Anything about the strange scientific genius Nikola Tesla (1856-1943) is welcome, and this is a 60-minute documentary about him made by the Serbs and given an English language narration, with Serbian interviews done in English as well. The DVD is available in America. I am not certain that it has been correctly listed on IMDb. This is a stand-alone documentary, the full title of which is NIKOLA TESLA: THE GENIUS WHO LIT THE WORLD. But it is listed on IMDb under the heading of a Serbian ten-part dramatic series, although the image attached is of the documentary DVD. I suspect a mistake has been made. Additionally, the date of the documentary given on the DVD box is 2003, not 1977. The quality of the documentary is very poor, the cinematography is atrocious, and the entire production is amateurish. However, it is fascinating to see the enormous collection of Tesla artifacts at the Nikola Tesla Museum in Belgrade. After Tesla's death, his nephew brought all of that stuff back from America, which included many heavy and huge machines. They also say that they have 150,000 pages of documents on file, many of which have not yet been studied and a great deal is unpublished. The Serbs are justly proud of having produced the world-changing genius, and he is a national hero. (He was actually born in Croatia, but was a Serb.) For those who don't know, Nicola Tesla invented AC current electricity and it is genuinely true that to say that he 'lit the world'. He also invented radio before Marconi and X-rays before Roentgen. Tesla invented hundreds of things and had hundreds of patents. His great dream was the direct transmission of electric power without the need for wires. He succeeded in demonstrating wireless power transmission as early as 1891, but his financial backer J. P. Morgan shut down the project for intercontinental wireless transmission of power, saying: 'if anyone can have power, where do you put the meter?' In other words, free electric power was against commercial interests. Studies of Tesla inevitably come up against the scandals towards the end of his life when his work was suppressed, so perhaps that is why there is no American documentary about him, as it disturbs too many vested interests. He had also been developing a 'death ray' of particle beams for military use, a forerunner of the weapons now available and indeed many still under development, so that is sensitive too. Because Tesla liked to be photographed sitting calmly in the midst of artificial lightning generated by a huge Tesla coil, electrical bolts of half a million volts, he not only influenced the visual imagery of the subsequent Frankenstein films and hence the public view of the 'mad scientist', he even became known as something of a 'mad scientist' himself. He never married and was somewhat eccentric, and being a genius working in the area of science and technology, not everyone could understand what he was doing or talking about in any case. People always fear what they do not understand, and it is hard to understand Tesla, even when we are enjoying the products of his genius by reading by electric light, driving a car started by an electric battery, shaving with an electric razor, listening to the radio, watching television, and all the other things that we have today because Nikola Tesla made them possible. Tesla had numerous phobias and obsessive-compulsive symptoms such as refusal to shake hands because of a fear of germs, and the need to sit always at the same table in a favourite restaurant. There is also the fact that people do not like owing anything to someone else and feeling a debt of gratitude, so Tesla was resented for having beneficently 'lit the world'. No one ever gets any thanks for benefiting the world. In an earlier age, Tesla would have been burnt at the stake, or at least made to drink hemlock. Tesla admired Hinduism and used Sanskrit sometimes, and as someone who has studied Sanskrit myself, this greatly endears him to me. Tesla was 'a many-sided genius', and what a pity we all couldn't meet him. This film is useful and informative, and its faults may be ignored because of what we can learn from it.
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