The Real Prestige

One of my all-time favorite movies is The Prestige, one of Christopher Nolan’s earlier films before he became Batman. Hopefully you’ve seen it–it features Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale as dueling magicians. If you haven’t seen it, stop reading, because there will be massive spoilers in this blog entry.

(break for people who want to avoid spoilers)

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Okay, so in The Prestige, Christian Bale plays twins who have a masterful trick–they’ve gone many, many years without letting people realize that they’re twins. One of them is always in disguise.

This allows them to perform some pretty incredible tricks that appear to people as if they’re teleporting. Meanwhile, Hugh Jackman tries to master the same trick, not realizing Bale has the advantage of being a twin.

What does that have to do with “the real prestige”? Well, my latest YouTube fix is Penn & Teller’s “Fool Us.” It’s a show where magicians try to fool Penn & Teller. It’s pretty great.

EntertainingTheMagicCircleRecently (well, maybe not recently, but I watched the episode recently), a pair of magicians named Young and Strange appeared on the show with a trick that makes me thinking they’re actually using the trick from The Prestige. Which, if they’re really doing it, is amazing.

Watch the video, and pause at 4:06. It’s a very clever transition, but I’m pretty sure that the guy who runs over to get the flag is not the same guy who runs back out. There’s then a transition regarding a locked box, and then he appears to teleport to the back of the theater at 5:08.

Except I don’t think teleportation was involved. I think the original magician–the pre-flag-transfer magician–has run to the back of the theater while his twin brother took the stage and is hiding behind the box.

Penn & Teller don’t spoil the tricks for the audience; rather, they hint to the magicians if they figured it out. Penn says at 7:04, gesturing towards himself and Teller, “Would we be able to do that act?” The magicians thank him for his time to make sure he doesn’t keep talking.

I’m not sure if this is really how they do the trick, but I think there’s a pretty good chance this is correct. If so, it’s pretty amazing. I can’t imagine what they go through to prevent the twins from being seen in the same place. Surely people close to them must know, right?

If you watch the clip, let me know what you think:

5 thoughts on “The Real Prestige”

  1. I’ve been on a similar run of watching P&T videos as of late and I had seen this and thought nothing more of it. But you’re right. What Penn asks is very telling, and in hindsight I don’t know how else they could be doing it.

    • Brian: They’re quite entertaining, aren’t they? There’s another Young & Strange video where they do something similar that would only be possible if a twin were involved.

  2. This is a pretty neat trick, but the magicians are not twins, right? The beginning of the video has them with each of their parents and it looks like they aren’t even brothers. I’ve watched this about 10 times now and can’t figure out how they’ve pulled off the teleportation trick– the closest guess I have is that the box may have some kind of trick hinge that allows it to be pushed open from inside (like a piano hinge that is magnetic or something), but even that seems like it would be really hard to pull off without it being obvious.


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