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In The Prestige, Angier & Cutter take Fallon prisoner and bury him in a coffin, as hostage for Borden's secret. Borden comes and hands over the key to the diary, then digs out Fallon. Which one of them is it?

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    I find your question a little confusing. You're asking which of the two Bordens was in the coffin? But...how would you distinguish them from each other? I'm not entirely sure what answer you expect other than that one of the two Bordens was in the coffin, which judging by your last sentence you already know.
    – Napoleon Wilson
    Feb 23 '19 at 2:45
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    There is no way, their only defining difference was the lovers and how / why you would be able to track which one the identical characters happened to end up buried.... :-/ Feb 23 '19 at 7:30
  • Yes, that's my question. Is it the smart one (who loves Olivia), or the nice one (who loves Sarah)?
    – JimZipCode
    Mar 5 '19 at 15:30
  • I would need to rewatch to see if what this person is suggesting lines up, but this forum post does try to differentiate the two and does discuss whom they think is in coffin: nolanfans.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=13&t=4623 Jul 3 '19 at 0:15
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    @DarthLocke interesting discussion but the argument looks like bs, the user claims that one of the twins was useless. That's not what we get from the movie, they were equally performer and ingenieur, taking turns at everything.
    – Luciano
    Jul 4 '19 at 10:58
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There is no way to know, it was never shown in the movie and there are no clues to help with that.

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    I agree. The premise is that the Borden twins are indistinguishable from one another. They don't have distinct identities, each twin is 50% Borden and 50% Fallon. The one thing different between them is who they love, and that's not part of the scene in question so it can't be used for identification.
    – Flater
    Jul 4 '19 at 9:04
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    @Flater That's just not true. The twin who loved Olivia is brasher, more pugnacious. The twin who loved Sarah is warmer, softer. Sarah could tell them apart, and she didn't even know the secret.
    – JimZipCode
    Dec 11 '19 at 20:33
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    @JimZipCode perhaps, but none of that is shown to the viewer in a way that helps distinguishing who was in the coffin.
    – Luciano
    Dec 12 '19 at 9:37
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    @JimZipCode: The twins may have had their own underlying character, but they did their best to streamline it. This is exactly why the other twin spends his life pretending to love Sarah. Therefore, any argument you make about "well this twin acted quite brash" could either be genuine brashness or the other twin emulating his brother (just as his brother emulates him).
    – Flater
    Jan 3 at 1:03
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I had the same question. I'm not 100% sure, but I remember watching the movie and thinking that the angry twin was Borden when Fallon got put into the coffin but then afterwards at the dinner it seems like the angry twin is extra angry because he just got out of the coffin. I might have missed something but it seemed like a mistake maybe. I think i can tell the twins apart pretty accurately, Bale's performances are great and different for alfie and freddy.

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    Neither twin has a monopoly on an emotion. There's no reason to believe only one twin could be angry. The twins may have had their own underlying character, but they did their best to streamline it. This is exactly why the other twin spends his life pretending to love Sarah. Therefore, any argument you make about "well this twin acted quite brash" could either be genuine brashness or the other twin emulating his brother (just as his brother emulates him).
    – Flater
    Jan 3 at 1:04
  • Agreed, Spamela. On re-watches, Bale seems quite blatant in differentiating the two. I think it's a great strength of his performance in the movie. Freddie is clearly the one at dinner after the exhumation – Sarah gets in a fight with him. I'm thinking they didn't have time to switch after the rescue, so that implies Alfred is the one in the ground.
    – JimZipCode
    Mar 30 at 19:48
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I watched the sequence a few times, and there are multiple signs that the rash twin (who loves Olivia and ends up being executed) is Borden in that scene, and Fallon who ends up in the coffin is the calmer twin (who loves Sarah and survives in the end). Here it goes:

  • During their performance that night, Borden kisses Olivia on her hand and looks at her in a way that suggests he is the twin that loves her.
  • When Borden and Fallon leave the theater after the performance, Borden says: "I'm walking tonight. Let him come. I don't care." When he walks away, Fallon checks his gun. This scene clearly depicts Borden as boastful and careless while Fallon is shown as being cautious.
  • In a later scene in a restaurant Borden is the rash twin (he is called Freddy by Olivia and then gets angry at Sarah). In this scene says: "I had a terrible ordeal today. I thought that something very precious had been lost to me." This sentence makes sense if he was Borden earlier and thought that he had lost Fallon, but wouldn't really make sense the other way.

In my opinion it's pretty conclusive. There is a small hint to the opposite in the restaurant scene when Borden jokingly describes an idea of a new trick: "I am going to bury myself alive every night, and then someone will come along and dig me up." This sounds like he was the one who got buried, but it doesn't actually prove anything because since he is now "Borden" he would be saying this in first person in either case.

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  • Your 3rd bullet doesn't hold: you're saying that one of the brothers didn't care so much about the other??
    – Luciano
    Jul 28 at 8:30
  • @Luciano That's not what I'm saying. I'm saying that the sentence "I thought that something very precious had been lost to me" wouldn't really make sense if said by the twin who got buried, since he himself was that precious thing. Jul 28 at 9:08

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