How's this movie treat Edison? He was a mischievous hack in real life so I don't want to watch a jerkoff fest.
I've always been a Tesla fan myself, so I was dubious going into this film. Ended up loving it, one of my favorites of last year. My brief write up from a previous post:
Loved this film, one of my favorites of the year. As a fan of Nikola Tesla, I was disheartened by the negative reviews regarding his modest screen time in the film. And while there was much more to his involvement in the subject matter, I feel like he was used appropriately considering which aspects of the story the film decided to focus on. It wasn't a biopic of any of the characters or even their inventions; it was specifically a look at the battle to decide how electricity would be distributed in the US. Considering Tesla was never as concerned with the financial implications of electricity so much as its application, it makes sense to focus more on the men concerned with legacy, financial gain and perhaps fame.
It depicts Edison as an egomaniac whose priority was taking credit for inventions rather than concerning himself with their ultimate value to society. Edison was a man of his place and time whose industrial age taught him greed, ruthlessness and compensation were the ultimate goals of invention. Cornering the market was paramount, otherwise to him, what was the point? George Westinghouse is depicted as perhaps more altruistic than Edison but still a captain of industry who viewed electricity as more of a commodity than an element to be mastered. Tesla alone saw electricity as a tool to be harnessed for the benefit of all mankind. His was a life of invention for invention's sake, and the betterment of society.
For this reason, I think, the film downplays Tesla's role in the story and focuses on the cutthroat nature of the industry and the age. (Spoilers ahead if you don't know the history) Ultimately, Tesla is proven correct and he is shown to be an honest if eccentric man, while Westinghouse is honorable by nature but not afraid to get his hands dirty-- and Edison, though not a complete monster, is viewed as a well intentioned and certainly gifted mind, perhaps oblivious of his own capacity for darkness while chasing the light. Again, as a fan of Tesla, I thought it was a fair representation of all the major players and a balanced if not 100% accurate retelling of the story. It ends with a poignant reminder of how the world works; Though Tesla was proven correct, Edison is lauded as the greatest mind of his day and died a millionaire, having spent a lifetime with the industry elite. Meanwhile Tesla, an immigrant and an outsider from the beginning, died penniless and alone in a hotel room he couldn't pay for.
The Current War is a well crafted period drama featuring excellent costuming and set design, solid acting by an impressive cast, and a magnificent use of its score. The editing is a bit choppy in places and I'm not entirely sure why they decided to use name cards for the characters at the beginning of the film. (Though I did appreciate Tesla being introduced not as an inventor, entrepreneur or electrician, but rather as 'Nikola Tesla, Futurist.') I highly recommend this film, especially if you have an interest in the subject matter or even the time period.