At the beginning of The Prestige, Cutter tells the court that he caught Borden backstage watching Angier drown. But at the end of the movie, it's clear that Borden was desperately trying to smash the glass to get Angier out, and in fact Cutter stops him from delivering further blows to the glass.

Is this just a simple case of faulty eyewitness testimony? I can think of no other reasonable explanation for Cutter to say that Borden watched Angier drown.

  • 2
    By "faulty eyewitness testimony", do you mean "deliberately lying"? Because while I'm not familiar with this movie, it certainly sounds like Cutter is lying, with the intent of falsely incriminating Borden.
    – F1Krazy
    Commented Jun 24, 2020 at 9:41
  • I suppose so. It does seem really unlikely, though. Just thought I'd ask. About halfway through the movie, I realized that I totally forgot the reason that Borden was even convicted. And then at the end when I saw Borden smashing the glass, I was even more confused about his conviction. I had to watch from the beginning again, to see that Cutter said that Borden just watched Angier drown.
    – Kevin
    Commented Jun 24, 2020 at 22:58
  • My memory is a bit foggy on the movie. But why are you ruling out that Cutter actually saw "Borden" backstage not acting to save Angier. But in fact he did not see Border, but Fallon, who was bound to inactivity to not give up on his magic trick.
    – BestGuess
    Commented Sep 29, 2020 at 11:32

2 Answers 2


Cutter told what he thought he saw. He thought Borden did something to harm Angier on purpose, perhaps to get revenge on him. The movie doesn't present Cutter as someone with ulterior motives, but someone that knew about the magician's insane rivalry.

It's possible that he thought Borden was trying to sabotage Angier's trick once again, which could explain why he stopped Borden from breaking the glass.

There was no point in incriminating Borden as you can see at the end

He actually helps Borden / Fallon get their daughter back

once he learns Angier was the one trying to frame Borden just to get back at him.

Are you paying close attention? Don't forget this whole movie is about deception and misdirection...

  • Yep I figured as much but was wondering whether there were any alternative explanations.
    – Kevin
    Commented Jun 24, 2020 at 22:51

The scene in question only lasts a few seconds, so we don't really know what Cutter saw as he ran up. These two have been deadly rivals for years, he knows they're both capable of anything. Angier engineered the situation to make Borden look guilty, and Cutter made the assumption he was meant to. He could even have thought that Borden started hitting the glass only after he was sure Angier would die, to make it look like he was trying to save him.

The film is meant to be a bit ambiguous, but I don't see any reason not to take Cutter's words at face value -- he's telling the court what he thinks he saw.

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