Are you watching closely?

are you watching closely christian bale the prestige

I call myself a Nolan fan, mostly of his earlier works (to be clear, I fully comprehend what went down in Interstellar and Tenet. wink, wink). The Prestige happens to be my favorite Christopher Nolan movie of all time. I must have seen it more than five times. And given how obsessed I am with it, that number will not be static.

So why the sudden rant about The Prestige?

There are many things I love about the movie, the passionate characters dedicated to their craft and their willingness to go to any levels necessary, the not-so-friendly competition between the magicians, the beautiful women that don’t shy away from holding a mirror to their men, the visionaries, the acolytes – you name it. 

But something from the movie that trumps them all in my little universe is the question, “Are you watching closely?”

Alfred Borden (played by Christian Bale) during the famous scene in The Prestige

Borden would say that multiple times in the movie, enthralling the audience with his majestic magic tricks. The guy is cheeky enough to challenge his crowd into watching him closely, daring them to expose the flaw in his tricks.

He would not shy away from putting his happiness and even his life on the line for the love of the craft that he held so dear. 

Why does the fear of being exposed not threaten him? What infuses in him the bravery of the daredevil? Is it mastery of the craft? Is the attraction of the spotlight much too intriguing?

I have never found an answer that I could find satisfying enough for more than two days. 

Are you watching closely?

Like in the movie, this question works on so many levels.

Say I was watching closely, closely enough to have been able to find a flaw in his tricks? Where would that have got me? 

Maybe on that path of obsession to be looking for flaws in every magic trick from there on? And why just magic? Maybe that spilled over to every other area of my life? 

What if I watched every ‘good relationship’ closely enough to see the cracks in it? Maybe I started dissecting every argument I see being made so that I could see where all it had been patched to create the illusion of the truth? Perhaps I would even doubt the perfect relationship between a Mr. Fox and a Ms. Kelly from You’ve Got Mail

Mr. Fox and Ms. Kelly in You’ve Got Mail

After all, Mr. Fox only went back to see her on their blind date because she was pretty, did he not?

I wonder if watching everything closely would turn me into a disbeliever,a cynic? And do I want to be that?

I do want to see things for what they are. I do! But to what extent do I go? Where do I stop? At what point do I become a Hypocrite if I choose to close my eyes to the truth? And would happiness/contentment elude me if I do?

The real Richard Winters (left) and Damian Lewis, who plays the character of Richard Winters in Band of Brothers

I love Richard Winters from the Band of Brothers and Sean Connery in The Hunt for Red October (who doesn’t?), but I made it a point never to research them enough to get to a point where I could find a fly in that love ointment. I am not oblivious to the dangers of doing this. 

This logic (if you could even call it that) has a lot of flaws. I have researched enough about Ostrich burying their heads to make their problems disappear. Surprise, Surprise! That isn’t true either, but it is a Roman myth.

So if Alfred Borden were ever to ask me, “Are you watching closely?” he would have a question coming right back at him “Do I want to?”


2 thoughts on “Are you watching closely?

  1. Fun and thought-provoking post. In the extreme, we can never know what’s in someone’s mind. No matter how closely we watch, a certain amount of speculation is required to draw conclusions about other people’s actions. Even our own motivations can be a mystery to us.


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