Coming to DVD today, Tuesday, January 20 and to PBS’s American Experience next Tuesday, January 27: EDISON
Michelle Ferrari’s chronicle of the life and world-changing work of the legendary inventor will make its debut next week, but due to a scheduling shift, actually comes to DVD a week earlier.
An exploration not only of Thomas Alva Edison’s remarkable creative output – he still boasts more patents than any other single individual – but of his prescience of branding and marketing, Ferrari’s biography is informative, comprehensive, and clearly conveys the radical transformation his inventions wrought on society. While utterly conventional in its structure and approach – heavily reliant on narration to adequately cover Edison’s eight decades, peppered with historian and other expert talking heads to lend some variety – the doc still manages to prove engaging for its two-hour running time, revealing a clear sense of the Wizard of Menlo Park’s creative process, business acumen, ambition, and even hubris – the latter chiefly in his stubborn and short-sighted refusal to adopt alternating current vs his preferred but limited distance direct current. Ferrari’s profile is particularly intriguing in its exploration of Edison’s savviness not only in creating new things but, perhaps more importantly, determining how to bring them into the marketplace and to create awareness and demand. His ability to hype his products, and his awareness of the power of his brand, informs the film’s welcome look at Edison as celebrity, teased out particularly in the last section, covering the man’s waning years.