“Every great magic trick consists of three parts or acts.”
– Christopher Priest
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Magic Month continues here at Munch, and this time, we’re bringing you one of the best magic movies of all time: The Prestige. We also took on one of the most ambitious and creative meals we’ve ever attempted. We followed Christopher Priest’s (Michael Caine) legendary instructions for how to perform a good magic trick and took that advice into the kitchen. We crafted our own trick, and unlike most magic tricks we’re going to tell you exactly how we did it. Watch closely, you may miss it if you blink.
The first part is called “The Pledge”. The magician shows you something ordinary: a deck of cards, a bird or a man. He shows you this object. Perhaps he asks you to inspect it to see if it is indeed real, unaltered, normal. But of course… it probably isn’t.
For our Pledge, we took something very ordinary: corn. Take a look at the corn in this salad. It looks normal, right? You see some fennel, some feta, and it looks pretty normal. But as you know, it probably isn’t.
The second act is called “The Turn”. The magician takes the ordinary something and makes it do something extraordinary. Now you’re looking for the secret… but you won’t find it, because of course you’re not really looking. You don’t really want to know. You want to be fooled.
Remember that corn from before? What was once there is no more. But you know it is somewhere magic isn’t real after all. We’ve transformed it into an extraordinary sauce, coating our pasta. The kernels of corn are nowhere to be seen, but corn surrounds and encompasses the whole dish. You sense its presence.
But you wouldn’t clap yet. Because making something disappear isn’t enough; you have to bring it back. That’s why every magic trick has a third act, the hardest part, the part we call “The Prestige”
And finally, our Prestige. We bring the corn back, in the form of a corn panna cotta. Thick, creamy, and sweet, it’s everything you want out of a panna cotta, while still being undeniably corn. Top it with some mango sauce and our magic trick has been revealed.
We took a slightly different path for the drink. Turning away from magic for a moment, we decided to focus on the other star of the film, Nikola Tesla. Tesla drank whiskey every day, believing it to be a “veritable elixir of life.” We like where his head is at, so we created our own whiskey based cocktail, which we have named “Tesla’s Elixir.” It mixes whiskey and citrus, giving it a good electric zip. And enjoy the reference to a famous electrifying feud hidden within. The recipe is as follows:
Add 1.5 ounces of whiskey and half an ounce of Cointreau to a shaker, along with the juice of a lemon wedge. Add ice and shake. Pour into your elixir bottle of choice, add a splash of lemon lime soda, and top with a float of Grand Marnier.
These rules will be in effect throughout all of Magic Month.
✨ Drink whenever magic happens.
💫 Drink whenever someone in the movie expresses disbelief in magic.
😲 Drink whenever you, the viewer, are in shock.
It’s fair to say we at Munch are all big Christopher Nolan fans, so it should come as no surprise to you that we loved The Prestige. The acting, the writing, and the cinematography were all on point. If you haven’t seen it yet, stop reading here! It’s a great movie and certainly worth your time. We’d hate to spoil any of the magic for you.
Okay, if you’re still reading, it’s fair to assume you’ve seen The Prestige, or don’t really care about spoilers right? So we don’t need to explain it to you or sell you on how good it is, you already know. Instead, we’re going to point out some things we noticed on this watch that we loved.
The movie tells you right away how Hugh Jackman’s Teleported Man trick is performed. As Michael Caine explains the three stages of a magic trick, he shows a bird to the audience, makes the bird disappear, and brings it back. A few minutes later, you see that he got the bird to “disappear” by killing it in a collapsing cage and showed the audience an identical bird, the original’s brother. Seems cruel then, but you know how much worse it is at the end.
Right after that, the movie shows how Christian Bale’s Teleported Man trick is performed. Christian Bale watches a decrepit magician pull off a trick that would require immense strength to pull off, and Christian Bale realizes that the hobble, which is present on- and off-stage, is all for show. The magician dedicated his whole life to pull off the trick, and Christian Bale is most likely aware of the trick the magician is pulling off.
Everything you need to figure out all the twists is there in the movie! Unlike the last movie we watched, Now You See Me, The Prestige respects its audience. Nolan gave us a fair shot at figuring everything out and hid all the answers in plain sight. However, we wanted to be tricked, and fell into his web of intricate storytelling, allowing ourselves to be distracted by all the clues. He earns each and every twist by presenting the facts in plain sight but focusing your attention elsewhere, not by hiding the trick from the audience. This is what makes The Prestige one of the most impressive movies about magic we’ve ever seen.
André: I wanted to be fooled. The saddest part about watching a Christopher Nolan movie is knowing you’ll never be able to watch it again for the first time. The way he unfolds his twists is masterful, and I love being awed as it all starts to come together. I can’t get too upset about not being able to watch a Nolan movie for the first time again, though, because subsequent viewings are so rewarding. I love looking for the clues I missed the first time around, and never get tired of re-watching any of his movies. The Prestige is no exception.
Leanna: Abra, Kadabra, Alakazam. This film captures your attention in the beginning, and as it reveals more and more details it pulls you in further and further. By the time you’ve reached the end, you’re so laser-focused on how these two men do their tricks that you missed all of the hints Nolan dropped leading up to the big reveal(s). Although watching this film for the first time is best, you are still rewarded for repeat watches. It’s not inconceivable that I’ll watch this again one day.
Ben: 88%. The Prestige is honestly not talked about enough this days. It is a solid film front to back that is intensely interested in showing morally gray characters that you really have no interest in siding with one magician or the other. It is a film about obsession and how it can delude and become a disguise of its own, much like the magicians in this film are so oft want to do. As the film progresses it seems to flip between scenes and time frames at an increasingly rapid clip leading to a spectacular climax that leaves you searching through the memories you have of the film piecing it all together. One of the few critiques I may have about the film is focused more on the visual style the film itself has. It doesn’t have the same moodiness and focus on presenting darkly beautiful scenes that later Christopher Nolan films exceed so well at. But all of this is to say that The Prestige is truly magical.
Want more? Listen to us talk about The Prestige on iTunes or wherever you listen to podcasts.