Before diving into the history lesson in the film, we’re gonna get into a small history lesson about the film. You prolly find it kinda weird that this film you likely haven’t heard of is being billed as a director’s cut. Why is that a thing? Follow me down the rabbit hole.
The Current War was initially set to be released two years ago. It made the rounds at a few festivals and trailers were playing in theaters. Then it was suddenly pulled from theaters? Why? Me Too. This was the last film that was being held by The Weinstein Company when that bombshell dropped and broke open Hollywood. TWC would never be releasing a film again, so this film got stuck in limbo.
But the story goes deeper than that. Other films that TWC had in its store just got sold off and released by other distributors. What was the problem here? Well besides being known as a rapist asshole, Weinstein himself was nicknamed Harvey Scissorhands because he would edit the crap out of his films, and usually not very well. He would try to make things more cinematic adding more action or unnecessary sexual content and basically destroying any artistic vision. This was well documented over various films and The Current War was another [I hate to say victim because a film is nothing in comparison to his human victims, but I can’t think of a better word]. When this film finally broke free of its studio, it got recut (it says director’s cut, but someone told me Scorsese edited it, and I’m too lazy to Google to confirm).
Personally, I think releasing this as a director’s cut is genius publicity. First off, if you know nothing about this film, “Director’s Cut” is a phrase that’ll get your attention. People typically associate Director’s Cut to mean “better version of the film” whether it’s actually true or not. And then if you do know the film, it gives you hope that maybe it’s not actually as terrible as the initial reviews would lead you to believe. AND if you were unfortunate enough to see the original cut two years ago, maybe this would feel distant enough to give it another chance. Genius.
Hoo okay that was a lot of backstory. What the heck is this movie even about? We follow Thomas Edison (Bennedict Cumberbatch) vying against George Westinghouse (Michael Shannon) to bring electricity and artificial lights to the whole country. Edison’s direct current method is safer but inefficient and expensive. Westinghouse’s alternating current can reach farther for cheaper but raises some safety concerns. Nicola Tesla (Nicholas Hoult) is also involved, and also worth shouting out that Edison’s assistant Insull is played by Tom Holland. All those names I just mentioned are exactly why I kept up with this movie for these two years.
I liked this movie. The story itself is so interesting, and I’ll admit my knowledge of history in this area was a little lacking, so I was absorbing every bit of information that was being presented. I appreciated the way that information was presented as well. It was almost clinical, without many frills or flourishes, and that worked. The history has enough built in drama, that it didn’t feel like there was any manufactored drama thrown on top of that. Besides that, neither side was portrayed as the obvious villain or hero. My loyalty switched with every scene, and I legitimately did not know who I wanted to be most successful. It’s a difficult needle to thread, and I think the film did so well.
So it was a long journey getting this film in theaters, and I’m glad that this film did finally get seen. I don’t know that I’d call it an entertaining film by Hollywood standards, but I absolutely enjoyed how much I learned watching it. That was enough.
The Current War (Director’s Cut) – \m/ \m/ \m/ \n