Thursday, November 5, 2009

A Flash of Idiocy

I just watched the movie "Flash of Genius", which tells the story of Dr. Robert Kearns, who was ripped off by Detroit, when they violated his patent for the intermittent windshield wiper. The movie portrays Kearns' "flash of genius" moment occurring when his Ford's wipers are moving too fast for the light rain, and creating that rubbing sound we all hate when the windshield surface is too dry.

Interestingly, the Wikipedia entry tells a slightly different story, claiming that "the constant movement of the wiper blades irritated his already troubled vision." This alludes to another aspect of the story, which was in the movie, where we find out that he popped a champagne cork in his eye on his wedding night, leaving him partially blind.

But fair enough, the movie acknowledges the fact that the genius of Kearns' invention was that it allowed wipers to be slowed down for use in light rain. What annoyed the hell out of me, though, was how they portrayed his testing of the invention in the movie. The sky opens up, and Kearns grabs his whole family to go for a ride. He switches on the intermittent wipers, and exclaims at how perfect it is. But he does this during an epic downpour, the precise situation when the intermittent setting is least effective. There's a camera shot out the windshield, and you can't see a damn thing, cause the wipers are going to slow. You can even see how hard it's raining in the movie poster.

Is it me, or did the director blow one of most important shots in the movie. When you have an ah-hah! moment, you've got to get it right. Were they too impatient to wait for the right amount of rain? Come on, Hollywood, Dr. Kearns is owed better.

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