Segments in this Video

The Genie in the Light Bulb: Introduction (03:38)


Over a billion people do not have access to electricity. This episode will examine the revolution that occurred when Hathine, a small village in Laos, receives electricity. in the evening, school children gather to do their homework by flashlight.

Access to Electrical Energy (04:54)

Kham Da describes the bombing of Laos during the Vietnam War. The village leader owns the only shop and permanent house in Hathine. Sengehoy believes electricity will help give his wife and children a better life; he hooks up a car battery to watch videos with his family.

Traditional Healing Ritual (02:46)

Village elders gather to heal a sick man. Khamchanune describes the positive merits of electricity.

Expedition to Hathine (03:43)

Engineers will travel from Vientiane to Phongsaly, to convince Communist Party Headquarters to allow them to install electricity in the village. The river is low and the team only has two boats to carry the equipment.

Introducing Electricity to Hathine (04:07)

Families need to make monthly contributions to pay for electricity. Men from the village and others nearby are selected to learn how to install and maintain the system. The next day, they learn about switches and circuits.

Installing Electricity (02:54)

Workers travel upriver to begin installing electricity. Villagers clear a path in the jungle and dig a tunnel to bring water to the turbine. A large plastic tarp is installed to accelerate water flow.

Bad Omen? (03:37)

Gunshots announce that three people died in Hathine. The villagers gather and discuss whether the arrival of electricity disturbed the forest spirits. The Council of Elders decides to allow work to continue but reduces the number of workers.

Pacifying the Spirits (03:48)

Da leaves offerings and performs a ritual. Teams build a structure for the turbine and cut down trees. Villagers string cable across the jungle to the site.

Installing the Turbine (02:33)

Planks will regulate the water flow that enters the turbine. After turning it on, Electricians without Borders realizes the water is not draining fast enough. Villagers dig a larger evacuation chamber.

Electrical Grid in Hattine (04:17)

Villagers celebrate their victory and hook their individual houses onto the grid. The circuit cannot accommodate all the lightbulbs being turned on at once.

Limited Electricity (03:58)

Villagers become frustrated when their homes are not installed with electricity. After singing the national anthem, the principal educates children on safety procedures surrounding electricity.

Three Months after Installation (03:26)

Villagers installed a second turbine to gain more electricity. Permanent structures and satellite antennas arise in Hathine. Khamfanh Dara hopes that a highway from China will travel through the village.

Negative Effects of Electricity (03:53)

Villagers bemoan the teenagers frequently listening to music. Sengehoy does not possess enough money to purchase a satellite. The headman and deputy charge villagers to watch television.

Looking Toward the Future (03:10)

A villager hopes her daughter will be educated and marry someone from a city. Khamchanone feels electricity will benefit the village. Da hopes for new construction jobs from the highway being built by China.

Credits: The Genie in the Light Bulb (00:37)

Credits: The Genie in the Light Bulb

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The Genie in the Light Bulb

DVD (Chaptered) Price: $169.95
DVD + 3-Year Streaming Price: $254.93
3-Year Streaming Price: $169.95



Today 1.6 million people live according to the rhythm of the sun, for they have no access to electricity. Their lifestyle is minimalist, ritualized; each individual keeps to his or her role. But people are struggling to change this situation. This film tells the story of the arrival of electricity in Hathine, a tiny, isolated village in the forbidden mountains of northern Laos—one of the last Communist countries in the world—on the borders of China and Vietnam. One sunny morning the village headman announces that electrical current will soon arrive. With it will come comfort, development, modernity, and wealth. Refrigerators will keep food fresh for longer. Children will do their homework under the streetlamps. The first shops strung with multi-coloured lights appear, and in them the first cold drinks that any villager has tasted. Electricity brings progress, unquestionably. But does that progress bring happiness?

Length: 52 minutes

Item#: BVL150259

ISBN: 978-1-64347-659-9

Copyright date: ©2012

Closed Captioned

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Not available to Home Video and Publisher customers.

Only available in USA and Canada.