Rube Goldberg in Various Media


Despite the fact that Rube Goldberg had tons of accomplishments during his lifetime, there are still people who are not familiar with him and his contributions. Still, more and more people are getting to know him through various websites, forums and blogs that feature Rube Goldberg machine competitions as well as some of similar machines featured in film, television and games. YouTube certainly has a rich variety of Rube Goldberg-inspired videos and coverage of competitions held in the cartoonist-engineer’s name.

Rube Goldberg has definitely made an impact. He had reaped several important awards, including the Pulitzer for editorial cartooning as well as some vital ones from the cartooning world, especially from the National Cartoonists Society. The society knows what to look for in a good cartoonist and therefore, recognizes Rube Goldberg’s worth. With the use of Rube Goldberg machines in different other media, however, the name of the cartoonist-engineer spreads beyond his usual world. More people find out more about the genius that is Rube Goldberg.


In films, Rube Goldberg machines have been used to create a sort of awe, horror and fun – depending on the film genre. These machines have created complexity when there really is none, as is the case with the Walshes’ gate in The Goonies. They produce a sense of fun such as in the ridiculousness of Ernest P. Worrel’s contraption in Ernest Goes to Jail. Animated film versions of Rube Goldberg machines take the setup further to horizons that have not yet been explored. The animated quality somehow lets the designers cheat a little when it comes to the physics. Rube Goldberg machines also suspend and prolong the horror and suspense, as in the case of the death traps in horror films such as the Saw series and the Final Destination series.


In television, Rube Goldberg has also been recognized through episodes that deal with the complexity of machines, fate and interactions. Powerful coincidences that set off desired events after a series of elaborate but smaller events also remind viewers of Rube Goldberg machines.


In games, the use of physics and simulation has become very popular. Players want to know how to play games that recreate what could happen in real life. Rube Goldberg machines have been designed with the use of Goldberg’s engineering knowledge. However, these machines also make use of a dash of humor and a degree of ridiculousness with their use of impossible parts, such as pterodactyls.


In music, the cartoonist-engineer has managed to inspire some rhythms based on the fast and quirky movements of his cartoons. The music that arises from a Rube Goldberg inspiration is also fit to become the background music for some great comedies.


In competitions that require participants to find new ways of tackling a task, the Rube Goldberg inspiration is obvious. It is good to see young people continuing the works of the late cartoonist. The best legacy, really, is to have other people continue your works for you. This way, you don’t really die but continue to live through other people’s works that have been inspired by your presence. Surely, Rube Goldberg would have been happy to know that many young people have taken interest in his works and in continuing them.


Whole exhibits display the life and works of Rube Goldberg and contemporary artists who had been inspired by him.


Did you know Rube Goldberg before reading about him here in this site? If you have and you are here because you are a fan, you could recommend this site or some books on him to friends and family. Books can help revive Rube Goldberg’s stellar days, reminding people about just how much he was able to contribute to cartooning during his lifetime. Books could also serve as pure entertainment. Of course, after having a go at one of the comic compilations, the reader may end up wondering: “Who is this Rube Goldberg? I want to know more about him.”

Finally Knowing Rube Goldberg

People want to know how cause and effect works, how objects interact with each other and how a chain of events can unfold. So, Rube Goldberg’s machines can definitely fit well into any type of media. If you are just discovering about who Rube Goldberg is then you might just be figuring out how you have enjoyed versions of his machines in film, television and games. Now that you know what his role is in those media examples, you can better appreciate what he was and is all about.

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