The movie “Tesla”, as the very name suggests, is a biopic about visionary Nikola Tesla. It focuses on his interactions with Anne, JP Morgan’s daughter, and Thomas Edison. It highlights the breakthroughs Tesla makes in the realm of electric power transmission.
It starts off just like any other straight-faced biopic movie where Edison refused to hand over $50,000 as payment to Nikola Tesla. The scene shows a fight over ice cream cones and climaxes when Tesla smashes the cone into Edison’s face. There are many moments in this movie that seek to explore “what if” situations.
The story centers on Nikola Tesla, an outstanding inventor, who has a machine capable of providing electric power to the world. But his AC model clashes with Edison’s DC model so much so that Thomas Edison starts a vicious campaign to malign Tesla. The campaign is against AC and involved electrocuting dogs. However, AC eventually takes over but Tesla is so ambitious that he harms himself in the process. He manages to sacrifice royalty for the invention and starts developing a wireless power system that had potential but would not be much profitable. As a result, his ideas end up becoming more and more bizarre and his fortunes start to disappear. He ultimately dies penniless, even though he earned a lot of praise worldwide.
The movie mainly sticks to a David and Goliath rendition of the idealistic inventor fighting the smart businessman Edison. Ethane Hawke plays the role of Tesla in this biopic. He shows the struggle and exasperation of the great inventor in his interactions with investors who cannot understand how any of his inventions could benefit mankind. It also shows his long-standing friendship with Anne, a philanthropist herself, and who is also the film’s narrator.
It is she, who is the anchor in the movie, and in one instance she even mentions, that Tesla is not even half as searched as Edison; neither will you find too many photos of him anywhere. The director Almereyda is brilliant and continues to be one of the modern-day unsung American filmmakers for choosing to create scripts that are risky but strong. He is still known for his 2000 modern version of the “Hamlet” where too Hawke had played the role of the protagonist.
The movie is worth a watch if you are a fan of Tesla and wish to know more about his achievements and challenges since rather less of his life has been celebrated, compared to his contemporaries who had probably achieves much less. While Tesla worked in Edison’s lab, intellectual disputes soon converted them into rivals and he gets cast out. In spite of the adversities, the people who continue to have faith in Tesla are the entrepreneur George Westinghouse and Anne. But Anne cannot turn Tesla towards romance. You will find Tesla appearing as an anxious cipher for most of this movie. He seems so much driven by his dreams that he cannot see what the basic human needs are. This desperation that Hawke exhibits so well is something that viewers should explore.