Film Review | The Current War

LIGHT BULB MOMENT: Thomas Edison (Benedict Cumberbatch) brought us the magic of cinema, among many other things.

LIGHT BULB MOMENT: Thomas Edison (Benedict Cumberbatch) brought us the magic of cinema, among many other things.

One of my favourite cinema moments has nothing to do with the movie I'm watching.

It is when the lights in the cinema dim imperceptibly, indicating the movie is about the start.

I sink into the seat and wait for the electric shadows to appear on the screen.

That serene feeling would not be possible without the inventive brilliance of Thomas Alva Edison. He gave us sound recording, motion picture cameras and the electric lightbulb.

George Westinghouse, on the other hand, pioneered access to electricity for everyone.

Thomas Edison and George Westinghouse are names synonymous with companies that produce washing machines, light bulbs, refrigerators, aircraft engines and street lighting.

Behind Westinghouse and General Electric were people whose visions drove their inventiveness and powered their ambitions.

And made our lives more comfortable.

The Current War is not a reference to the calamitous situation we in Australia and the entire world find ourselves today.

Current refers to the nature of electricity that powers our world and our lifestyles and the way it is delivered to our homes and businesses.

It's all about direct current and alternating current.

Inventor Edison (Benedict Cumberbatch) favours direct current; industrialist Westinghouse (Michael Shannon), along with futurist Nicola Tesla (Nicholas Hoult), advocates alternating current.

SWITCH CURRENTS: Thomas Edison (Benedict Cumberbatch) and George Westinghouse (Michael Shannon) battle for dominance in a tale about the era of enlightenment.

SWITCH CURRENTS: Thomas Edison (Benedict Cumberbatch) and George Westinghouse (Michael Shannon) battle for dominance in a tale about the era of enlightenment.

In the 1880s, the world was lit by gas lamps and other polluting sources of energy. The world was on the verge of switching from gaslights to electric lightbulbs.

Whose form of electric current will be adopted: Edison's DC or Westinghouse's AC?

Success means enormous wealth, acclaim and a legacy of inventive brilliance.

Edison is outwardly egotistical, willing to embark on a campaign to discredit Westinghouse by any means, and determined to triumph with his energy system.

Westinghouse is calmer, more measured and determined to fight on the grounds of technical superiority.

Intrigue, deception, financial backing from banker JP Morgan and support from their respective partners power the power play for dominance of the electrical grid.

Our generation's equivalent of Edison, Westinghouse and Tesla are Gates, Jobs and Musk. Inventors, industrialists and futurists alter the way people live their lives. We take the mountain of inventions for granted.

Gates and Jobs had a relationship in business and inventiveness that rivals the battle between Edison and Westinghouse for supremacy in the delivery of electrical power on a mass scale.

It doesn't matter that you have no interest in Edison and Westinghouse's rivalry beyond knowing that the lights in your house will glow when you flick the switch.

To discover the sparks behind the clashes between these industrial innovators, watch The Current Wars rather than sticking your fingers into an electric socket. It's much safer and more entertaining.

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