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PRINT September 2020

ELECTRIC DREAMS

Michael Almereyda, Tesla, 2020, 2K video, color, sound, 102 minutes.

WHEN MICHAEL ALMEREYDA was about sixteen, he often visited the much older comic-book artist Alex Toth, who lived in Hollywood, chain-smoked, and talked endlessly about Nikola Tesla, visionary inventor of the mechanism that, 135 years later, still harnesses and distributes alternating current. Our illuminated world is the world that Tesla brought into being just before the dawn of the twentieth century. You might presume that the credit should go to Thomas Alva Edison, but you would be wrong. In 1980, Almereyda dropped out of Harvard to finish a screenplay about Tesla that was then optioned as a project for the Polish director Jerzy Skolimowski. The film was never made, but when Uri Singer, one of the producers of two of Almereyda’s most critically successful movies, Experimenter (2015) and Marjorie Prime (2017), asked the maverick, sometimes science-oriented American independent

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