Steve Jobs – Tech Genius or Arrogant Poser?

Who was Steve Jobs? Books, movies and documentaries have never been able to truly capture the unique complexity of Steve Jobs. Unfortunately the 2015 movie simply  titled Steve Jobs is no exception. That said, Steve Jobs is an extraordinary well made film, with superb performances by first rate actors.

The real Steve Jobs

The real Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs is structured as a play and could easily be converted to the theater.  It takes place in 3 acts with each one during a major product launch. Key figures from Steve’s past come back stage to have heart-wrenching, long discussions about life, just minutes before Steve has to go on stage to introduce the new product.

Michael Fassbender as Jobs and Seth Rogen as Wozniak

Michael Fassbender as Jobs and Seth Rogen as Wozniak

These conversations are dramatic and fascinating, until you realize that they are purely fictional.  They also tend to portray Jobs as a one-dimensional mean-spirited, nasty individual who will not listen to excellent advice from anyone. In real life, Jobs was stubborn and often cruel, but he also could be kind and generous. Jobs also certainly knew how to work with others in a team, and to take input from many different sources.

Apple's famous Super Bowl ad for The Macantosh

Apple’s famous Super Bowl ad for The Macontosh

Steve Jobs however, does explain well and in non-technical terms exactly why some of Job’s product ideas  were successes and other were complete failures. It also shows John Sculley (played by Jeff Daniels) in a much different light than most other stories about Apple. Even today most people think of John Sculley  as the idiot who made one of the biggest business blunders in history by firing Steve Jobs.

Michael Fassbender, Kate Winslet, Jeff Daniels, Seth Rogen

Michael Fassbender, Kate Winslet, Jeff Daniels, Seth Rogen

This film shows that the situation was much more complex and nuanced than that.  The Board of Directors actually got rid of Jobs, in a decision which does seem to make sense when the historical perspective is shown.  Jobs had risked everything on the Apple Macintosh, including a famous Super Bowl ad. After a huge financial gamble by Jobs, the  Macintosh turned out to be a product disaster.

Jobs and Wozniak in the beginning

Jobs and Wozniak in the beginning

Seth Rogan is great as Apple’s co-founder Steve Wozniak. People used to seeing Seth Rogan in comedy roles will see that he is also a very talented dramatic actor. Steve Wozniak himself liked Seth Rogan’s portrayal, but said that Jobs was far nicer and kinder than the film showed.

Kate Winslet plays Apple’s Joanna Hoffman, one of the few people Jobs will discuss his personal life with. Much of the movie focuses on the fact that Jobs refused to acknowledge his daughter Lisa was his. However, at the same time he provided for her financially and had a lot of contact with her.

Steve Jobs is an interesting film but leaves us dissatisfied. After watching it we felt that we had seen a well acted film  about a Hollywood version of Steve Jobs, without ever meeting the real man.

 

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