Wardenclyffe Tower

The location of one of Tesla's most famous laboratories,  where the inventor planned to develop the ability to wirelessly transmit electricity, telegraph signals, and images using a large metal tower. This location is likely an inspiration for Tesla's workshop as seen in The Prestige


Latitude: 40.946743400000
Longitude: -72.898228400000

Timeline of Events Associated with Wardenclyffe Tower

Date Event Manage
20 Oct 2006

Christopher Nolan, Dir., The Prestige

SUMMARY (Note: Spoilers)

This 2006 film, based on a 1995 World Fantasy Award-winning novel of the same name by Christopher Priest, follows an escalating showmanship arms race between two magicians, Angier and Borden. Their obsession with outdoing each other and sabotaging the other leads to Angier’s wife drowning in a water tank, Borden having two of his fingers shot off, and the maiming of one of Angier’s audience members. The competition reaches its peak over a trick called the transported man, first successfully performed by Borden. In the trick, a magician disappears from the stage, only to immediately reappear somewhere else in the theater. Angier becomes obsessed with replicating the trick, and seeks the help of Nikola Tesla, who builds Angier a machine capable of replicating animate objects, though he advises Angier to destroy his creation. Angier then begins performing a new version of the transported man using Tesla’s machine in which he creates a clone of himself and drowns the original in a tank of water under the stage.  At one performance Borden, curious to discover the secret of the trick, goes backstage and finds one of the Angiers drowning. Borden is framed for Angier’s death, and is hanged. Later, Angier is shot by a man who looks exactly like Borden – Borden was actually one of two twins who lived separate lives in order to successfully perform the transported man.



Science and Class Warfare

The two magicians, Angier and Borden, come from drastically different socioeconomic backgrounds. Borden rises from poverty – he is hard working, dedicated to his craft, and builds a following by performing in small clubs and other venues. Angier, on the other hand, dresses impeccably and possesses the means to invest in extravagant, showy tricks which he often performs in ornate theaters. Angier is, in fact, ultimately revealed to be Lord Cadlow, an aristocrat who uses his social clout to manipulate the imprisoned Borden to surrender his catalogue of tricks in exchange for promising to provide for Borden’s daughter. What Borden is able to accomplish through personal ingenuity and hard work, Angier instead attains by using his incredible resources (i.e. paying Nikola Tesla to create a replicating machine for him). Angier uses his tremendous wealth to attempt to crush an ingenious, poorer rival. However, ultimately, this use of resources seems rather foolish in light of the fact that Borden was able to accomplish the transported man trick simply using his twin. This could indicate that some of mankind’s most elaborately constructed creations may ultimately be follies which lead to the destruction of their creator and the consumption of simpler, more obvious, more natural solutions.


Value of Life

Near the beginning of the film, Borden performs a bird cage trick in which a small bird is placed in a cage which is then covered by a cloth. The cage is collapsed and retracted into Borden’s sleeves, making the bird vanish. Borden then produces an unharmed bird, to the amazement of the audience. However, one small boy is deeply upset by the trick. When Borden shows him the live bird, the boy asks “but what about his brother?” This scene serves as a perfect microcosm for the moral dilemmas arising from Angier’s use of clones. If the audience doesn’t know the death they applaud, are they nonetheless complicit in the taking of a life? Does Angier have the right to choose death for identical copies of himself since he would be wholly sympathetic with their desires and ambitions? Angier himself expressed trepidation as he never knew if he would be the copy drowned in the tank or the one who emerged triumphantly in the back of the theater. However, regardless of which version of Angier survives, he continues to make the same decision: to perform the trick, even at the cost of filling a basement with drowned copies of himself. Do his uncertainties make his decision irresponsible or immoral? Or is it fair because he accepts an equal amount of risk, and the other party involved is also, essentially, him? Nolan doesn't directly answer these questions, instead leaving the audience to attempt to sort through what they've found behind the curtain.

-Austin Channell