Alfonso Gomez-Rejon’s Reshoot Aims To Overcome The Weinstein Company’s Creative Stains
At the end of this week, David Glasser’s young 101 Studios will release director Alfonso Gomez-Rejon’s latest film, “The Current War: Director’s Cut”—and the second half of that title is just as crucial as the first.
“The Current War” first came out way back in 2017, debuting at the Toronto International Film Festival. Despite having an impressive cast featuring Benedict Cumberbatch, Michael Shannon, Nicholas Hoult, and Tom Holland, the film received strikingly negative reviews following the festival. Honestly though, Gomez-Rejon expected nothing else at the time.
‘The Current War’ before the ‘Director’s Cut’ Messed Up by Harvey Weinstein
Although Gomez-Rejon did direct this initial cut, the film was edited under the domineering influence of executive producer Harvey Weinstein. Initially a product of The Weinstein Company, “The Current War” may have been Gomez-Rejon’s vision to begin with, but Weinstein reportedly gutted the project into something that the director ended up feeling ashamed of.
Following the Toronto Film Festival in September of 2017, “The Current War” was scheduled for a worldwide release in December of that same year. However, the #MeToo movement unveiling multiple instances of sexual harassment perpetrated by Weinstein led to the swift fall of the entertainment tycoon, and his renowned company went down with him.
“The Current War” was thus stuck in a rare state of pre-release limbo, with its primary distribution company all but vanishing before it could hit screens across the globe. While Gomez-Rejon could have taken this opportunity to bury the past and try to forget about the film’s initial failure, he instead decided to make the most of his unique situation. With Weinstein out of the picture, he resolved to reshoot and re-edit “The Current War” to fit his original vision.
With #MeToo chucking Weinstein out, Gomez-Rejon’s Original Vision is In: A Compelling Story that Does Justice to its Historical Roots
Two years after production first wrapped on “The Current War,” Gomez-Rejon was able to get all of the primary actors back on set in London to help him recreate his cut of the film. The new version includes additional scenes that did not make it past development under Weinstein’s control. Likewise, it refocuses the film as a character-based story rather than a jargony historical drama.
Narratively, “The Current War” is about the notorious rivalry between radical inventors Thomas Edison (Cumberbatch) and George Westinghouse (Shannon) at the end of the nineteenth century. In the movie’s dramatization of true events, the two visionary minds compete for the honor of lighting the 1893 Chicago’s Worlds Fair, Edison relying on the Direct Current system for electric light and Westinghouse committed to the Alternating Current system. Also featured in the movie will be historical figures such as inventor Nicola Tesla (Hoult), businessmen Samuel Insull (Holland) and J.P Morgan (Matthew Macfadyen), and spouses Mary Edison (Tuppence Middleton) and Marguerite Westinghouse (Katherine Waterston).
The new director’s cut will retain the bones of the same story, but it will tell that story in a way that Gomez-Rejon sees fitting and just. This is why distinctly adding “Directors Cut” to the title, rather than just putting it as an afterthought, is so important. By specifically calling the project “The Current War: Director’s Cut,” Gomez-Rejon is rebranding the film as something separate from the infamous picture that aired at Toronto in 2017.
Of course, this cut would not be possible without a few powerful allies in Gomez-Rejon’s corner. 101 Studio bought the film’s rights in April, promising to spearhead its wide release. Likewise, long time electricity buff, Timur Bekmambetov, director of “Ben-Hur,” “Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter,” and “Wanted,” stepped in to help Gomez-Rejon finance the reshoots.
‘The Director’s’ Allies helped make the ‘Cut’, especially Martin Scorsese who Saved the Day
The most prestigious help came from none other than Martin Scorsese, who took over as an executive producer in the wake of Weinstein’s downfall. Unlike Weinstein, though, Scorsese took a hands-off approach to the project, helping out when needed, but letting Gomez-Rejon follow his own path. A director himself, Scorsese had respect for the creative process and did not overstep with his authority as producer.
A few lucky viewers have already attended pre-screenings for “The Current War: Director’s Cut” and the verdict has been positive. Most say that the new version vastly exceeds the quality of its predecessor. So rest easy filmgoers, historians, and electricity connoisseurs, for the story of Edison and Westinghouse may finally be told with justice, and regardless of critical reception altogether, Alfonso Gomez-Rejon will be able to continue his career knowing that “The Current War” exists the way he wants it to.
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