The Current War (Movie 2019)

Current War4 Electrifying Kernels

You could be reading this blog post on your computer right now.  Do you know what runs your computer?  Is that AC or DC?  Huh, you say?  Well, let me clarify – AC = alternating current and DC = direct current.  Well, if you have no idea what type of current is coming into your house, you may want to tune into this movie about the men who brought you light.

The Current War is a fascinating movie, regardless if it’s not 100 percent historically accurate. Let’s get real here.  Are any historical Hollywood-made movies 100 percent accurate? I love period dramas, so I’m always off to Google afterward to find out the true story about what I just watched portrayed on the big screen.  By the way, you can thank Thomas Edison for inventing motion pictures.  If you decide to watch this flick, fly by the website History v. Hollywood for the true scoop afterward.

Regardless of the spot-on history, the movie is fascinating as it focuses on three innovators of the time – Thomas Edison (played by Benedict Cumberbatch, who by the way I give an A+ for ditching his English accent to sound like an American), George Westinghouse (played by Michael Shannon), and Nikola Tesla (played by Nicholas Hoult). These modern days we probably still equate Edison with the light bulb, Westinghouse with every appliance in your home, and Tesla with the slick, expensive cars you wish you could afford.

The timeline of the movie begins in 1880 and flashes through phases to 1893 when Westinghouse won the bid to light the Chicago World’s Fair.  It’s an interesting tit-for-tat race between two men – Edison and Westinghouse – to provide light to the masses. Edison is the DC man, while Westinghouse is the AC man.  They bid to be the providers of electricity for cities, while behind the scenes attempting to discredit each other at every turn. On the side, we have the young Nikola Tesla, first working for Edison and then eventually with Westinghouse. He’s another genius with ideas galore that are often stolen by others.

Edison is portrayed as a rather driven, eccentric. He goes to extremes to prove the dangers of AC current to humans, which I won’t mention here as it may keep you from the movie. (I see animal rights protestors here, not to mention the human rights protestors of the time.)  Westinghouse is a bit more subdued, but he has his own shifty way of making it to the top with his cheaper version of electricity.  Period costumes were spot on, as well as the sets depicting the time period. Acting acceptable for the characters they portrayed, although I do wonder if Edison was really that ruthless.

If you live in Dearborn, Michigan, a visit to Greenfield Village will get you a tour of Edison’s workshop.  As a child, I visited it often, not really knowing much about the man who invented the lightbulb.  The workshop was originally in Menlo Park, New Jersey, but was actually moved to Michigan and restored for people to visit.

I suggest you watch the movie.  Next time you flip the light switch, it may bring to mind the men who made is possible.  It may force you to run out and buy a Westinghouse appliance, or a Tesla self-driving car.  You know you want one.

 

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