The Electric Power Industry Movie I Missed (And You Probably Did Too)
Did you see it? I’m talking about “The Current War,” the movie that came and went this month before you could say AC/DC. No, it’s not about that iconic Australian hard rock band, although they’re still on my bucket list of must-see concerts.
This flick focuses on the very real battle between the icons of electron invention from the late 19th century: Thomas Edison, George Westinghouse and Nikola Tesla, the latter now getting the respect he deserves, including an electric car brand.
Basically, Edison, credited with perfecting the light bulb (among dozens of other inventions) preferred direct current or DC. Westinghouse was an AC enthusiast, preferring alternating current because it could more easily be transmitted over long distances from a central power station, a model still in place today.
Edison, a co-founder of General Electric Co., was adamant about “educating” the public on what he considered the inherent dangers of AC power. He simply thought it was too unsafe for the public. Edison demonstrated that by shocking to death live elephants before gasping audiences. Poor pachyderms. Yes, it was a different time.
And Tesla, his advanced ideas, such as wireless power transmission over long distances, is still being studied today.
Well, (spoiler alert), AC won out and that that type of current, 60-cycle or Hertz, is the American standard with no sign of slowing down. I’ve read some of the movie reviews and well, I prefer to make up my own mind. These historical flicks can sometimes bore a young audience.
Still, I think it’s important for moviegoers of all ages to learn something about those responsible for making our standard of living what it is today, with electric heat pumps, lighting and so many more modern marvels now so passé, that we really don’t consider them marvels anymore. But I will always think of electricity as magic and magical, even though I understand the science behind it.
So, look for “The Current War” (it was billed as the director’s cut) at the places where the movies that bombed go for a chance at a second life. You may learn something about how hard it was to achieve what we take for granted today.