Quick post just to put my money where my mouth is. I’ve made a few tweets today talking about the protagonist and antagonist in The Prestige. These came about because I’ve been exploring the Hollywood Formula as a way to add depth to my writing, and because I love the movie. In part because it’s so challenging to figure out just who the protagonist and antagonist are. I was discussing it with my wife last night, and I believe she’s gotten it exactly right, so we’ll likely be rewatching this weekend with an eye towards the theory, and to pick out who the relationship character is in this theory.
I’m going to put a break in here because, while shame on you if you haven’t seen it yet, the protagonist/antagonist theory involves a very big plot spoiler.
The protagonist is Christian Bale’s character. The antagonist is Christian Bale’s character. Now, the Hollywood formula specifically states that the antagonist cannot be the character himself, nor can it be conditions, situations, or any other non-human element. So most people go into the debate trying to decide whether Bale or Jackman is the protagonist and forget the big twist.
Christian Bale is playing identical twins.
One of the twins, the protagonist, is married. His goal is to live his life on his term. The other twin, the antagonist, is the one pushing for the magic show to continue. He is putting up obstacles to the protagonist achieving his goal. It is only through the death of the antagonist twin that the protagonist twin achieves the goal.
My wife laid this out perfect, and I really have to give her full credit for the theory. I was initially falling into the same trap that I’ve seen any number of others fall into when debating this, thinking of Bale and Jackman as two characters instead of three, and thus assuming that Jackman must be either the protagonist or antagonist. Who is he then? I don’t think he’s the relationship character, so I think he’s entirely a red herring, which is fantastic. We’ll see. As I said, we’re going to rewatch this weekend with this theory in mind and see (a) if it holds up and (b) who the relationship character is.
Watch for a new Writer Review on Monday or Tuesday.