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The visionary who wanted to give the world free electricity

Teslafy Me
Regissør: Janja Glogovac

FORGOT GENI?: The film Teslafy Me wipes the dust off the story of the inventor Nikola Tesla, whom we can thank every time we are connected to the world.


Director Janja Glogovac has made an entertaining documentary about Nikola Tesla (1856-1943) and his inventions. We get to know an astonishingly brilliant man through a movie whose core message is that humanity ignores the legacy of Tesla – which can be dangerous.

The name Tesla may be associated today primarily with Elon Musk's electric car – named after the inventor – but Tesla's groundbreaking work within wireless transference and his talent for combining the scientific and the mysterious are not entirely forgotten. Tesla patented a huge number of inventions and fought to protect them for large parts of their lives, inventions that form the very foundation of today's globally connected world.

Precise predictions

Tesla, concerned with the universe's own intelligence, foresaw a world where we could talk to and see others at the touch of a button. He even predicted that this would be possible via a device "that fits in his pocket".

Tesla's ideas were perceived as threatening and those with less imagination than himself.

Like the minds of other visionaries ahead of its time, Tesla's ideas were perceived as threatening by those with less imagination than himself – not least those who risked losing money on his inventions: Tesla was determined that his inventions should is used to provide free power to people all over the world.

This did not stop Thomas Edison from trying to discredit Tesla, including by killing an elephant in New York by passing alternating current through it to demonstrate the danger of Tesla's new electric current. [It's all pinned to movies in Edison's Electrocuting and Elephant from 1903, which you can search on YouTube, ed.] Edison performed several such electric shocks in his aggressive campaign against Tesla. (It is claimed that Edison himself was so terrified of electric shock that he kept his light bulbs at a voltage of just 100 volts.)

The film faithfully retells this story, but the fixed film title and use of commentators, including a "well-known numerologist" and an "inventor of Hollywood films," as well as Leonardo DiCaprio as an environmentalist, signal that the film seeks to reach a wider audience and not just to those who know Nikola Tesla and his inventions from before.

Tesla's roots

Slovenian-born Glogovac studied at Prague's famous film school FAMU, where she was taught by the experienced Czech. . .

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Nick Holdsworth
Holdsworth is a writer, journalist and filmmaker.

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