[Quick Summary: Two magicians spare nothing in trying to best the other.]
I am impressed.
This is the strongest themed script I've seen in awhile.
In my opinion, the theme of obsession is super-effective here because:
1) It is present on multiple levels.
- Magicians obsessed with diverting audiences (professional)
- Magicians obsessed with revealing a rival's tricks (personal)
- Men obsessed with being the best (psychological)
- Men obsessed with reputation over family, loyalty, love (relationships)
2) It can be seen whenever a flaw is taken to the extreme.
Here, both the hero and villain are competitive (flaw).
When they take competition to the extreme, we see the obsession.
ex. "INT. HOTEL ROOM, COLORADO --NIGHT
Angier writing in his leather-bound journal.
ANGIER (V.O.):...happiness that should have been mine. But I was wrong. [Personal]
Angier glances at Borden's notebook sitting on the desk.
ANGIER (V.O.): Reading his account I realized that he never had the life I envied. [Psychological]
Angier flips open the notebook. Staring at the coded writing.
ANGIER: The family life he craves one minute he rails against the next, demanding freedom. His mind is a divided one... [Relationships]
INT. PRISON CELL --DAY
Borden sits on his cot. Reading Angier's journal.
ANGIER (V.O.): His soul restless. His wife and child tormented by his fickle and contradictory nature... [Relationships]
Borden is crying . He puts the journal down and jumps to his feet BANGING on the cell door.
BORDEN: Guard! Guard!
The viewing slot slides open.
GUARD: What do you want, Professor?
BORDEN: Paper and pencil. Please." [Psychological]
WHAT I'VE LEARNED: Pick a flaw. Take it to the extreme. The result is likely my theme.
The Prestige (2006)
by Jonathan Nolan and Christopher Nolan
Based on the novel by Christopher Priest