By Dana Gerber
Near the end of the documentary “Augmented,” Jim Ewing slips on a bionic foot. Ewing, who had recently had one of his feet amputated, wiggles around the prosthetic, able to control it seamlessly. “It feels like there’s a foot there,” he says, unable to hide his astonishment.
“Augmented,” which charts the surgical and technological innovations behind Ewing’s groundbreaking below-the-knee amputation, is not short on these open-mouthed moments. Everything about his operation and subsequent treatment was unprecedented — the below-the-knee procedure was named the Ewing amputation, as the now-58-year-old was the first to undergo it, and the first amputee to test out the cutting-edge prosthetic.
“To be able to witness Jim control the robotic device with his brain . . . we knew that we had something that would make for a good narrative story,” said Matthew Orr, the film’s director. “The film really does try to strike a balance between pushing a narrative story but also being true to the science and letting the science shine.”