By the time he died in 1931, Thomas Alva Edison was one of the most famous men in the world. The holder of more patents than any other inventor in history, Edison had achieved glory as the genius behind such revolutionary inventions as sound recording, motion pictures, and electric light.

Born on the threshold of America’s burgeoning industrial empire, Edison’s curiosity led him to its cutting edge. With just three months of formal schooling, he took on one seemingly impossible technical challenge after another, and through intuition, persistence, and a unique team approach to innovation, invariably solved it.

Driven and intensely competitive, Edison was often neglectful in his private life and could be ruthless in business. Challenged by competition in the industry he’d founded, Edison launched an ugly propaganda campaign against his rivals, and used his credibility as an electrical expert to help ensure that high-voltage electrocution became a form of capital punishment.

Edison explores the complex alchemy that accounts for the enduring celebrity of America’s most famous inventor, offering new perspectives on the man and his milieu, and illuminating not only the true nature of invention, but its role in turn-of-the-century America’s rush into the future.


“Edison: The Father of Invention” is a two hour long look at the life of Edison. Building off his work in patenting the inventions of others, we get to see how this American success story made his image. Thankfully, there is a great deal of the documentary dedicated to how awful Edison treated competition. Plus, we got to see how he was so influential in creating the mythic Electric Chair. But, I wouldn’t be cool with the documentary unless there was newly uncovered footage of the butthole apologizing to Tesla.

While I’m of the online nerd sect that finds Edison to be an opportunistic scumbag, the man lived life to its strangest. He was obsessed with controlling public opinion and taking over all avenues to his devices. The man stole outright from Melies and foreign filmmakers, while nearly crippling the American Film Industry in its infancy. Then, there were the battles with George Westinghouse over powering New York City. There’s enough material to make an on-going series.

The DVD comes with no special features. The A/V Quality is on par for a PBS documentary. The transfer isn’t amazing, but it works. The same goes for the Dolby audio track. In the end, I’d recommend a purchase to the curious.


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