Movie Review: The Current War: Directors Cut

The people who lived in the dark days of 1880 did not even have light or electricity and it is hard to imagine a world like this, 140 years ago. Human kind has advanced so far in 140 years that anyone who lived in those times could never have imagined what has happened in a relatively short a period of human history. Someone had to invent generators, electricity and the light bulb and essentially the 3 inventors responsible for the inventions that changed the world were Thomas Edison, George Westinghouse and Nikola Tesla.

The movie “The Current War” is not only about these amazing inventions, but also about the ruthless political and personal war between Edison, Westinghouse and Tesla over the use of AC (Alternating Current) and DC (Direct Current). Edison was the inventor of Direct Current and Tesla invented Alternating Current and eventually collaborated with Westinghouse to compete against Edison to light different cities over a 12 year period. The conflicts and “current war” between these 3 men went on until 1892 when AC eventually won the war. All of the conflicts could have been avoided if these 3 men forgot about their ego’s in favor of what was best for the world based on the cost of providing power and light. AC was always considered cheaper but much more dangerous than DC.

Unfortunately, Edison spent much of his time during this current war by trying to discredit AC, telling the press it would kill many people and even at one time held a demonstration to the press, where he electrocuted a horse; just to prove the dangers of AC. This movie does not paint a positive picture of Thomas Edison and how he handled himself during this stressful period. Eventually AC was used to electrocute a man on death row and unfortunately the first time this was used, it did not work effectively and the poor man had to be electrocuted several times until he died.

The problem with this film, pointed out by a number of critics is how erratically the story was told, bouncing between different scenes too quickly and not explaining enough about what was going on within each part of the story. This film is a very good account of an important time in history, but the story telling could have been done much more cleanly and efficiently. For this reason, I agree with this part of the criticism of this movie. It is also rather suspect that this movie was produced in 2017 and has not been released until October 2019, the implication here is that much work was put into re-cutting this movie long after shooting was completed.

I recommend this movie for its excellent account of an important time in history, but I do agree with the critics about the erratic story telling and give The Current War a mild recommendation.

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