I am dazzled by magic as well as how aesthetically pleasing The Prestige is. The secret of its aesthetics is the Golden Section, which was used throughout the whole movie. The Golden Section helps you focus on one character, while seeing all of the action and detail of the scene.
The Prestige relies on this clean layout so the viewer can see, literally, the magic happen before their eyes. The fast-paced nature of the film, along with the amount of detail in each scene, forces the viewer to pay attention to everything.
A few examples of the Golden Section in The Prestige:
The Golden Section is a classical way of creating dynamic balance by dividing the screen into 3 by 5 units. As you can see in the pictures above, the character is placed on one side and is balanced by something less important. This increases dynamic energy and pictorial tension by overloading one side of the frame with the main character. The viewer perceives this shot as high energy, and it is more intriguing than seeing the character in the center of the frame.
The opening line of this movie is, “Are you watching closely?” So, right from the beginning, you are told to pay attention, and you expect this golden section to continue throughout the whole movie. You need it to continue throughout the whole movie, or the fast paced nature of the film would confuse you.