“Sacrifice… that’s the price of a good trick” remarks the intriguing Alfred Borden in the Christopher Nolan directed classic “The Prestige”. What makes this character intriguing is the fact that the character is split between two identical looking individual i.e. identical twins. The fact that the complexity of this character is brought out with great realism by the charismatic Christian Bale makes this character extremely intriguing to watch.
The basic premise of the movie is based on the fight for supremacy between two magicians Robert Angier/The Great Danton/Lord Caldlow( Hugh Jackman) and Alfred Borden/The Professor/Bernard Fallon( Christian Bale) both working for “Milton the magician” and Ingenieur John Cutter(Michael Caine). Although the conflict between the two magicians is sparked when during a water tank escape trick Angier’s wife Julia(Piper Perabo) drowns and dies and Angier blames Borden for tying the wrong knot during the trick and leading to her tragic death due to drowning. It is this unfortunate incident that then results in a battle for supremacy between Angier and Borden including the use of sabotage. This conflict between the two magicians eventually results in tragic consequences and which ultimately leads to a climax with a twist.
The character Alfred Borden/Fallon is not only full of mystery but is also complex too. The fact that Alfred and Fallon are identical twins is the main reason why the character is complex. What also makes Alfred an extremely fascinating as a character is his obsession to prove to the world that he is the truly a greater magician than his nemesis Robert Angier and, for that he can go to any lengths. The simple fact that he hides the truth of him possessing an identical twin brother i.e. Fallon even from his wife Sarah(Rebecca Hall) just to protect the secret of his magic trick “The Transported Man” shows us the extent of his obsession regarding his profession. Also the clever use of Angier’s beautiful assistant Olivia(Scarlett Johansson) (who is sent by Angier as a spy to find out the secret of Borden’s trick The Transported Man) to double cross Angier clearly indicates that Borden is not only an obsessed man but also a highly intelligent man capable of using manipulations for his needs.
This complex yet fascinating character is played by the charismatic and ever brilliant Christian Bale with great panache. So whether it consists of great use of body language especially the use of his face or subtle voice modulation he is brilliant and a sheer joy to watch. More importantly it is the soul of this character i.e. obsession to be the best that is brilliantly brought to life by Bale with absolute realism through his performance.
So with lots shades of grey this character of Alfred Borden/Fallon is certainly a very rare and extremely fascinating character that the world of cinema has seen in recent years. An outstanding performance by Christian Bale only adds more charm to this complex character. More importantly this character shows us how extreme obsession can only lead to agony and not happiness.