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In The Prestige, the secret to Angier's 'disappearing man' trick is that he is effectively cloned while teleporting, and the original Angier is drowned when disappearing under the stage.

When Alfred Borden went behind the stage to investigate the trick and find out Angier's secret (and discovering Angier dying in the water tank), he was accused of murdering Angier.

But what happened to the transported 'clone' of Angier? If he presented himself as was normal for the trick, no one would've thought Angier died. So how did the 'clone' know to not appear?

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Good question. Maybe he recognized Borden between the people examining the apparatus and/or saw him walk behind the stage. Since I think he actually planned those shows for this "murder" to happen one day, he should have been prepared for Borden to appear some day. Don't remember the scene exactly, though. –  Napoleon Wilson Aug 8 '12 at 23:25
    
@ChristianRau I really like the theory that Angier prepared for such a situation. Their visual exchange when he was in the water tank supports it. It does change the balance of power between Borden and Angier in the film, though. Very interesting... –  stevvve Aug 9 '12 at 0:54
    
@ChristianRau that's exactly my interpretation, too. Angier wanted revenge and planned for this murderous plot, to get Borden killed. –  oers Aug 9 '12 at 7:00
    
@ChristianRau I have reservations about the existing answers, but yours makes sense to me. If you can parse it out a bit, I'd consider that an acceptable answer! –  stevvve Aug 13 '12 at 18:00
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@stevvve "It does change the balance of power between Borden and Angier in the film, though." - Isn't this change one of the many fascinating aspects of the story? All the time you think Borden has finally gone too far in their personal fight, yet it was Angier who was sunken into his wrath and turned a battle of wits into a battle for life by finally making his hands dirty. –  Napoleon Wilson Dec 25 '13 at 16:54

6 Answers 6

up vote 9 down vote accepted

I guess he just recognized Borden from the people examining the apparatus while he stood in it and assumed that he will probably walk behind the stage (or maybe even saw him do that).

The fact is, that Angier was at that point in time so much sunken in his wrath against Borden and the desire to know how his Trasported Man worked, that he didn't just do those Real Transported Man shows to make a good show and beat Borden success-wise. He actually planned this "murder" to happen some day to finally "win" against Borden, since he knew he would show up one day to look behind the stage and nobody would doubt that he murdered his enemy. But even if at first Angier looked like the one that always got framed and played wrong by Borden (and finally murdered, as is shown at the beginning of the movie) it was actually always Angier who took this fight from a job-related competition to a higher level, involving kidnapping and finally murder.

So he was prepared for Borden to show up some day and just needed to look out for him, the rest was already planned out perfectly.

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I rewatched this last night so I could write an answer but I cannot improve on this. It seems to me to be perfectly clear that it was completely planned as a trap for Borden. –  iandotkelly Aug 23 '12 at 1:44

See on this my opinion is that ANgier did this whole setup - 100 shows of 'The Real Transported Man' to trap Bordon. He knew that one day Bordon will come up the stage disguised in some form and he will go below the stage to see what's happening. This is also evident from one scene when Bordon goes home after he first sees Angier's trick. He says it there "What's happening beow that stage". So when finally that moment arrived - when Angier is performing the trick and someone from the audience is called up on stage Angier identifies Bordon and the he knew that now is the time, not to appear, because this will leave Brodon with the dead body in the basement. –

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so when he gets cloned they have something of a shared vision sort of thing. is that what you're implying? –  Dredd Aug 9 '12 at 16:24
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@Morpheus No, he's just saying what we all know and what doesn't really help answer the question, that the clone is an exact copy of Angier, with all his memories. But this is not debatable, of course the clone was not a dumb copy, it was an exact copy, how else could Angier last. But it doesn't answer the actual question of how Angier (no matter which version as both are the same) knew not to appear but to hide at the prestige. –  Napoleon Wilson Aug 9 '12 at 21:25
    
@ChristianRau correct. hopefully someone comes up with a better explanation. i need to watch the movie again as well. –  Dredd Aug 9 '12 at 22:08
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See on this my opinion is that ANgier did this whole setup - 100 shows of 'The Real Transported Man' to trap Bordon. He knew that one day Bordon will come up the stage disguised in some form and he will go below the stage to see what's happening. So when finally that moment arrived - when Angier is performing the trick and someone from the audience is called up on stage Angier identifies Bordon and the he knew that now is the time, not to appear, because this will leave Brodon with the dead body in the basement. –  Ankit Aug 10 '12 at 9:10
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@Ankit That's also what I would have thought. And it also makes a much better answer than the one you already have (which doesn't really contain any useful information). Why not add this comment to your answer, I might even promise a +1 for that ;) –  Napoleon Wilson Aug 13 '12 at 12:47

I don't think there was enough time to get the message across before the prestige that Borden had just shown up. Instead, my theory is that Angier faked using a double as part of his act along with faking his own death. This way, it explained a dead Angier and a living look-a-like.

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I don't completely understand your answer, could you please elaborate further? What do you mean with "get the message across"? But you know Angier has always cloned himself with the machine and thus was his own double/copy (it somehow seems you don't, but this may be just me not getting your answer)? –  Napoleon Wilson Aug 13 '12 at 12:52
    
No, I don't understand your answer either. At the start of each show the currently alive copy of Angier watches whilst the audience examines the machine. He could see Borden come up to the stage. Either he sees Borden escape backstage or assumes that Borden will do something. When he is cloned during the act - he chooses to not appear on the balcony, but slips away. Michael Caine's character then investigate, finding Borden and the drowning Angier. –  iandotkelly Aug 23 '12 at 13:24

I thought the clone just stayed hidden and observed the audience for a few second, to see their reactions. (There was always a pause between the disappearance and the reappearance) Since when Borden found his dead body, he started shouting, which everyone in the audience heard. So the clone just waited and heard if Borden was shouting. If yes, he now knows that he found his dead body. If everyone just looks amazed and no sound of Borden, the clone will appear and repeat the same process next time. I think that's why he arranged 100 performance because he doesn't know when Borden will show up. (Sorry my English isn't perfect. Please bear with me)

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Your answer is sound (and your english is well). My only disagreement is I don't think he was waiting for Borden every time he pulled the trick, only when he caught wind of Borden spying in the audience. –  TylerShads Oct 31 '12 at 12:18

It's not clearly shown in the movie whether Angier saw Borden moving to or behind the stage as there was no eye contact shown. One can only assume that Angier knew some how that Borden will go back stage, the cloned Angier didn't show up to place the blame on Borden. I believe this is a way in which the writer/director keeps the audience occupied in the movie. Similar questions arise in the movie named "Shutter Island" in which the movie ends with the saying "this place makes me wonder whether it's better to live as a monster or die as a good man"

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So here is my grand theory (if I understood the question correctly):-

Angier was Lord Coldlow from the very beginning. He just pretended to be the American Robert Angier, to spare his family the embarrassment of his theatrical career. So existence of Lord Caldlow is clear.


Later on the day of the accident, Angier called spectators to check the machine. Borden came and examined. Given the fact, they knew each other the best, we can assume Angier caught him right then when Borden was on stage to check the machine.


So when Angier understood the right time has come, the time he has longed for a long time, he did not turn the machine on simply i.e. no extra copy of him was made on that day! But he tried to befool the viewers by the sparks of the machine and all that, but it was not really working like other days. So the existence of Angier remained as Lord Caldlow (whom no one identified as him) and Angier could make Borden his murderer by killing a copy of himself, the then present person in the centre. Simple yet a compact plan!

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Though I don't remember this myself, Wikipedia says "He recognises Angier, who admits he has always been Lord Caldlow, but pretended to be the American Robert Angier, to spare his family the embarrassment of his theatrical career." So it didn't take much time or effort to establish the role of Lord Caldlow, as that has always existed. He didn't have that much time either. So I don't think the machine didn't work that day, he just didn't reappear. –  Napoleon Wilson Jan 23 '13 at 8:46
    
@ChristianRau, Thanks for the correction. But I am not convinced that the machine worked necessarily that day. What I am trying to say is Angier intentionally did not make the machine work when he saw Borden on-stage believing he would surely visit. He made it look like the machine worked, but in reality it didn't and so no clone was made that day. –  Mistu4u Jan 23 '13 at 13:02
    
by killing the present in the centre copy of himself I'm not sure I understood that part correctly. Do you mean that Angier made a copy of himself and somehow persuaded him(copy) to commit a suicide? –  default locale May 17 '13 at 11:30
    
@defaultlocale, You got it correct. He used a copy of himself that day and fled away! –  Mistu4u May 17 '13 at 12:16
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@Mistu4u Now that's clearer, thanks. But I thought that copy was as well an individual, not willing to die (taking into account that on each of Angier's performances original Angier died and copy left alive) –  default locale May 17 '13 at 18:59

protected by Mistu4u Jan 31 '13 at 5:07

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