Just like that

"We've been trying to make this for five years," says Christopher Nolan, chatting exclusively to Total Film about his first project post-Batman Begins. "And it looks like we're going to start in January."

The Prestige is an adaptation of Christopher Priest's eerie novel of magic and murder set in 1878 London. Scripted by Nolan and his brother Jonathan, it's an intricate head-spinner bound to shock. "It's a real puzzle box of a movie so it's taken Jonah [as he's nicknamed] quite a long time," says Nolan, who passed first-draft duties to his brother when other projects took over his time.

Christian Bale and Hugh Jackman have inked to co-star as the film's feuding magicians, whose rivalry escalates to bloodshed. "It's a period piece but we're making it gritty and contemporary," says Nolan. "It's a mystery thriller which verges on horror at times. It's about magic and it attempts to represent what it is to watch magic. It's never been done before..." He trails off. "It defies categorisation. Which is great fun at the 'making it' stage; probably not so much fun at the 'selling it' stage." He grins. "But hopefully that won't be my problem!"