Did anyone really know Steve Jobs? Did he really know himself? Does anyone truthfully even know themselves? In as much as we mould our behaviours to the people around us, I’m pretty sure we present a certain edited view towards ourselves too, as Jobs did to the world. Life is a drama, where a lot of the time we are our own audience, particularly now when a few tech gadgets that have arrived box-fresh upon the world, and the iSelf was born. Friedrich Nietzsche is spinning like a Mac beachball in his grave.
This weeks ‘product’ launch is about the man who actually participated in the release of objects that changed the very world we live in, and in doing so became a product himself. Danny Boyle’s ‘Steve Jobs’ (2015), stunningly scripted by Aaron Sorkin (West Wing, The Newsroom) is no more a reality about an individual than the reality we present of our lives on Facebook. But it is absolutely one of the best dramas this year, if not for many years before.
It is essential to remember that it is a drama and not fact. There are facts coded within it, but even they might be taken aside for digital forensics to have a closer look. With the initial source being the Steve Jobs authorised biography by Walter Isaacson, Sorkin spent a year interviewing people in the life campus of Jobs to try and get a much more rounded, human figure. What is extremely apparent is that Jobs was no ordinary human, and didn’t seem to be a very nice one either (at least in the time frame of this movie). I’m no Apple fanboy, like millions I use their products (which I think have got worse with the loss of Steve), but I certainly don’t have the messianic perception of the man that many kowtow too. He was a human like us all. He was flawed like us all, and even though he went on to create the most successful company of all time, this movie does actually bring a human face to what is effectively a force of nature.
The movie deals with the earlier days of the Apple Age, pre 2000, laying the foundation for the empire that was to come. Many mistakes were made, the wrong decisions taken which resulted in some absolute failures, but in a very admirable trait, Jobs just got on with the next device development. He didn’t even dust himself off, he just kept going. Almost like a digital shark who has to keep moving or they’ll die. He absorbed his lessons, well at least in business, maybe not initially so much in life, and developed/focused his acumen into the next idea, seemingly a lot of the time to the detriment of those around him.
The script really is stunning. Sorkin has absolutely matched Jobs quest for the ultimate user experience. The finished product gleams with brilliance and wow factor in every line spoken. Of course no one ever speaks like this in real life, but that’s not the point, the search and aspiration for excellence is. He actually reminds me of Ayn Rands resilient character Howard Roark in The Fountainhead.
But it’s not just Sorkin that shines through, Danny Boyle has made a beautiful looking, deceptively simple movie. In the most wonderful way it feels like a Shakespearean stage play, where fittingly a lot of the scenes actually happen on, around or behind a stage before each launch. Artistic license spreads from the script onto the screen with projected footage in the background of a few scenes to add to the splendour, smoke and mirrors in the Court of Jobs.
All the cast also radiantly step up to the curtain call. Particularly Michael Fassbender as Jobs who is just fantastic, and equally so Kate Winslet as his loyal (extremely tolerant) assistant Joanna Hoffman. Also Katherine Waterston as Chrisann Brennan with whom Jobs had a daughter that he denied for many years and is the actual fragile beating heart of the movie. Basically everyone involved in the movie brings their ‘A’ game, and it’s a marvel to behold. Who would have thought a movie about computers (it’s not really though) and people talking about computers could be so exhilarating? Well clearly Danny Boyle and Aaron Sorkin, and my they were so right.
The movie isn’t an attack on the man either. He is deeply human, flawed yes, but none of us are in a position to cast the first mouse. As the movie deals with a very particular period in Jobs life, it ultimately does show redemption, or at least the concept of forthcoming atonement, as long as it’s portable and fits in your pocket. And after all, the biggest failure we all face, is not truly learning from our own failures.
Steve Jobs is out now.