Having watched it again last night, I’ve decided that The Prestige is a very good movie.
Beginning in turn-of-the-century London, it tells of two young magicians who set out to carve their own paths to fame. Angier (Hugh Jackman) is a consummate entertainer, while the rough-edged Borden (Christian Bale with a truly horrible accent) is a magical genius without the pizazz to showcase his artistry. They start out as friends but following a tragedy become sworn enemies, each intent on outdoing the other. Trick by trick, show by show, their competitive lust even takes them to Colorado, where they co-opt the fantastical new powers of electricity and scientific brilliance of inventor Nikola Tesla…..
And here I divert to the point of my irritable missive today. Unlike my previous entry, there’s kudos due to Christopher Nolan since he did in fact shoot The Prestige in Colorado for a couple of day – on the Georgetown Railway loop (amongst other places.) I assume he did this for authenticity, since most movies with Colorado settings generally end up being shot in Canada. I can rattle off several: As Good as it Gets, Alien v. Predator II, Blades of Glory, Catch and Release, the entire series of Stargate SG1 to name but a few.
The underfunded Colorado Film Commission tries year in, year out, to get the State legislature to see the benefit of supporting the film industry but with very little luck. Meanwhile, Colorado stories, Colorado wealth, Colorado opportunities continue to be exploited elsewhere. (You’ve just got to look south of the State border to New Mexico, to see what’s possible with informed political support for Film)
What’s more, without significant State support, there’s not even much attempt to make money out of the tourism potential of film. How about a game of Alien v. Predator paintball in the mountains anyone? Or a Catch and Release fishing trip to the streams outside of Boulder? Blades of Glory ice skating?
As for the Prestige, did you know that the genius Nicola Testa really did perform his ground-breaking electric experiments in the Springs?
The Tesla lab
As far as I can tell though, there was little attempt made to capitalise on movie tourism – or even from existing Tesla fanatics. As Malcolm Howard says in an August 2000 story in the Colorado Springs Independent
“If nothing else, it would be pretty darn cool to be able, once again, to go somewhere and pay $5 for the chance to see a massive Tesla coil shoot 10-foot-long sparks across a darkened room. “