Lately I’ve been going back and rewatching some of my favorite movies, especially ones that I have not seen in a long time. Last week, I rewatched The Prestige.
The Prestige, which starred Hugh Jackman, Christian Bale and Scarlett Johannson and directed by Christopher Nolan, tells the story of two magicians/illusionists and the rivalry that developed which turned very personal. Both Robert Angier (Jackman) and Alfred Borden (Bale) wanted to be the best and would stop at nothing to do just that. In the end, the price that they both paid not only cost them but those around them.
There’s a lot one can unpack from a Christopher Nolan film. One could rewatch his films numerous times and pick up different things. This time when I was watching the film there were two things that stood out and I tweeted about them while I was watching the film. The first was this: “If there is a word that is an underlying theme in this film it is hubris.” The other thing was this: “And how forgiveness could’ve kept things from escalating as it did.”
Both men had a huge amount of pride. They wanted to be the greatest magician/illusionist in the world. And both of them felt they were better and smarter than the other. This hubris blinded them to the damage they caused. Borden made a mistake which led to the death of Angier’s wife. Instead of being sorry or asking for forgiveness, Borden went on to become a solo act. Instead of Angier not pursing revenge, he hijacked a performance and shot Borden which cost him two fingers. And on and on until there was irreparable damage done to not just the two men but their wives, friends, colleagues and everyone around them.
Granted if one had shown grace and mercy to the other it would’ve been a very short film. But the truth remains. Their anger and thirst for revenge drove both men in ways that made the situation worse. On the flip side, forgiveness was right there and could’ve stopped a lot of heartache for both men.
Forgiveness is such a beautiful thing but it also can be one of the hardest things to do. It is so easy to hold onto hurts, to hold onto wrongs done. But God calls us to forgive. We are called to forgive because He has forgiven us. He forgave us with great cost to Him with His son Jesus dying on the cross for our sins. He chooses to forgive us even though we wrong Him with our sins. That is the beauty of forgiveness, that restoring of relationship.
Angier and Borden could not forgive one another. Each man wanted to prove he was better than the other. In the end, they proved that their actions kept them from being the best that they could’ve been as well as hurting their relationships with those around them. May we be people that forgive. It may come as a great cost but the rewards are much greater.