The Secret Life of Nikola Tesla (1980)

  |  Biography, Drama


The Secret Life of Nikola Tesla (1980) Poster

Life and times of Nikola Tesla, famous scientist whose inventions were stolen, but whose greatest contribution to mankind remain a mystery to this day.


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26 February 2007 | rooprect
7
| Fantastic story. Presentation not as impressive. See it anyway.
If you're unfamiliar with the story of Nikola Tesla, get familiar with it now. In a nutshell, he was one of the rare inventors (actually the only one that comes to mind) who was dedicated foremost to benefitting life on Earth. While other inventors were after glory, gains and economic interests, Telsa simply wanted to improve the planet. In that respect, his ideas for clean, free power came long before our dwindling resources and global warming made it a selfish need of ours. Tesla was a true altruist.

This film tries to give us the gist of his life. The film takes a melancholy, ponderous approach which will doubtlessly bore many people. There are cryptic, wordless scenes of Tesla observing nature: sunsets, rivers, and of course lightning storms. This is a subtle way of showing how Tesla derived his inspiration from natural elements. However, in using this subtle approach, the director sacrifices momentum of plot.

Almost secondary is the action. The bitter rivalry from Edison (who, yes, was a sociopathic nut case who did indeed electrocute dogs and cats in public as this movie alludes) as well as the phenomenal accomplishments of Tesla (lighting the World's Fair and building the AC power station at Niagra Falls) are glossed over in light of Tesla's dreamy reveries. And Tesla's grandest scheme, a "free power Earth", was so ambiguously presented that we, the audience, come away feeling slightly unfulfilled.

Of course, that was the director's intent. We, the humans of planet Earth, are left unfulfilled, because obviously we're not hopping around the globe in free Telsa machines the way he had hoped. We don't even know 1/100th of what we could have possibly had, if history had taken a different turn.

This movie is to be approached very philosophically and artistically. If you're looking for a factual biopic, you might want to start elsewhere. But whatever you do, learn about Tesla any way you can. On the lighter side, check out Jim Jarmusch's "Coffee & Cigarettes" featuring a bunch of short comedy skits with famous actors & musicians (Bill Murray, Iggy Pop, Cate Blanchett, Steve Buscemi, etc) which revolve around Tesla's idea that the world is an acoustical resonator. For a quick laugh, see one of the skits on youtube starting The White Stripes, called "Jack Shows Meg His Tesla Coil".

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Details

Release Date:

19 February 1980

Language

English, Serbo-Croatian


Country of Origin

Yugoslavia

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