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The Current War: Director's Cut (2017)

The Current War (original title)
2:30 | Trailer
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.


Michael Mitnick
1,257 ( 788)





Cast overview, first billed only:
Benedict Cumberbatch ... Thomas Alva Edison
Oliver Powell ... Leo
Sophia Ally ... Dot (Younger)
Tuppence Middleton ... Mary Edison
Woody Norman ... Dash (Younger)
Tom Holland ... Samuel Insull
Matthew Macfadyen ... J.P. Morgan
Dominic Coleman ... White House Butler
Corey Johnson ... President Chester A. Arthur
Katherine Waterston ... Marguerite Westinghouse
Michael Shannon ... George Westinghouse
Stanley Townsend ... Franklin Pope
Nicholas Hoult ... Nikola Tesla
Emma Davies ... Female Reporter
Nigel Whitmey ... Doctor Grandoff


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


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 »

Did You Know?


The composers for the Director's Cut (2019) of the film are Danny Bensi and Saunder Jurriaans. See more »


The movie depicts the electric chair electrocution of William Kemmler as if it happened at the same time as the opening of the Columbian Exposition in Chicago but Kemmler was executed in 1890 and the Columbian Exposition opened in 1893. See more »


[first lines]
Thomas Edison: To all whom it may concern, be it known that I, Thomas Alva Edison, submits on this, the 27th day of January, 1880, the application of this abstract to the Patent Office of the United States of America. The unique design of my invention is that of a glass vacuum tube which houses inside a thin cotton thread filament, the two lower ends of which secure respective posts, forming an arch shape. Details and schematic drawings follow exhibiting all aspects of the invention. But its ...
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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 »


The Laughing Song
Performed by George W. Johnson, Edison Records
Courtesy of University of California Santa Barbara Library
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User Reviews

A much better film that many critics labelled it to be
25 June 2020 | by eddie_bagginsSee all my reviews

An upcoming director whose previous film was the indie darling Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, producing work by Russian film heavyweight Timur Bekmambetov and Hollywood legend Martin Scorsese, a cast of some of the most respected talent working today and a true story at its disposal that is loaded with ripe potential, The Current War should have been a contender.

Finished way back in 2017 and scheduled to play out in the awards season period, this one time Harvey Weinstein backed project became an unfortunate victim to the downfall of the big-time producer, given a lifeline years later in what became a low-key cinematic release, anchored down by mediocre reviews that lamented director Alfonso Gomez-Rejon emotion free affair.

To my surprise, The Current War is far from the failure as a product many would have had viewers believe, it surely jams too much content into a brief 100 minute run-time, with Nicholas Hoult's Nicola Tesla given a particular short straw in regards to screen-time and development, but Rejon's energetic direction and constantly moving narrative is never dull and a fine reminder to us all that the technology we take for granted today was at one-time in history a magical invention.

A story that would've been perfectly suited to a mini-series treatment, The Current War examines the life and times of esteemed inventors Tesla, Benedict Cumberbatch's Thomas Edison and Michael Shannon's wealthy businessman George Westinghouse, who all found themselves in the late 1800's competing against one another as humankind discovered the power of electricity, both good and bad.

Throwing us headfirst into the race to light up America and the world, Rejon wastes little time as we find Edison showcasing his significant discovery to an unsuspecting population, with Cumberbatch's finely attuned portrayal of the well-known historical figure one of the highlights of the film and from there we are in the whirlwind of activity as these various men push forward with their ideas and pursuits, often no matter the cost that may be associated with that.

There's some fascinating aspects of this time and movement explored in the film, Edison's reluctance to develop something that may take human lives and Tesla's battles to be taken seriously such elements but nothing is given too much room to breathe by Rejon as he constantly pushes us forward, a reason no doubt why many critics were left unimpressed with a film that stylistically and aesthetically is above average but fails to ignite the heart.

When it comes to the big screen treatment of this subject, The Current War remains one of the more memorable offerings, one that could've been something special but still not the dull mess many would've had us believe it to be.

Final Say -

A solid drama about a fascinating series of subject matters and historical events, The Current War is far from the failure it appeared to be, even if it is unable to become something downright special.

3 1/2 globes out of 5

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Frequently Asked Questions

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USA | Russia | UK



Release Date:

25 October 2019 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Current War: Director's Cut See more »


Box Office


$30,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$2,633,717, 27 October 2019

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

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Company Credits

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Technical Specs




Aspect Ratio:

2.39 : 1
See full technical specs »

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