Posted by: annagaynor | February 26, 2010

Review: ‘The Inventions of Dr. NakaMats’

What’s remarkable about Dr. NakaMats isn’t that he has 3,357 inventions or that he’s one of the 12 highest paid public speakers in the world. The story behind “The Inventions of Dr. NakaMats” has very little do to with his creations at all.

The film begins weeks before NakaMats’s 80th birthday, when he will be unveiling his latest invention. Many of his ideas are gimmicky, such as “Dr. NakaMats’s Brain Drink” or “Love Jet,” but NakaMats’s most well known invention, the floppy disk, has been immortalized on his gate. Its when we see its door in the shape of disk with Dr. NakaMats’s name proudly above it, do we first begin to realize this is no ordinary scientist.

Part way through the film, NakaMats demonstrates how he finds his inspiration. The location is not at his desk, but rather in the strangest of places, the bottom of a pool. NakaMats goes swimming and actually attempts to simulate the experience of drowning to increase his brain function. While underwater, he writes furiously on a notepad to capture his thoughts in case he forgets. To help with the process, he invented a notebook with paper that could be used underwater.

As eccentric as NakaMats is, it is also apparent that he is a serious scientist. In 2005, he won a Nobel Prize in nutritional sciences for photographing and analyzing his meals for the 34 years. During a tour of his home, he proudly points out which items he has invented. Many of them are far from trite. A  stronger glass for his dining room table and light bulbs that emit 30 percent less CO2 are some examples.

However, when two aspiring entrepreneurs visit him, the scene plays like a clip from “The Godfather.” NakaMats sits behind a desk while two adult men sheepishly pitch their hopes of purchasing his bike cab that runs on water. He becomes horribly offended when the two men suggest purchasing one of his revolutionary inventions for half price. After profuse apologizing, the two men receive forgiveness from an indignant NakaMats and are allowed to see the vehicle.

It becomes apparent that NakaMats is a proud man who is even prouder of his inventions. Often when he is speaking to the camera it reads closer to a sales pitch than an interview.

While NakaMats spends much of the film selling his creations as well as himself, director, Kaspar Astrup Schroder, laces the film with quiet and revealing moments. Whether it be napping in the car or visiting his mother’s grave, Schroder allows the audience to glimpse at the man behind the façade.

The film focuses on the man more than his legacy. Not much time is spent dwelling on NakaMats’s position in the scientific community or how successful he is as an inventor. Schroder has presented a profile of a man with eccentricities and flaws but a brilliant mind as well.

Other Showings for “The Inventions of Dr. NakaMats”:

Friday, Feb. 26 / 9:30 p.m. / Windsor Cinema
Saturday, Feb. 27 / 3:30 p.m. / The Blue Note


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