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The Current War: Director's Cut (2017)

The Current War (original title)
PG-13 | | Biography, Drama, History | 2019 (USA)
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The dramatic story of the cutthroat race between electricity titans Thomas Edison and George Westinghouse to determine whose electrical system would power the modern world.

Writer:

Michael Mitnick
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Benedict Cumberbatch ... Thomas Edison
Oliver Powell ... Leo
Katherine Waterston ... Marguerite Westinghouse
Nancy Crane ... Gladys
Liza Ross Liza Ross ... Beti
Tim Steed ... Maurice Manesburg
Michael Shannon ... George Westinghouse
David Morley Hale David Morley Hale ... Frederick Worthington
Amy Marston ... Annabelle Worthington
Robert Jezek Robert Jezek ... Mr. Faulk
Abigail Johns Abigail Johns ... Emily Faulk
Tom Bell ... Reverend Vincent
Giles Terera ... Elijah McCoy
Samuel Dutton Samuel Dutton ... Mr. Burton
Stanley Townsend ... Franklin Pope
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Storyline

Three brilliant visionaries set off in a charged battle for the future in The Current War, the epic story of the cutthroat competition that literally lit up the modern world. Benedict Cumberbatch is Thomas Edison, the celebrity inventor on the verge of bringing electricity to Manhattan with his radical new DC technology. On the eve of triumph, his plans are upended by charismatic businessman George Westinghouse (Michael Shannon), who believes he and his partner, the upstart genius Nikola Tesla (Nicholas Hoult), have a superior idea for how to rapidly electrify America: with AC current. As Edison and Westinghouse grapple for who will power the nation, they spark one of the first and greatest corporate feuds in American history, establishing for future Titans of Industry the need to break all the rules. Directed by Alfonso Gomez-Rejon (Me and Earl and the Dying Girl) with Producer Timur Bekmambetov, Basil Iwanyk and Executive Producer Martin Scorsese, The Current War also stars ...

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Inspired by True Events See more »


Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for some violent content and thematic elements | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA | Russia | UK

Language:

English

Release Date:

2019 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Current War: Director's Cut See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$30,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$2,633,717, 27 October 2019

Gross USA:

$5,979,540

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$11,521,820
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.39 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The original cut was rated PG-13 by the MPAA for "some violent content and thematic elements." See more »

Goofs

The film is set in a time period spanning the 1880s and 1890s. Maps shown in the film show the states of Utah, Oklahoma, New Mexico, and Arizona, which didn't become a state until between 1896 and 1912. See more »

Quotes

Franklin Pope: The good thing about Edison is that he could be the richest man in the world, but he doesn't give a damn about money.
George Westinghouse: What does he give a damn about?
See more »

Alternate Versions

The music of the original cut (by Volker Bertelmann aka Hausckha and Dustin O'Halloran) has been replaced in the director's cut by a new score by Danny Bensi and Saunder Jurriaans See more »

Connections

Referenced in Midnight Screenings: Tulip Fever (2017) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Rivalry needs to be charged
25 October 2019 | by ferguson-6See all my reviews

Greetings again from the darkness. Electricity. Bringing light and power to the world. Other than dependable food sources and clean water and air, nothing is more vital to our way of life today. However, going back in time only 125 years finds the sun and candlelight as the only forms of illumination. Oh, but behind the doors of laboratories for Thomas Edison and George Westinghouse, skilled engineers were working diligently to discover the breakthrough that would deliver light to the dark world.

Normally the making of a movie is not a story worth telling. The final work should speak for itself. But the story of this film's road to the screen is not normal. This was the film Harvey Weinstein was working on when his sex abuse scandal broke. Weinstein went ahead with the screening of the film at the 2017 Toronto Film Festival despite pleas from the director that the film was not ready to be shown. Once the scandal hit, director Alfonso Gomez-Rejon (the excellent ME AND EARL AND THE DYING GIRL, 2015) was helpless - he couldn't access the film for reshoots and final edit. Now, after two years of legal wranglings, he is finally able to present his finished project.

On one hand, it's a feel good story for the director. On the other hand, the film falls short of being a top notch historical drama ... despite it being a real life drama that changed the world. Most would agree there isn't much entertainment value in watching the daily trial and error of engineers in a lab, so it makes perfect sense that director Gomez-Rejon and writer Michael Mitnick would turn their focus on the personal and professional rivalry between Thomas Edison and George Westinghouse, as well as a portion of the story involving Serbian immigrant Nikola Tesla - perhaps the most brilliant of them all.

Benedict Cumberbatch plays Edison, a true celebrity and renowned inventor. We see how Edison's family life with wife Mary (Tuppence Middleton) takes a back seat to his work at his Menlo Park lab; a trait that becomes more extreme after a personal tragedy. Michael Shannon plays George Westinghouse, developer of railway air brakes, in a stoic and focused manner, and with a close relationship with his wife Marguerite (Katherine Waterston). Nicholas Hoult portrays Nikola Tesla, he of brilliant mind contrasted with quirky and fastidious ways. The other two key players here are Matthew Macfayden as JP Morgan, the banker who finances much of the work, and Tom Holland as Samuel Insull, Edison's loyal assistant.

While difficult to imagine now, the big debate boiled down to what form of electricity was most practical for the masses. Edison believed it was direct current (DC), while Westinghouse and Tesla were all in for alternating current (AC), which they believed to be cheaper and more powerful. Edison, ever the media manipulator, created questions of public safety in regards to AC by pulling dramatic public stunts. An interesting note here is that despite Edison's pledge to never invent military weapons or anything designed to take a life, it was his work that led to the use of the electric chair as a replacement for hangings in death penalty cases.

This rivalry between two titans of industry never seems to click, and sadly, Tesla's story comes across as an add-on to the movie - though his work is worthy of its own movie. Westinghouse deals with his Civil War flashbacks, and Edison's coarse nature is dulled somewhat here in an effort to make him a bit more appealing as a character. The 1893 Chicago World's Fair provides the "finish line" for this competition, with the winner lighting up the Fair and setting the stage for the rest of the country. There are flickers of a great movie here, and the performances reach the expected levels for such a strong cast, but overall the movie comes across a bit disjointed and trying much too hard to be regarded as a prestigious film.


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