The Director's Notebook: The Cinematic Sleight of Hand of Christopher Nolan (Video 2007) Poster

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5/10
An Inside Look At The Victorian Era And 'The Prestige'
ccthemovieman-129 June 2007
Director Christopher Nolan gives us his thoughts on his film, "The Prestige," discussing a number of topics in this 20-minute documentary that is broken down into a handful of chapters. "The Prestige," for those not familiar with the movie, is about magicians competing against each other at the latter part of the 19th century.

Some of the more interesting things I thought he said included: "The Victorian Era is often mischaracterized as being stuffy and repressive but really, it was an extraordinarily exciting time in human development and the Industrial Revolution. You had the birth of electricity, of cinema and photography and science was being turned on its head in all kinds of ways. There was huge changes in everything and the world was made smaller for the first time."

He's wrong on photography, which was going strong by the Civil War days and before.

This documentary is very slanted in the secular outlook on everything. Nolan extols the fact that "evolution" was being promoted and actor Hugh Jackman claims that "there were more spiritualists, those dealing in the occult, than there were Christians in America, at this time." I doubt that very seriously since America was almost all Christian its first few centuries.

Nolan and the actors interviewed all agreed that the art of deception, of making a living by "conning" others was interesting and still a very concept that's with us today. One listens to this gibberish and you get a keener sense of just how the secular world of filmmakers think. To then, "science" is everything

I found the rest of this documentary more interesting as they discussed how big "advertising" was back in the Victorian Era with posters everywhere and showed how they transformed Los Angeles back into time,

Most of the rest is technical talk about camera work. The documentary also plays tribute to Tesla, one of the most interesting inventors of all time, a man who dealt with electricity and who is part of this feature film.,
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7/10
Good stuff
TBJCSKCNRRQTreviews11 July 2017
This is 19 minute long, and is the sole documentary on the DVD of The Prestige. It consists of film clips, interviews with cast and crew, and behind the scenes footage.

The Director's Notebook is 3 and a half minutes long. It's about the meta aspect of how the movie talks about magic performances in ways that it's also about the picture's effect on people. That it used science to trick people. Spiritualism versus religion.

Conjuring The Past is 5 minutes long. They go into the visual design. Casting actors not common to period pieces to make it more contemporary. Costumes.

The Visual Maze is 3 and a half minutes long. Discussed is the way the filming is loose, with long takes, only the crew knowing who the camera is on, and how challenging that is.

Metaphors of Deception is 3 and a half minutes long. In this as well as the novel it's based on, they used certain elements to engage and fool the audience.

Tesla: The Man Who Invented the Twentieth Century is 2 and a half minutes long. The man had to be a minor, though important, character, or he would be too big to cover in a single feature. In ways an underdog, many of his ideas were rejected, when today, he has been proved right. David Bowie(RIP) being the first and only choice for Nolan.

Resonances is 1 minute long. The director himself talks about what he hopes to achieve with the finished product. About the latter half of it is scrolling text that tells us important dates.

I recommend this to anyone who wants to know more about the subject. 7/10
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Slightly above the level of being a promotional puff piece, but not a huge amount better than that
bob the moo12 July 2007
I had quite enjoyed The Prestige (albeit not to the point of hysteria as some seem to) and it interested me sufficiently to check out this off the DVD extras. Although it has a touch of "promotional extra" about it, the short film does it in just about enough detail (maybe not the right word) to be more than that. Split into four or five short sections by topic, the film looks at the making of the film, the character of Tesla, the use of hand-held cameras etc. As such it does work on a basic level but really when you consider how well written and delivered The Prestige was, it probably did deserve better than this.

The contributions cover a range of people and, unusual for this sort of thing, it is actually a problem to have too many people with too little time to speak each. Nolan is of course interesting, while contributions from novelist, cinematographer, set designer etc are all shorter but worthwhile. Bale talks sense Jackman doesn't sound like he is saying his own words while, like the film itself, Johansson just seems out of place. The general themes of the film are touched on but those who fill the message boards with grand theories about machines not working etc will be disappointed to learn that there is none of that here and, like the film itself, the chat is pretty forward.

Slightly above the level of being a promotional puff piece then, but not a huge amount better than that.
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