“Newman” is a documentary about inventor Joseph Westley Newman and the greatest challenge of his life, the invention and worldwide implementation of the Newman Energy Machine, a direct current device which would use a small amount of electrical energy from a source like a battery and would then convert that into more energy, not less. This machine proved to be controversial due to these pesky things known as the laws of thermodynamics, as well as the extreme resistance from certain people to Mr. Newman’s claims that his machine worked.
Starting in the late 70s, a New Orleans based news crew heard about a dude living in the woods somewhere who claims to have invented this crazy machine. A reporter heads out there with a handful of professionals, with the goal of disproving this quack’s claims and hopefully getting a report good enough to play during the end of the year Christmas episode or something. Instead, this inventor, Joe Newman, turned all of this skeptics into believers. He showed them the machine, showed them his proof, and they were onboard. An engineer with the station even quit his job to go work with Joe Newman full time, that’s how much he believed, and before long Joe Newman was surrounded by scientists and engineers who believed in him and wanted to help. They got to the point where they just had to get a patent from the government so they could secure investors and they would be off and running in changing the world for the better.
Enter the Powers That Be.
A good portion of Joe Newman’s story is about his fight with the government, and “Newman” not only presents Joe as being right and his machine be authentic, but it also implies that there were bigger things going on, attempting to keep Joe Newman from seeing his dream come to fruition. And here’s an open-your-eyes-and-look-at-the-world-around-you spoiler, but do we have practically free energy, or are we still dependent on fossil fuels? Is Big Oil still a thing? Then you kind of know where this story goes.
But like knowing that the Titanic sinks at the end of the movie, this just brings more weight to the movie, as we see Joe Newman and his cohorts get so damned close to really changing the world in a wonderful and inspiring way. But even though we know that the boat will sink, we still root for it to complete its journey, and then we are still shocked at the final impact and result of this massive sinking. Joe Newman was a very compelling and interesting individual, his story is amazing, and this “Newman” documentary does an amazing job of presenting all of this in a very slick and polished way.
Enormously entertaining as well as hugely frustrating for multiple reasons, “Newman” is a fascinating documentary, and surely people who don’t even understand the nature of thermodynamics or the concept of perpetual motion machines will still find this portrait of a very singular and unique person as intriguing and worthwhile as anyone else.