2006 seems like such a faraway time and place from the tragic vantage point of 2020. I remember I had just started a new job, one where I would be traveling all over the country, mostly to little Podunk towns in Nowheresville, USA, to provide in person setup and training in the financial software industry. Not glamorous by any means.
Most of the locations were so small in population that oftentimes I had to stay thirty minutes to an hour away in a larger town or city just to find hotel accommodations. In fact, there’s a lot of wide open spaces and empty highways if one cares to journey across the States. You can read about my thoughts on that here. Population Bomb.
Many times I would be the sole trainer so I would find myself with nothing much to do in the evening after eating supper. To kill time and make the days pass just a little quicker I would often hit up local movie theatres and try to catch up on any good flicks that happened to be playing. Some weeks I might see three or four movies if there was enough fodder to pique my interest.
In 2006 there was not one, but three films about magic or magicians that would grace the silver screen. There was really only one that I was interested in and that was the Christopher Nolan film The Prestige. I was already a fan of his earlier films such as Memento and I was intrigued by what he was doing with comic book films with his take on Batman.
The subject matter was neither here nor there to me really, as I was already decidedly in the “magic bad” (read like “HULK SMASH”) camp and knew that the wool wouldn’t be pulled over my eyes. I was more interested in Nolan’s take on it since typically his films are very cerebral and make one think.
But the film did indeed pull the wool over my eyes. The magic is real. And it also opened my eyes.
I normally insert some sort of spoiler warning when talking about movies, but this one, you probably really should watch if you haven’t. I think the impact alone if you go into it unspoiled is worth the price of admission. Really. I can wait here until you come back. Honest.
Ok, well you either listened to me or you didn’t. The choice was yours.
The film blew me away because it basically smacks you in the face with a 2×4 right with the very first scene. But the beauty is you won’t even know you’ve been hit until the movie is over. A second viewing becomes a must as you pick your jaw up off the floor. Or at least I had to…maybe I’m just odd that way.
You see, the film opens with a shot of a pile of black top hats strewn across a forest floor. There’s no other dialogue or indication given, but the entire twist of the movie has already been revealed in the opening seconds. You, as the viewer, simply do not know it yet. And you don’t want to know.
The film, on a surface level, is about two dueling magicians in London circa the 1890s. One is a great showman with tremendous stage presence, Robert Angier or “The Great Danton”. While great on stage, he lacks any sort of creativity when it comes to devising new tricks. Alfred Borden or “The Professor”, on the other hand, has a fantastic technical mind for coming up with new tricks, but lacks any sort of charisma or showmanship. The dialectic is formed.
Their feud begins while they are still aspiring magicians working as shills for an established magician. I’ll say that again. Shills. For magicians. You know, the people they “randomly” pick out of the crowd to assist with a trick? Anyhoo…
Angier’s wife Julia is the lovely lady assistant. She is the center piece in a water tank trick where the magician binds her hands and locks her in and she has to free herself and escape. Borden uses a different, more risky type of knot and Julia drowns. Angier separates from Borden in anger as Borden claims he doesn’t know which knot he used. From there they both begin their careers as rival magicians.
In a key scene the main characters watch a smaller scale magic show with an old, wizened Chinese magician. The old man appears to be hunched over and walks in a small shuffling walk. The finale of his show has him making a large water-filled glass bowl complete with live goldfish disappear. As they watch the man shuffle offstage and then later leave the theatre, Borden tells Angier that he has figured out the trick. The old man shuffles and walks bent over all of the time for the sole sake of being able to pull off this trick. The reason being is that he has the fish bowl clasped between his thighs and is actually still carrying it around even after the show is over. All for show. To make it real. They marvel at the commitment and sacrifice required. Pure and true artistry on display.
As the film advances and the rivalry intensifies, Borden creates a trick called The Transported Man where he bounces a red ball on stage, steps back into a wooden closet on one side and then emerges from a second wooden closet on the other end to catch the ball. He then opens the door of the first closet to reveal that it is empty.
Angier cannot fathom how he does the trick outside of using a body double. So he enlists the help of a drunken fool who happens to look like him. Angier’s version of the trick, with much better production value, sees him fall through a trap door under the stage while the drunken look alike basks in the applause and glory from the audience.
Unsatisfied that this is how Borden does his version of the trick, Angier begins a process of espionage to try to find the secret. Borden, meanwhile, hires an ingenieur of his own named Fallon to not only assist him with his act, but also to carry out his own counter-espionage. Angier ends up with a copy of Borden’s encrypted notebook but cannot decode it. He resorts to kidnapping Fallon and threatens to kill him.
Fallon gives him the cipher key: TESLA.
This ultimately leads Angier to Colorado Springs to meet the legendary Nikola Tesla. Angier is convinced that Borden is actually teleporting himself somehow and now The Great Danton wants Tesla to build him a machine that will do the same for him. Tesla’s time is cut short however, as agent saboteurs from Thomas Edison’s camp drive him out. The rivalry of Tesla and Edison is fascinating in its own right. The inclusion in the film along with David Bowie portraying Tesla is surely no accident. But all that is probably best left for another paper.
Tesla delivers a machine that sort of makes good on the promise. You see, rather than teleporting any object that stands within the fantastical lightning arcs in between the coils, it merely produces a clone several feet away. A perfect copy. But you don’t want to think about that. The show must go on.
Angier is now able to pull off what he calls The Real Transported Man. He renovates a huge theatre and when he teleports he’s able to appear in the upper balcony of the front of the house. An impossible distance to travel in such little time. When Borden sees the show for himself, now it is he who cannot understand how Angier can do this instantaneously. He knows that there must be a trap door so he steals down underneath the stage and when the trick is performed he’s shocked to see Angier drop from the trap door into a water tank that immediately locks.
Borden watches Angier drown in front of him, somehow producing a sick retribution for Julia.
This is obviously a small summary of events and I’ve left out many important details. You really should watch the film. My simple prose cannot convey the brilliance of the twists and turns and truth in the film.
Remember the first scene with those top hats?
The machine makes a clone of whatever stands in the electric arcs. The clone appears several feet away. The Great Danton that appears on the balcony is the new copy. The existing man drops to his death in the tank so as not to create multiple clones that would run amok. He literally kills a version of himself just so that he can be the man who gets the applause and prestige.
But the bigger reveal here is that, as I said, the key to understanding the movie was given to you right from the start. Tesla was testing the machine with top hats prior to trying any live experiments. Like any good magic trick, the misdirection was applied and you couldn’t see the sleight of hand. Or maybe you just didn’t want to.
The real kicker is that it is precisely this technique that virtually all entertainment uses to communicate things that will come to pass. As I’ve mentioned previously, they just love to tell you what they’re going to do. And they absolutely get their jollies off at the fact that we just eat popcorn while laughing, crying or oohing and awing all the while being too stupid to understand that they’re performing the magic trick in real life. The Powers That Should Not Be play the long game.
Don’t believe me?
Let’s just look at two examples. There are many more. Think of any large scale event that has taken place in recent history. They’ve told us about it.
9/11. The big one. You think that was an off the cuff terrorist attack dreamed up overnight?
The 1979 cover of the album Breakfast in America by the group Supertramp. Look what happens when you reverse the image. Kinda like playing the record in reverse. It’s an occult thing. They love to invert everything. Just look at the smile on that waitress’s face. Somebody had a wonderful breakfast on the morning of September 11th, 2001, I’m sure…
The Simpsons cartoon has multiple episodes that show the towers on fire and/or elude to the date of 9/11 in various images. Google has become good at telling you that they can easily be explained away. I’ll let you judge for yourself.
In The Matrix from 1999, Neo’s passport expiration date is 9/11/2001. Likewise in the Movie Independence Day from 1996 we get a close up shot of a timer that is exactly on 9:11. The film Fight Club also from ’99, the ending scene has two of the main characters stand and watch as buildings detonate and free fall until the last two standing collapse in stunningly close fashion to the twin towers.
I could go on but I hope you get the point. Anything that doesn’t get edited on the cutting room floor means it was put in the theatrical cut for a reason. Lots of buildings and 9s and 11s to just be a coincidence if you ask me. I think there’s a Newsweek magazine from the 60s that might possibly foreshadow the event as well. Who knows if there’s anything more distant. Like I said, the long game.
This present plannedemic is the second example. Many of you reading this might already be keenly aware. Social Media – or possibly just shills and handlers – were quick to point out some of the entertainment foreshadows for this. The most popular probably being the Dean Koontz book The Eyes of Darkness. The book portrayed a virus coming out of Wuhan, China and had other details that were eerily close to what has actually happened. The book was originally published in 1981.
Sylvia Browne, a supposed psychic, wrote a prediction in her 2008 book:
“In around 2020 a severe pneumonia-like illness will spread throughout the globe, attacking the lungs and the bronchial tubes and resisting all known treatments. Almost more baffling than the illness itself will be the fact that it will suddenly vanish as quickly as it arrived, attack again ten years later, and then disappear completely.”
Hmm. Maybe the virus will suddenly go away after the U.S. presidential election. Maybe. Just a thought. Probably nothing to see there.
There’s a 2005 episode of the TV Show The Dead Zone based on a Stephen King story that goes into quite a bit of detail that is hard to write off as merely coincidence. The episode predicts a virus that comes from China and is thought to have originated with an animal. Lockdowns for schools and businesses are discussed along with wearing masks. The virus is described as causing fever and respiratory problems. A phrase like, “it took the CDC 34 days to isolate the corona virus” is used and to top it off the malaria drug “chloroquine” is said to be the cure. All lucky guesses, I’m sure.
Basically the entire plot of the 2011 movie Contagion comes to mind as well. The words “novel virus” are used to describe the illness along with, again, closing schools and retail establishments. A doctor in the movie states that people can perhaps be contagious and not even know it as they could be asymptomatic for days.
Or consider these lyrics from the rapper “Dr. Creep” from 2013. The name of the song is called Pandemic off the album titled I Am The Storm:
The Virus is harvesting
What do you mean H7N3?
Begin life in a lab in the first war of vaccines
Million die in the first week in the pandemic dreams
Reality, black death, smallpox, mutated disease
Flu-shot propaganda for all population and troops
Avoid the plague, it might have seeped into the room
It’s now airborne with firestorm
Signal our doom
The dead returns with a pissed off zombie mood
The sprinkler system equipped with AuAg
Where they round up survivors? In a cold facility
Watch the process of terror from the hill near the stream
I remain in a gasmask
I still filter my water clean
This isn’t past tense or the plague of Athens
Couldn’t be eradicated like smallpox in action
Avian influenza in the jetstream is how it happens
2020 combined with Corona Virus, bodies stacking
Again, I could go on. Disney apparently dropped some hints in one of the Captain America movies and there’s been all sorts of other examples more recently. Lots of Corona brand type writers that movie stars and pop stars are using all of a sudden. I’m barely scratching the surface.
Maybe they’re all just cribbing from the Illuminati Card Game. That seems to have hit every beat. It was made in 1994.
In The Prestige, the anatomy of a magic trick is explained by the old ingenieur Cutter at the beginning, and it’s basically a verbatim quote from the novel that the movie is based on:
“Every great magic trick consists of three parts or acts. 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. 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. 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”.”
Like the film, they repeatedly show and tell us what they are about to do. And likewise they use the left hand and the right to create misdirection and foment division. And while our eyes are on the red ball bouncing across the stage or the electricity arcing from the coil, they are busy conducting the most heinous and hideous acts and plotting their next moves. Like the old magician with the fish bowl, they are committed to their craft. They are willing to sacrifice whatever it takes to simultaneously hold up the illusion and commit the crime.
But the real irony is that we want to be fooled. We don’t really want to know the horrible, unbelievably evil acts that are being committed in dark rooms every single day. We don’t want to know about the dismembering of pre-born children or the trafficking and rape of infants and toddlers. By all means saw the pretty lady in half just so long as we rest our heads to the pillow at night believing she got put back together. No need to talk about the consuming of human flesh. Of blood and adrenochrome. Don’t be foolish that’s the stuff of horror movies – don’t jump genres. Look away, there are no dead clones under the stage.
They tell us what they’re going to do. We laugh and applaud. They carry out the deed with our tacit permission. The Pledge. The Turn. The Prestige.
Did you know Abracadabra, the supposedly silly nonsense word that stage magicians were said to shout comes from the Aramaic “avra kadavra” or “it will be created in my words”? The Aramaic, when traced back to the original Hebrew comes from the roots “ab” for father, “ben” for son and “ruach hakodesh” for holy spirit.
It’s also quite possible the phrase hindsight is 2020 has more meaning than we ever possibly realized.