I don't want people clicking on the first cut only to have their eyes wander downwards accidentally, so: swipe! >>The thing is, I'm still not sure I understand how the real machine worked--was a duplicate transported while you stood still, or was a duplicate produced and you were transported? And quite frankly, I don't think I want to understand. Much like the basic enigma of Picnic at Hanging Rock, the machine is that much more awful if you don't know--if, like Angier says, you don't know who's in the box and who's the prestige. Because I really do think that the duplicate was a literal duplicate, right down to memory and personality and consciousness; it was literally one person in two places at once. And while it's awful to think that Angier had to face that tank every night, knowing that he had to die and a duplicate would take over, I think it's more awful if he never knew which one he was, because his consciousness experienced both events in different bodies. It doesn't matter which one he was, because the man on the other end of the trick, Transported Angier, would never know which one he was--the "original" Angier who was always transported and survived, or a duplicate who would have to die the next night. And even if you believe that he always survived and that the duplicate was the one who was produced on the spot, that's still the Angier who shot Transported Angier the first time, so if Transported Angier is the original Angier, he was killed by Duplicate Angier the first time he practiced the trick ("No! I'm--"). I'm kind of the opinion that the duplicate was the one transported, and that Angier merely killed his first duplicate, and that "No!" was to indicate that their consciousnesses were identical. But then? It would be Original Angier who drowned in the tank and Duplicate Angier who survived, only to drown in the tank the next night. And so on. But again, I like the idea that the man who came out alive didn't know whether he'd been duplicated or merely transported--whether he was a constant survivor or doomed to die the next night, and that both happened simultaneously and continuously. Schrödinger's Magician, if you will. Probably the best thing about the movie is that it leaves you with all of this to chew on.<<
ETA: Question: What did Sarah think Alfred was? "I know what you really are!" Well, apparently she didn't really know or she at least would have understood why "he" was being so schizo--so what did she actually think he was? Did she say and I just missed it?
Warning: Given that people who have seen the movie will probably want to discuss it, there will probably be major spoilers in the comments. Don't go browsing unless you've already seen it. Trust me, you don't want to know the twist(s).