The film's Educational Value
One of the most significant accuracies in the film is its portrayal of the rivalry between Nikola Tesla and Thomas Edison. The film accurately depicts the battle between the two inventors over the development of the electrical power distribution system, with Edison pushing for the direct current (DC) system and Tesla advocating for the alternating current (AC) system. The film also accurately shows Tesla's significant contributions to the development of the AC system and its widespread adoption, which revolutionized the electrical industry.
Another accuracy is the film's depiction of Tesla's work on wireless power transmission, which was a concept that he explored extensively in his later years. The film shows Tesla experimenting with the idea of transmitting electrical power without wires, which was an idea that Tesla believed had significant potential but was ultimately never fully realized.
One of the most significant inaccuracies in the film is its portrayal of Tesla's relationship with financier J.P. Morgan. The film suggests that Morgan invested heavily in Tesla's work on wireless power transmission, but in reality, Morgan was skeptical of the idea and never invested in it. Additionally, the film's portrayal of Tesla's mental illness is somewhat inaccurate and oversimplified, as it implies that Tesla's behavior was solely due to mental illness when there were likely other factors at play.
Inventions Used in the Film:
The film features several of Tesla's most famous inventions, including the AC motor, which he developed while working for George Westinghouse. The film also depicts Tesla's experiments with wireless power transmission, which he explored extensively in his later years. Additionally, the film briefly shows Tesla's work on X-ray technology, which he conducted in collaboration with other scientists in the late 19th century.
Overall, while the film takes some liberties with historical accuracy, it does a good job of portraying the main technological innovations of Nikola Tesla and their impact on the electrical industry.
The film's Entertainment Value
Personally, I found the film to be a confusing and disjointed narrative, with a random timeline of events that may or may not have been historically accurate. The movie's structure, with events occurring at seemingly random times and sometimes inaccurately presented (which the narrator does not clarify until after the event), was difficult to follow. It seemed as if the director, Michael Almereyda, had tried to turn history into rhetorical abstract art. The constant shifting of context made the movie difficult to follow, and my family, who watched it with me, became bored after only twenty minutes. Despite the well-crafted scenes and good acting, the movie was dull and disengaging.
"Ethan Hawke's performance as Nikola Tesla is mesmerizing... Tesla is a visually stunning, thought-provoking film that is a must-see for anyone interested in science, technology, and the history of invention." - Rotten Tomatoes, 79% rating: https://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/tesla_2020
"Tesla is a well-made and thought-provoking film that explores the life and work of one of history's most fascinating inventors. While it takes some liberties with historical accuracy, it offers a fresh and unique perspective on the life and legacy of Nikola Tesla." - Screen Rant: https://screenrant.com/tesla-2020-movie-reviews/
"Tesla is a deeply flawed and often frustrating film, but it is also a work of stunning ambition and creativity... The film's unconventional approach to storytelling and its willingness to take risks make it a fascinating and rewarding viewing experience." - IndieWire: https://www.indiewire.com/2020/08/tesla-review-ethan-hawke-nikola-tesla-1234573171/
"Despite the strong performances by the cast, Tesla is a tedious and disjointed film that fails to engage the viewer... The film's attempts at experimental storytelling fall flat and ultimately detract from the story it is trying to tell." - The Hollywood Reporter: https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/movies/movie-reviews/tesla-film-review-4057984/
"Tesla is a mixed bag of a film, with some inspired moments of creativity and thought-provoking ideas, but also with some missteps and inconsistencies... Despite its flaws, the film is worth watching for the performances of its talented cast and its unique take on a fascinating historical figure." - Variety: https://variety.com/2020/film/reviews/tesla-review-ethan-hawke-1234736209/