Throughout the movie the two rival magicians perform a number of magic trick performances and during each performance both Borden and Angier call for the audience soon after the pledge to come up on the stage and verify that the setup looks genuine. Both the magicians have found the other among the audience a number of times. Still every time when they call for the audience, wouldn't they be aware or worried that the other magician may turn up and cause their trick to fail? If i were Angier and would call for the audience testing then the first thing i would like to do is quickly scan the room to check if Borden is around and if i would find him would get more aware of my magic trick so it wouldn't fail. Please throw some light on this...


  • 1st - Borden's bullet catch, he calls for a volunteer and Angier appears
  • 2nd - Angiers canary disappearance during which Borden appears and skews up the trick
  • 3rd - Angier's Transported Man where Borden himself reappears instead of Angier's look-alike
  • 4th - Angier's final Transported Man trick where Borden comes up on stage to inspect the machine

Considering they both are rival magicians, it's quite obvious that they attend each others' performances in a disguise either to learn a new trick or to mess up an old trick.

To summarize, whilst performing a magic trick wouldn't either magician be insecure or aware of the other magician's presence during their performance?

1 Answer 1


Borden and Angier are rivals. They are trying to one up eachother.

However, by revealing how a trick works, both magicians incur a loss. The crowd's suspension of disbelief is the most important factor in a magic show.

Let's say Angier does call Borden out on one of his tricks. "There's a mirror in the box!". Borden's trick (and show) fails. People discuss this happening. As a result, everyone in the city knows how the trick is done.

No magician can ever do this trick again. Even if Angier comes up with a new trick that only tangentially uses a mirror to hide something from sight, it's possible that the crowd will understand how the trick works.
Once the crowd understands the trick (or that it is a trick), the magic show has failed.

Also, if Angier slanders Borden for being nothing but a fraud (becasue his trick isn't real), then Borden can immediately respond by calling Angier a fraud. Both men have lost; and the general perception of magicians has been lowered too (so it impacts all nearby magicians by default).

The only way to win by calling out a fellow magician would be a dramatic case of pyrrhic victory.

  • Just FYI, in the book they actually do attend each other's performances and shout things like "There's a mirror etc". :) As regards to the original question, the reason they interfere is 1) Angier wants Borden to reveal which knot he tied, 2) Borden's revenge for #1, 3) Borden wanting to one-up Angier (since the press speaks favorably of his better performed transported man) and advertise his show across the street, 4) Borden wants to learn the secret,
    – Morty
    Commented Jul 16, 2021 at 22:00

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