he had at the time of the cloning, including Borden's presence and the trap the original Angier had set. So the "new" Angier hides away the best he can, letting Borden be framed for the murder of the "original" Angier. Had he appeared, not only would it ruin his plan of framing Borden, but it would also reveal how he had done his trick, and he would not allow any of those to happen, no matter what.
Question: When Borden and Fallon are in the same scene, is someone else playing Fallon? Or does Christian Bale play both, the same way Arnie Hammer did on Social Network?
Answer: It's Bale, at least whenever you can see Fallon's face. The same way they do twins played by the same person in any other film.
Question: Could someone tell me what Borden says to himself about two seconds before he dies? I've seen this movie several times now but I can't make out what he says.
Answer: He whispers "Abracadabra".
Borden says "Abracadabra" before he dies, which is a Latin word. Magicians use this word to indicate something special is going to happen after the magical spell.
Question: In the very last shot before the credits, the camera has pulled back to reveal a row of tanks containing dead Jackmans. Does this imply that not only did the Tesla machine replicate Angier, but also the tank? One assumes then that Angier has had the forethought to place a floor between where he materializes and the newly replicated tanks appear.
Answer: As we see when Borden goes down under the stage to try to learn how the trick is performed, the tank is already in place before the machine is activated. Angier is using a large number of identical tanks, which is probably one of the deciding factors in only performing the trick a limited number of times.
Question: Was Christopher Bale's character a twin or a "clone" made by Telsa's machine? (Because Bale's keyword for his diary is "TESLA" and when Hugh Jackman's character actually goes to see Tesla, he states that he knows he made a similar machine for his competitor. Bale?)
Answer: They were twins. Tesla didn't make a matching machine for Borden - all he made for the twins was a machine that made some light and noise to enhance their trick. The Borden brothers sent Angier off to see Tesla on what they thought would be a wild goose chase, just to get him out of the way for a while - they would never actually give away the real secret to their trick. They never anticipated that Tesla could actually have built the machine in question.
Question: When Angier tries out the machine in Tesla's burning lab, he creates a double of himself. One of them shoots the other, but who is the one who dies? I've seen this movie several times but still can't figure who is left standing - the copy or the original?
Answer: It is impossible to know for sure if the machine creates a clone away from the machine or if it creates a clone in the machine while teleporting the original away from the machine. Even Angier himself could never know for sure, as the clone - having only just been created - would share Angier's memories up to that point of creation. Both the man in the machine and the man away from the machine have the EXACT same memories up until that point, so both could realistically claim to be the original. Tesla himself thought the machine not to work, until Angier stumbled upon the hats. The creator of the machine barely understood its function, so we never get clarification as to its specific workings. Angier points out in the end how he understood that by sharing the memories of the clone up until the moment of its creation, he (and thus we) could never know for sure if he would be the man in the box or the prestige.
Question: At the very end of the movie, Michael Caine states that the audience wants to be fooled as a dead Angier is shown in a water tank. What does this mean?
Answer: It means exactly what he says - the reason that illusion shows are successful is that the audience, whether they admit it or not, want to be fooled by the illusions that they see. They don't want to see what lies behind it.
Question: In the beginning, Angier's wife dies in the tank. Even if Borden did tie a knot for her that she couldn't get out of, someone had changed the lock of the tank before the act. Who changed the lock? Was it Borden? And if it was Borden, why would he want to kill Angier's wife?
Chosen answer: The lock on the tank is just a dummy lock. It's there to make the audience believe that the tank is actually locked during the trick. Julia couldn't escape because she couldn't slip the knot that Borden tied. He didn't intend to kill her. The revelation of the lock being changed was from a different scene altogether and was part of Angier's plot to frame Borden, it had nothing to do with Julia or the trick she performed.
Answer: Before the incident, Borden and Julia had an argument that she can escape from any kind of knot. So, Borden ties a different knot, Julia is unable to untie it. There is no issue with the tank.
Question: When Borden's wife says she knows what is going on with him, does she really know? It seemed like she thought she knew, but was wrong. Was that clarified and I just missed something?
Chosen answer: She knew it. That's why she warns Borden of revealing who he really was to Olivia.
Answer: That quote from Olivia was not actually in the script and was improvised by the actress.
Question: When Tesla first tests the 'machine', the original hat stays in place, while the copies appear in the woods. Does this mean that whenever Hugh Jackman's character uses the machine during his show, he is actually sending a copy of himself up into the balcony, and sending himself to drown below the stage? If this is so, the implication would be that the 'copies' contain every memory, etc. of the original Hugh, up to and including the point at which the copies are made.
Answer: Tesla himself suggests the mechanism is not so much "a copy" as "a pair of duplicates." Neither is the original and neither is a copy. They are both the same individual, there are just two of then now. One got teleported and the other did not. Admittedly, it requires a pretty abstract point of view to understand it.
Answer: Angier states himself as he is dying that it took courage for him to step into his machine every night, because he didn't know if he'd be the one that ends up drowning or the one that ends up in the prestige. So the teleportation/cloning is entirely random.
Question: This is more of a "what if" question, but I have to ask: theoretically, wouldn't the audience have been more impressed by a cloning machine than a disappear-reappear illusion? Couldn't Angier have vastly outsold Borden by showing the audience he can make a copy of himself (of course, pretending it's only an illusion, and only to kill the clone backstage at a later date)?
Answer: There have been twin magicians in real life who use their secret to do this kind of trick. Audiences would tend to be more impressed by this just based on bewilderment of "how did he do it" because the magician could "reappear" faster than expected. However, once you put the twins side by side, even pretending it's a clone, it starts to break down the illusion because people would believe it's twins rather than a clone. In fact, when twins "reappear" too fast (say a hypothetical teleporting trick), people tend to suspect a twin or look-a-like rather than "magic".
Question: Couldn't Angier have kept the one clone alive and simply dropped him below stage each time he did the trick. Did he really have to keep killing them?
Answer: Yep. He's tried working with a double before, and it backfired on him badly. Plus there's the obvious danger of the secret of the trick being revealed if there are multiple copies of him running around - every time the trick is performed, another Angier is made, which becomes a delicate situation after the 4th or 5th performance. Besides, Angier himself would have to be the one dropping below the stage, leaving the clone, up on the balcony, to receive the adulation of the crowd - he hated that before and would be unlikely to want to repeat the experience. Plus the trick would be too easy - he believes firmly that Borden doesn't use a double and wants to have a trick that beats him; to simply work with a double wouldn't give him that satisfaction.
Question: What significance do the melted hats have on the field outside scientist's lab?
Chosen answer: They weren't melted. They were duplicated hats and they were there because the transportation machine Tesla was working on worked more like a fax machine instead of a mere transporter, creating a duplicate in another location.
Question: SPOILER WARNING: Why was it necessary for the two Borden's to alternate women? For mere amusement? Or was there something I missed?
Answer: They did not spend time with their loved ones, at least not the whole time: Sometimes Sarah would feel that "no, today you don't [love me.]" and once a Borden twin says to Olivia, after she kissed him, that "it feels wrong sometimes". Furthermore, there is a scene where Borden tells Fallon (his twin) that he should talk to Sarah after a struggle, indicating that this particular Borden is not Sarah's husband and this particular Fallon actually is. As to why the alternate: One theory is that they HAVE to alternate to minimize diverging life experiences, both on stage and off stage. They both have to live the life of the other so that none differs too much in order to not reveal these differences to outsiders. In the book however, they do not alternate between the women, but that is another story [literally].
Question: Would it be possible that the coin that Borden gave to the kid is the same prop used in "The Dark Knight" (Two Face/Harvey Dent Coin)? I mean, Cristopher Nolan is the director of both movies, so it could be possible.
Answer: No, the coins are completely distinct from one another. If you look, the coin in The Prestige has a Queen Victoria on its faces making it appropriate for the setting of Victorian England. Meanwhile the coin of The Dark Knight is labeled with the word Liberty, marking it as an American coin, and the year 1922, which is well after The Prestige takes place.
Question: The scene where Angier and Cutter capture Fallon is the one scene in the movie I still don't understand. Why does Borden decide to walk after the show, why does Fallon follow Angier, and how did Angier know that Fallon was going to follow him in the back alley so that they could trap him?
Answer: Borden decided to walk simply because he felt like it; Fallon noticed Angier start to follow him (Borden), and was worried he might do something (remember, earlier Angier shot Borden's fingers off), and so tailed him; Angier knew that Fallon and Borden were inseparable, and that Fallon would follow him, and so broke off from Borden and trusted that Fallon's curiosity would lead him to fall into the trap.
Question: At the beginning, Robert Angier (the Great Danton) travels to Colorado Springs to see Nikola Tesla. When Angier meets Tesla's assistant, Alley, it's obvious that his arrival was not expected. Angier then explains that Tesla had built a machine for Angier's colleague (and Angier wants to purchase the same or similar machine). However, when Alfred Borden gave Angier the "Tesla" clue, it was a complete ruse to waste Angier's time and money and throw him far off the much simpler secret of The Transported Man trick. Tesla had never built such a machine for Borden and had never attempted to build a teleportation device before. So, why did Tesla just agree to build the mysterious machine without questioning Angier's "colleague" remark? Was Tesla colluding with Alfred Borden? And why?
Chosen answer: Tesla was not colluding with anyone...he built Borden a simple machine that created lightning effects. So Borden thinks Tesla is just a red herring, and he has no idea Tesla can actually build a teleportation device. Tesla, however, takes on the challenge, and ends up inventing the cloning machine. He doesn't think anything of the remark about Borden because he did, in fact, build a machine for him...just not the one Angier is thinking of.
Question: Why was Angier's first name of Rupert in the novel changed to Robert for the film?
Answer: I learned the answer to this today while reading the novel, in which Angier states that the name "Rupert" attracts amused inquisitiveness from Americans, so while traveling in the United States, he goes by Robert or Robbie.
Question: When Cutter arrives below stage to find Angier drowning in the tank he sees Borden hitting the glass trying to break it, desperately trying to save Angier, but why does he tell the court that Borden was just watching him drown?
Answer: Cutter believes that Borden set up the tank as a trap. It doesn't make sense that Borden would then try to save Angier, so it seems reasonable that Cutter believed Borden was simply putting on a show for the witnesses because he was caught red-handed. Cutter pushes Borden out of the way and exclaims "What have you done!" as he happens upon the scene, so it is clear he doesn't believe Borden is actually trying to save Angier.
Answer: Angier always wants to take revenge on Borden as he is the reason behind the death of his wife. He knows that Borden is in the crowd the two times, first time, Olivia suggests Borden to watch the new "Transported Man" trick of Angier, where Borden finds out the trap door in the bottom of the machine, second time, Borden wants to know how Angier flies that distance with in seconds through the trap door. As expected by the Angier in the final play, Borden reaches the back stage where actual Angier is drowning (it is as always actual Angier drowns and the replica of Angier appears at some distance in every performance). So, as per the plan the replica hides to create an impression that Borden intentionally murders Angier. Note: the replica of Angier has the same ability and sense like actual Angier.
It's never stated whether the "real" Angier drowns or takes the bow, but it's implied that it doesn't matter - as the clone is a perfect copy, they are both "Angier." Angier at one point says, referring to toll the trick has taken on him, that each time he did it, even he himself didn't know whether he would be the man in the box or the prestige. Similarly, when Angier asked Tesla which hat of all the duplicates was his, Tesla replied "They are all your hat."