Nikola Tesla: Mad Scientist of the Gilded Age (1984)

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Nikola Tesla: Mad Scientist of the Gilded Age (1984) Poster

The works of a madman or the brilliance of a true genius are analyzed and explored in this short film showing us the great achievements of inventor Nikola Tesla - the man who made a ... See full summary »

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22 April 2018 | Rodrigo_Amaro
| A brief view to the creations of a genius
To fresh film audiences Nikola Tesla will be the mysterious genius figure played by David Bowie in "The Prestige" some years ago; from what's presented in this short film by Marc Seifer he isn't all that mysterious but he certain carries some geniality on him and actually developed crazed projects involving electricity. He was a revolutionary, visionary and made thousands of advances towards science and electricity, its true roots along with Edison but during the turn of the century things got sour, strange or too dreamy projects were never finished due to investors backing out of Tesla's beyond belief ideas and then he died in some obscurity. His importance took some momentum and great load of time to define him as one of the greatest scientific and creative minds of all time.

Seifer's film proves that even though it's more like a school/slide-show presentation with great photographs to show but not much of talking heads revealing Tesla's efforts and importance - but the director relies on a great voice and narration who was the late J.T. Walsh, friends with Seifer and at the time Walsh wasn't known to audiences as a great character he'd become in the following years. Walsh is the one who presents to us about Tesla's successful inventions and the ones that weren't so good or failed. It's a fine introduction to those who know little about Nikola Tesla, obviously there's plenty of full films and books about him but it's fun to watch despite its limitations. Mr. Seifer's project is pretty decent, reveals about not only about the man and his creations but also the people and the time he lived, a time of transformations, both scientific and cultural and how everything seemed possible when energy, light, cinema, motor vehicles, lazer beams and more were created and developed in a matter of years and how Tesla managed to succeed in being part of that era, in being a fundamental piece to what the then future 20th century would become and how much we benefitted with his marvelous techniques. Along with the countless images of the era, Walsh's brilliant narration, the film is nicely supported by a melancholic and at times somber music that follows the rise and sort of like fall of Tesla. Yet the question remains: was he a genius or a madman? Take your pick. 10/10

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