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Rough Draft 3 - McMillan 1 Aubrey McMillan Nicole...

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McMillan 1 Aubrey McMillan Nicole Starosielski Film Studies 46; Nanette, W 4:00 5 September, 2008 The Thrills of War and Magic “He lives his act.” These four words, whispered by Robert Angier in the beginning of the film The Prestige , describe an old magician whose magical acts essentially come to define his entire existence. This sense of dyer dedication to a specific goal is also seen in the 1963 film The Great Escape . Both films captivate their audiences with the hope that each character will fulfill their respective aspirations while being met with extreme opposition. The Great Escape and The Prestige both qualify as thriller films due to the static general setting that transforms from a mundane atmosphere into a dangerous and surprising world; this creates a sense of vul- nerability for the characters involved, as well as an air of acute excitement for the audience. Genres allow films to be categorized according to their overall narrative construction and effect on the audience. As defined by David Bordwell and Kristin Thompson, genres are “vari- ous types of films that audiences and filmmakers recognize by their familiar narrative conven- tions” (479). Furthermore, a thriller is a broad genre of film that incorporates a sense of every- day life with some transforming or bizarre element which suffuses it with an ethos of suspense (Dirks 2008). The element of surprise then becomes a key facet of this genre. “Rather than re- lating to the goals of a character, surprise emerges when expectations are flouted” (Persson 204). In essence, surprise challenges the expectations of both the characters and audience. Thriller films, therefore, invoke a sense of extreme anticipation and uncertainty within the viewer, as the
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McMillan 2 main characters work to reach an extraordinary goal while meeting tremendous conflicting forces along the way. The thriller is a genre that may be combined with other genres, such as the horror film, or science fiction film, invoking a sense of “thrill” for any specific audience. Both The Great Es- cape and The Prestige are considered thriller films - the first a tactful cat-and-mouse chase dur- ing World War II, and the latter a more psychologically-oriented competition between magi- cians. Although incorporating very different plots, these films share similar iconography (or re-
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