The Current War—EdisonReport Movie Review

November 11, 2019 [addtoany]

Exclusive to The Edison Report

The ER Critic’s Corner

By Doug Baillie

The Current War

Playing in theaters now, recounting the electrification and lighting of America: ≈1880 to 1893. And the intrigue behind the support of AC vs. DC between Edison, Westinghouse, and Tesla.

The Current War will delight Edison Report readers- it’s not often that a vertical industrial market has enough intrigue and appeal to receive major motion picture treatment. The movie script does an admirable job in explaining our tech-talk for laymen, similar to the process we faced in meetings with our R&D engineers. Dynamos, motors, generators, light bulbs, copper wire, and the electric chair are all woven in the story, supporting my long-standing belief that when a new technology’s time has come, it arrives in a big wave from multiple directions.

Like politics, the movie follows the money. JP Morgan supported Edison with millions of dollars, until it became clear that Westinghouse and Tesla’s AC current was a far cheaper and more practical solution. At that point in history, General Electric and Westinghouse Electric were formed… I wonder whatever happened to those companies?

The only comic relief in The Current War is JP Morgan’s big red nose. His portraits in his home/library/museum on Madison Ave in New York don’t reflect this condition, but then I’m sure his portrait artists knew this instinctively. (The Morgan Library is a great choice if you have 2 hours of museum time in NY.)

Reviews of The Current War have been less than glowing. Do not be put off. It’s a joyride back in time and a peek into the foundation of the arena where we’ve spent so much time.


About Doug Baillie

Doug Baillie spent more than 45 years in marketing communications management for Siemens and Acuity Brands, and currently consults in the lighting industry. He served on the National Lighting Bureau Board for 20 years.