The Prestige and The Magic

The Sunday Telegraph, today, carries an interview with me by Sam Leith. (The Telegraph website has a paywall.) The matter under discussion: the films of Christopher Nolan, a topical subject as his new blockbuster Tenet is currently busy saving the film industry. Mr Leith had read my book on the subject, The Magic, so we tended to follow the arguments expressed there.

The Prestige (Gollancz)My novel The Prestige, was filmed by Christopher Nolan in 2006 and rated by many critics to be his best film (a view I share). The book is still in print and available in paperback from all bookstores.

A few years after the film appeared I wrote and published The Magic, in effect a response to the many friendly enquiries I received on an almost daily basis from readers and filmgoers: what did I really think of the film?, what went on behind the scenes?, how does the film compare with the novel?, and so on.

The MagicAlthough characterized in some quarters as me ‘slamming’ Mr Nolan (which no doubt will be said again after the interview has been read), the book is in fact an appreciative and nuanced study of how a serious and complex feature film is conceived and made by a young film maker at his peak.

I had absolutely nothing to do with the development and production of the film, but for obvious reasons every moment of the finished product was of interest and fascination to me. Naturally, I spelled out a few small reservations about the film (nothing’s perfect), and made a few disappointed comments about the way Mr Nolan’s talent appeared to be in the process of being squandered on lesser projects – an obsession with simplistic comic superheroes, for instance.

This is where the ‘slamming’ comes in, I suppose. But in reality I have always supported and endorsed the film, making personal introductions at festival screenings, for example. Christopher Nolan is clearly a talented and skilful film-maker, which is not in question, but he has not followed through with the uniquely imaginative approach shown in his early work. Many films start looking a bit dated quite soon after release, but Nolan’s film of The Prestige has a timeless quality, and is already showing encouraging signs of becoming a genuine classic of cinema.

The Magic is still in print and available directly from me, in both the first edition hardcover (£16.99) and a paperback (£10.99). More details about how to order can be found on this page.