BIOGRAPHY: Written out of textbooks, neglected by historians, Tesla's gifts are only now being recognised, Jana Glogovac's film argues.
Nick Holdsworth
Journalist, writer, author, filmmaker and film and TV industry expert – Central and Eastern Europe and Russia.
Published date: December 7, 2019

Jana Glovocav’s entertaining documentary on the life and incredible inventions of Nikola Tesla leans towards the popular treatment of an astounding genius while sticking steadfastly to its core message: that humanity ignores his legacy at its peril.

The man whose pioneering work in wireless transmission and genius for combining the scientific and the mystical is today all but forgotten, his name known to most people only by association with Elon Musk’s electric car.

But the scores of incredible inventions he patented – and battled to protect for much of the second part of his long life – form the very basis for today’s globally connected world.

Foreseeing

Tesla, who worked through some kind of direct communion with the intrinsic intelligence of the universe, foresaw a world in which we could speak – and see – others at the touch of the button on the other side of it. He even predicted this would be possible on a device that could «fit into your pocket.»

As with so many visionaries born before their time, Tesla’s ideas threatened those with less imagination and those who stood to lose money from inventions he was felt should give free energy to people across the world.

Rivals

Glogovac’s film covers this ground thoroughly, opening with Edison’s notorious attempt to steal Tesla’s ideas, after promising him big money to work with him and then breaking his word. Tesla knew his own value and swiftly patented his work and soon teamed up with George Westinghouse, and later, J.P. Morgan.

That did not stop Edison running a campaign to discredit Tesla that included electrocuting an elephant on a New York street to demonstrate the dangers of Tesla’s electrical current. (Edison himself was so afraid of being electrocuted, the film claims, that he maintained his lighting networks at a steady 100 volts.)

Inspiration

Glogovac, who studied at Prague’s famous film school FAMU – where she was a student of the veteran Czech director Otakar Vavra and is Slovenian by birth, does not neglect Tesla’s Balkan roots, with inventors, engineers, and an actress from the region are among the eclectic cast of characters (Serbian-American performance artist Marina Abramovic even gets a look) found in the film.

As with so many visionaries born before their time, Tesla’s ideas threatened those with less imagination

There is enough science and technical information to satisfy engineers and …


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