Engineers are rarely featured in films, and when you do see engineers in a movie, they’re almost always playing a bit role. This week, one of the rare films in which engineers are the heroes opened. It’s “The Current War,” and it’s about the race between Thomas Edison and George Westinghouse to light up the world in the 1890s.
工程师的身影很少出现在电影中，当你在电影中看到工程师时，他们几乎总是扮演着“跑龙套”的角色。 这周，一部罕见的，以工程师为主角的电影上映了。电影名为 “The Current War”（译名：《电力之战》），主题是关于托马斯·爱迪生（Thomas Edison）和乔治·威斯汀豪斯（George Westinghouse）在19世纪90年代点亮世界的竞赛。
TRAILER VOICEOVER: “Thomas Alva Edison. My boys and I caught in a jar what before now has only flashed across the night sky." "The future is here." "Hello. I'm George Westinghouse." "Nikola Tesla." "I will be the greatest provider of electrical power in the world. Better than Edison." "There's a contest between you." "This is a battle for the brightest minds of America." "Today the impossible becomes possible." "And the man that controls that current controls the future." "I hope you brought your checkbooks."
预告片原声: 托马斯·阿尔瓦·爱迪生，“在我们让光亮划过夜空之前，我和我的伙计们遇到了困难。”“未来已至。”“你好，我是乔治·威斯汀豪斯。”“ 我是尼古拉·特斯拉。”“我将成为世界上最伟大的电力供应商，比爱迪生更强。”“这是你们之间的一场竞赛。”“这是美国最聪明的大脑之间的一场战争。”“今天，我们让不可能变成可能。”“谁掌控电流，谁就掌控着未来。”“我希望你带着你的支票簿。”
BRIAN SANTO: That's the promotional trailer from the new film, "The Current War."
BRIAN SANTO: 这是新电影《电力之战》宣传预告片的原声。
Hollywood films traffic in hyperbole, but the future actually was at stake. In 1879, Thomas Edison perfected the incandescent bulb and subsequently devised a means of distributing electricity. His intention was to provide electricity and illumination for the world... and to make a fortune doing it.
His electrification system was based on direct current — or DC — and it worked well, which he demonstrated by lighting up lower Manhattan. You couldn’t push DC power very far down a wire, however, so his system required a power plant every few miles.
That was technologically feasible, but George Westinghouse knew it was economically unrealistic. However, with an electrical distribution system based on alternating current — or AC — you could push power vast distances, and so require fewer generating plants. The problem was that, while it was possible to use AC to illuminate a light bulb, inventors could not figure out how to make a motor that worked with AC. Lighting was a nice business, but industrial usage of electricity had the potential to be very lucrative, and that meant driving motors.
Edison had a lead in the market, but as the 1880s progressed, Westinghouse became more and more competitive, and the rivalry became not just antagonistic, but deadly. Part of the history of the rivalry includes the invention of the electric chair and the founding of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA).
The competition was also central to the history of American finance in the 1880s and 1890s; the financial barons of the day were all involved, including and perhaps especially the richest man in the world at the time, J.P. Morgan.
这场竞争对19世纪80和90年代美国金融的影响也很大。当时的金融大亨都参与其中了，包括可能是当时世界上最富有的约翰·皮尔庞特·摩根（J.P. Morgan: John Pierpont Morgan Sr.）。
Westinghouse secured final advantage when he bought patents from Nikola Tesla, one of the world’s great geniuses. The Westinghouse AC system was already cheaper than Edison’s DC networks, but Tesla’s technology made AC practical for all purposes, and that was decisive.
The film’s climax is at the 1893 World Columbian Fair in Chicago, the so-called White City, where the first Ferris wheel was built, Westinghouse dazzled, and Tesla demonstrated technologies it would take years for the world to understand and appreciate.
“The Current War” covers much of that history, mostly accurately... though a few liberties were taken to advance the story without getting bogged down with sub-plots or getting overburdened with a huge cast of characters that would have included some of the most prominent engineers, industrialists and financiers of the era.
I went to see the movie last weekend, and so did EE Times editor George Leopold. The two of us got on the line to discuss the film.
上周末我去看了这部电影，EE Times的编辑George Leopold也去看了。我们俩将联线讨论这部电影。
So George, give us your capsule review of the movie.
GEORGE LEOPOLD: Well, "The Current War" is a stunning picture, beautifully shot, designed, great attention to detail. Just enough technology I think to make it credible without getting too far into the weeds. And very well written. I mean, I would urge anybody who sees it to take a guess at the beginning. There's a shot, a long shot of Thomas Edison in the snow, and I guessed where he was.
GEORGE LEOPOLD: 好的。《电力之战》是一部令人惊叹的电影，拍摄精美、场景设计巧妙，非常注重细节。我认为只有技术水平足够高才能使电影即逼真，又不会显得太杂乱无章。剧本也写得很好。我希望所有去看这部电影的观众在影片刚开始时都应该猜一猜。影片里有一个托马斯·爱迪生在雪地里的长镜头，我有试着猜他是在哪里。
BRIAN SANTO: Me, too.
BRIAN SANTO: 我也是。
GEORGE LEOPOLD: And in the end, I was correct. But anybody who does go to see the film, see if you can figure out where he is at the beginning.
GEORGE LEOPOLD: 影片最后揭晓我的猜测是正确的。不过任何打算去看电影的人，都可以看看是否能猜出他在开头所处的地方。
BRIAN SANTO: Yes. That was a really cool shot. You're right: It was a beautiful movie. I was really just knocked out by how visually stunning it is. At the beginning there's... one of the opening scenes after the one you just mentioned. A bunch of businessmen being taken out by train to Menlo Park in New Jersey, which at the time looked to be like nothing more than a couple of houses and a swamp.
BRIAN SANTO: 是的。那个镜头真的是太酷了。你说得对，这是一部制作精美的电影。我真的是被它令人叹服的视觉效果震撼了。在开头，有一个，刚刚提到的那个场景之后，有一个场景——一群商人正乘火车前往新泽西州的门洛帕克，当时那儿看起来只有几栋房子和一片沼泽。
GEORGE LEOPOLD: Right. In the Greater Tri-State Area of New York City.
GEORGE LEOPOLD: 对。在纽约市的大三州地区。
BRIAN SANTO: Right, right. Exactly. And the guy with the lantern that's leading them to where he wants them to go. Turns out the lantern, it's like pitch dark, some fog rolling around. And Edison...
BRIAN SANTO: 是的是的，正是。有个提着灯笼的家伙把这群人带到他想要他们去的地方。 然后把灯笼灭了，周围一片漆黑了，迷雾蒙蒙。还有爱迪生...
GEORGE LEOPOLD: ...Mud everywhere.
GEORGE LEOPOLD: ...到处都是泥。
BRIAN SANTO: Yeah. Squishing. Lots of squishing sounds on the soundtrack. And Edison lights up a couple of concentric rings of lightbulbs, illuminating the whole area. And... "Gentlemen, I hope you brought your checkbooks."
BRIAN SANTO: 是的。很压抑。配乐中有很多挤压声。 爱迪生点亮了两个同心灯泡环，照亮了整个区域。然后说到，“先生们，我希望你们带着支票簿。”
GEORGE LEOPOLD: Which is the trailer.
GEORGE LEOPOLD: 预告片片段。
BRIAN SANTO: Right. Fun and gorgeous. Just gorgeous scene.
BRIAN SANTO: 对。有趣又炫丽。很炫丽的一幕。
GEORGE LEOPOLD: Yeah. And it gives you some quick insight into Edison's thinking, how he operated, always practical, always chasing money, always hitting JP Morgan up for cash, because he needs money for the next invention and the invention after that and the one six months down the road. So that was portrayed very well.
GEORGE LEOPOLD: 是的，电影让你可以快速了解爱迪生的思想，他的商业如何运作，永远具有实践精神，总是追逐金钱，一直追着摩根要钱，因为他需要钱来完成下一项发明，下下项发明，以及后续六个月不断的发明。电影可以很好地描绘出来。
This immense amount of innovation at the end of the 19th Century in America. This is sort of a... it sort of encapsulates this period. It's just unbelievable technological innovation.
And you got him, you got George Westinghouse in Pittsburgh. And then you've got this guy, Nikola Tesla, who's the third actor in this play.
BRIAN SANTO: Right. What is fascinating to me is, the movie covers the competition between Edison and Edison Electric and Westinghouse to electrify the nation. And the person who has the key for success is Tesla. Edison kind of alienates Tesla, and he floats around for a while until Westinghouse finally finds him.
BRIAN SANTO: 对。吸引我的地方是，电影涵盖了爱迪生及爱迪生电气与威斯汀豪斯之间的竞争，竞争围绕着为全国供电展开。决定成功的关键人物是特斯拉。爱迪生有点疏远特斯拉，特斯拉沉寂一段时间，直到威斯汀豪斯最终找上了他。
The story today, I think a lot of engineers are familiar with it; there are a lot of not only Tesla enthusiasts, they're like fan boys. There's this crazy, almost cult of Tesla these days. And Edison is well known as one of America's greatest geniuses. You have these two geniuses involved, and often the story involves those two. And the third guy is Westinghouse – and not often given a lot of credit in the story of this period of extraordinary innovation – but the movie actually gives him a lot of screen time.
今天的故事，我想很多工程师都很熟悉。特斯拉不仅有发烧友，而且像是球迷男孩一样。 如今，这种对特斯拉的狂热，近乎崇拜。 爱迪生是美国最伟大的天才之一。这两个天才总被提到，而故事通常涉及这两个天才。第三个人是威斯汀豪斯——在这个非凡创新时期的故事中，他通常没有被给予很多赞誉——但是电影实际上给了他很多镜头。
GEORGE LEOPOLD: Right, yeah. He's the proponent of alternating current and makes this great pitch to his investors to get the contract for the Chicago World's Fair to where he just says, "Well, you'll get more voltage for less money. Thank you, gentlemen." And that was the end of his pitch. And he won!
GEORGE LEOPOLD: 是的，他是AC的拥护者，并向投资者大力宣传，以期获得芝加哥世界博览会的合同，他只是说：“您将以更少的钱获得更多的电压。感谢您，先生们。”那就是他演讲的结尾。他赢了！
That was basically the Chicago World's Fair, the Columbian Exposition I guess it was called, 1893. That was sort of the dénouement. This is where Westinghouse and his new partner, Tesla, basically win the current war over Thomas Edison who, as the film shows, quickly moves on to other things.
But I thought that one really great scene that engineers would appreciate was, during the Exhibition, Westinghouse is shown watching an Asian woman — I think she was Japanese — doing calligraphy. And Edison walks up and asks if he's enjoying the show. So finally, after probably a decade of beating the hell out of each other, they have this talk. And Westinghouse asks – and he's quite sincere about it – he said, "What did it feel like?" And Edison's not sure what he means. He says, "What did it feel like when you figured out the incandescent bulb?" And Edison talks about how they tried different materials and nothing worked. And one night they tried again; they didn't expect much to happen. And they waited an hour and it was still burning, and they waited six hours and they started cheering, and they waited 12 hours and it was still lit. And after 13 hours it popped. That was a nice moment.
但是我认为，工程师会喜欢的一个非常棒的场景是，在展览期间，威斯汀豪斯正看着一名亚裔女子——我认为她是日本人——在写书法。 爱迪生走了过去，问威斯汀豪斯是否喜欢这个节目。 终于，在经历了十年的相互竞争之后，他们有了这次对话。 威斯汀豪斯很诚恳地问爱迪生，“感觉怎么样？” 爱迪生不确定他的意思。威斯汀豪斯问：“当你发现白炽灯泡时感觉如何？” 爱迪生谈了他们如何尝试不同的材料，但没有任何效果。有天晚上，他们再次尝试，没预想会发生什么。他们等了一个小时，灯依然亮着，六个小时之后，他们开始欢呼，十二个小时之后，灯仍然亮着。然后在13个小时后突然熄了。那是一个美好的时刻。
What is invention about? What is innovation about? It's about hard work and trying things and failing until you get it right. Beautiful scene.
BRIAN SANTO: Well that's... It is a beautiful scene, but that's the fun thing about the Edison vs. Tesla thing. Because what Westinghouse needed for his AC system was motor. He could get the electricity out there, but he needed to drive industrial machines with them, right? So he needed a motor, and that's what one of Tesla's great innovations was: the polyphase motor. And they keep asking.... There's a couple of great scenes where they keep asking Tesla, "So you built this thing?" He goes, "No. Why would I build this?" It was like, "Well, to find out if it worked." He goes, "No, I built it in my head. It's perfect."
BRIAN SANTO: 好吧，那是一个美丽的场景，这是爱迪生与特斯拉之间的趣事。 因为威斯汀豪斯需要的AC系统是电动机。他能从那取电，用它们来驱动工业机器，对吗？ 因此，他需要一个电动机，这就是特斯拉最伟大的创新之一：多相电动机。他们一直在问。有几个很棒的场景，他们一直在问特斯拉：“所以是你建造了这个东西？” 他说：“不。我为什么要建造这个？” 就像，“好吧，我只是看看它否能运作。” 他说：“不，我把它建在脑子里。太完美了。”
GEORGE LEOPOLD: Yeah.
GEORGE LEOPOLD: 是的。
BRIAN SANTO: And that was always the dichotomy in invention, is encapsulated in those two great personalities. Edison, who will plod away, innovation is 95% perspiration, 5% inspiration.
BRIAN SANTO: 那始终是发明的二分法，被封装在这两个伟大的人物中。 爱迪生认为，创新是95％的汗水加上5％的灵感。
GEORGE LEOPOLD: Right.
GEORGE LEOPOLD: 对。
BRIAN SANTO: And Tesla is like, "go to fundamental principles and it'll work."
BRIAN SANTO: 特斯拉就像是“遵循基本原则，那它终将奏效”。
GEORGE LEOPOLD: Yeah. He kept saying, "You're not thinking long term." Well, unfortunately, the investors don't think long term. They think short term. But yeah, that was the nice contrast between sort of the dreamy Tesla and the very literally nuts-and-bolts Edison. So that was well done as well, I think.
GEORGE LEOPOLD: 是的，他一直说：“你没有长远的想法。” 好吧，不幸的是，投资者们并没有长远打算。 他们的思维是短浅的。 不过，是的，这是梦幻般的特斯拉与脚踏实地的爱迪生之间很好的对比。 我认为这也做得很好。
BRIAN SANTO: Yeah. And we keep bringing up a couple things here in our discussion so far about the investors, about going to JP Morgan. The opening like from Edison: "Gentlemen, I hope you brought your checkbooks." And the final win by Westinghouse, "I can do this cheaper." It's as much about finance and business as it is about the technology. It's about both. And the two are coupled. And what I loved about the movie was that Westinghouse is featured in part because, although he may not be as well known today for his efforts in that current war, he was the most ethical businessman among them all. He's the most ethical businessman. And the movie I think rewards him for that, as does American commerce at the end when they give him the contract.
BRIAN SANTO: 是的。到目前为止，我们一直在谈论关于投资者，关于去向摩根寻求资金。就像爱迪生的开场白：“先生们，我希望你带着你的支票簿。” 威斯汀豪斯确实最终胜利者“我可以让电更便宜”。金融、商业及技术，全都牵涉其中。胜利和这两方面息息相关。并且两者是相辅相成的。对这部电影，我最喜欢的地方在于，威斯汀豪斯的特色之一是，尽管在这场电力战争中他作了很大努力，可能如今他的名字并不为世人所知，但他是这些人中最有道德的商人。他是最有道德的商人。我认为这部电影突出了他的这个特质，美国商业也认同这点，最终威斯汀豪斯取得了合同。
GEORGE LEOPOLD: Yeah. In terms of casting, I think Michael Shannon as George Westinghouse will probably get an Oscar nomination. He should if he doesn't. But yeah, the other line I recall was when Tesla's investors basically come and take his patents and he's penniless again. And first they refer to him as just an immigrant, and then I think the investor says, "It's not about current. It's about currency." So that sort of sums it up right there.
GEORGE LEOPOLD: 是的。在演员方面，我认为迈克尔·香农（Michael Shannon）饰演的乔治·威斯汀豪斯也许会获得奥斯卡提名。他的表演具备这样的实力。是的，我记得的另一台词，特斯拉的投资者基本上是来接手了他的专利，而特斯拉又一文不名了。他们一来就称特斯拉为移民，我记得那些投资者接着说说：“这不是电流战争，这是货币战争。”差不多可以这样总结一下。
BRIAN SANTO: Yeah. Absolutely. Absolutely. Before we started recording this, we were talking a little bit in preparation, and you mentioned something about the score. So I'll set this up by... I'll ask you about that in a moment. I'll set this up by mentioning that Morse code is a running theme throughout the film. Edison famously nicknamed his two kids Dot and Dash. And the three communicate in Morse code from time to time throughout the movie. And you mentioned something about the soundtrack, and I want to let you bring it up yourself.
BRIAN SANTO: 是的，确实如此。在刚刚节目开录之前，我们正在做一些准备工作，你有提到关于乐谱的事。因此，我准备了问题，稍后将问到你。我想问的是莫尔斯电码是贯穿整部电影主题的。爱迪生以他给两个孩子取了Dot和Dash的绰号而闻名。在整部电影中，这三人不时用摩尔斯电码进行交流。 你提到了有关配乐的事，想请你聊聊这个。
GEORGE LEOPOLD: Yeah. Movies and soundtracks are really fundamental to sort of the look and feel of a quality film. And I sensed that there was this sort of repetitive sound within the soundtrack that evoked Morse code. I think that's what whoever did the score, I think that's what they were after. And I think it added a nice layer, a nice texture to the film as well that makes it really worth seeing. I give it a thumbs up. I think it was a really well-done movie.
GEORGE LEOPOLD: 是的，电影和它的原声确实是高质量电影的外化效果和观影感受的保障基础。我注意到原声中有这种重复的声音，带着摩尔斯电码的感觉。 我认为那是电影制作人特意弄得，是他们想要的效果。 而且我认为这些原声为影片增添了一层漂亮的质感，真的使它值得一看。我是点赞的。我认为这是一部非常出色的电影。
BRIAN SANTO: Yeah. The soundtrack was a bit of subtle genius. Absolutely fantastic. The flick I thought had... It didn't beat you over the head with history, but they make sure that a lot of really nice touches were in there all the time.
BRIAN SANTO: 是的，配乐挺出彩的。绝对精彩。我以为是轻弹的声音，它呈现了那种历史感，他们确保始终有很多非常好的触动观众的点。
The Ferris Wheel at the 1893 Exposition, that was the very first Ferris Wheel. Steel was kind of new. And one of the previous Expositions was in Paris, and they built the Eiffel Tower, a kind of a modern wonder of the world, with the newest construction materials. And the Americans decided to one-up them with a revolving steel structure. And they don't beat you over the head out of it, but there's a beautiful shot of that Ferris Wheel over the White City, the Exposition center in Chicago. Just a lot of neat details.
GEORGE LEOPOLD: Right. And I think there was a remark about early marketing. I think I recall Edison's assistant saying, "Why would you go to all these places and try and pitch direct current when they're all going to be together in Chicago in one place and you can sell it there?" And then he goes in and makes his hour-long pitch compared to George Westinghouse's, about two or three minutes.
GEORGE LEOPOLD: 对。我在想有关早期营销的言论。我想起了爱迪生助手说的话：“当人们都将汇聚于芝加哥，并且在那里给你提供售卖机会时，你为什么还要去其他地方推广DC呢？” 然后爱迪生过来了，与乔治·威斯汀豪斯进行了一小时的产品对比演说，大约需要2到3分钟。
BRIAN SANTO: By the way, the hour-long pitch only takes a few seconds in the movie. You don't actually have to sit through an hour.
BRIAN SANTO: 顺便说一句，长达一小时的演说在电影中仅需几秒钟。实际上你不必真的坐着等一小时。
GEORGE LEOPOLD: Yes. Noted, yes.
GEORGE LEOPOLD: 是的，注意到了。
BRIAN SANTO: So overall, pretty accurate. Maybe some of the dialogue was obviously a little modern. But still I think true to the characters. The acting was phenomenal. It's a gorgeous movie. My final word on it is, I would recommend that anybody go see it, not just engineers.
BRIAN SANTO: 总的来说，电影是很写实的。也许某些对话有点现代感。但是我仍然认为角色很真实。表演很出色。这是一部精彩的电影。总而言之，我建议所有人都去看看这部电影，而不仅仅只是工程师。
GEORGE LEOPOLD: I agree. My wife loved it, too.
GEORGE LEOPOLD: 我赞同。我太太很喜欢这部电影。
BRIAN SANTO: Mine too, yeah. So George, thanks. We'll be looking forward to reading your review in the pages of eetimes.com.
BRIAN SANTO: 是的，我太太也喜欢。感谢George。我们期待在eetimes.com网站上阅读你对该电影的评论文章。
GEORGE LEOPOLD: Good to be with you, Brian. Thanks.
GEORGE LEOPOLD: Brian，很高兴和你聊天，谢谢。