Edison and Leo

Edison and Leo

Sponsored by: STM

Montreal Premiere

  • Canada 2008
  • 79 min
  • 35mm
  • English

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Director: Neil Burns
Screenplay: Daegan Fryklind, George Toles
Cast: Gregory Smith, Carly Pope, Powers Boothe, Jay Brazeau, Ashley Michaels
Producers: Dean English, Karen Powell, David Valleau
Distributor: TVA Films


It’s the early days of the new century, a new era even, and George T. Edison, in his palatial home-and-workshop compound on the Canadian Prairie, is at the crest of it. He’s a fabulously wealthy and brilliantly creative inventor, though he does have his flaws. A childhood accident has left him hearing through his teeth, for instance. Perhaps more consequentially, his rigorous dedication to technological perfection isn’t matched by ethical discipline, oh no. As much as he loves his magnificent wife, his eye wanders (and so does the rest of him). He’s stingy in his affections towards his sons, and his private hall is crammed with “collected” (meaning stolen) artifacts from across the globe. When all of these catch up with him, Edison is left with a dead and lamented wife, the enmity of the warrior women of the Pasana tribe, a purloined Book of Light in his illicit possession and a son, Leo, who can now touch no one without discharging deadly electricity. And from there unfolds the story of Leo—George T. Edison’s self-described “greatest invention.”

Canada's first stop-motion animated feature film is here, folks, and it’s an enjoyable, surprising chunk of steampunk fun, a revisionist, retro science-fiction thriller with a zesty dash of decidedly adult gags. On the animation front, it impresses immensely—its creators devised new stop-motion techniques, innovations worthy of George T. Edison himself, to ensure that this plucky little Canadian production could hold its own next to the big boys. Voice talents include Gregory Smith, Carly Pope and, as the larger-than-life but less-than-honourable Edison, Powers Boothe. It’s written by George Toles, longtime screenwriter for Guy Maddin—who else could make Manitoba seem like a realm of the amazing?—and he and co-scripter Daegan Fryklind cleverly flip the picture on the accepted history of the Great White North and the Great White Men Who Did Important Things Here.

—Rupert Bottenberg

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