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Westinghouse - documentary DVD review
WESTINGHOUSE Not rated by the Motion Picture Association of America rating: 4 1/2 stars
Featuring: Carol Lee Espy, Edward J. Reis, William H. Terbo, Quentin R. Skrabec, Jr.
Director: Mark Bussler   Distributor: Inecom Entertainment
DVD release: 08 April 2008   Runtime: 112 min. (1 disc)
Format: Anamorphic, Color, Dolby, DVD-Video, NTSC, Surround Sound, Widescreen
DVD Features: Languages (Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround - English), Subtitles (English), Outtakes, Interviews and unused Footage, William H. Terbo Discusses Nikola Tesla, The Westinghouse Time Capsule, Type-V Disconnecting Switches, Commentary track with writer/director Mark Bussler and Edward J. Reis, Executive Director of the George Westinghouse Museum (1998-2007), Inecom trailers

If you've never heard of George Westinghouse, you should. Many of the advancements in engineering we enjoy these days are due to him. In my estimation (and that of the filmmakers), Westinghouse was a freakin' genius. He made it possible for trains to move fast and stop in less than two miles (among other inventions to help the railway industry), made many advancements in the natural gas industry, and made alternating current the standard we use today.

If all of his inventions didn't make him a genius, then the way he worked with people did. He did crazy things like care about his employees. He realized that a mini-holiday on Saturday would bring his employees back to work more refreshed and less likely to encounter workplace accidents. Westinghouse knew well enough to hire those who knew more than he did. He surrounded himself with bright people like Nikola Tesla. Thomas Edison had hired Tesla but failed to see that he had a gem and refused to pay him anywhere near what he was worth. Westinghouse hired him and treated him well, and in return reaped the rewards.

Mark Bussler's Westinghouse brings us back to that exciting era in the late 1800s when the world was leaping forward commercially and technologically. Houses had gas but not electricity, trains were getting faster but not safer. It was an amazing time, and we can feel the electricity in the air. Bussler shows us how Westinghouse struggled from factory worker to humble master of a technological empire. Using archive photos from the Westinghouse Museum, classic films of the 1939 World's Fair, and interviews with experts on the subject of Westinghouse, Tesla and Edison, all sewn together with the excellent narration of Carol Lee Espy, Westinghouse is a history lesson and an inspiration. For anyone who enjoys stories of the beginnings of modern technology, engineering feats or history, Westinghouse is for you.

Extra features include unused but still compelling outtakes, interviews, and footage, more about Nikola Tesla from his grandnephew, William H. Terbo, a feature on the Westinghouse Time Capsule (buried during the 1939 World's Fair), and an industrial film on Type-V electrical switches (I know, I couldn't believe it!). Seriously, the Type-V film is really cool. Feature-length commentary with Bussler and Edward J. Reis of the Westinghouse Museum adds even more in-depth detail.

Mark Bussler is quickly becoming a master of his craft, and I can't wait to see what he will bring us next. Are you interested in F.W. Woolworth, Mark?
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reviewed by Eric Renshaw
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