Oscar winner Alex Gibney’s documentary about Steve Jobs. The film debuts at SXSW this month.
Sometimes I lose count of the movies about Steve Jobs but I’m pretty sure this one wasn’t on my radar until recently. Premiering at SXSW today is “Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine”, a documentary funded by CNN and directed by Alex Gibney, who is just off releasing a controversial Scientology exposé “Going Clear”.
Alex Gibney is one of America’s pre-eminent filmmakers. He won an Oscar for Taxi to the Dark Side and was nominated for Enron:The Smartest Guys in the Room. Most recently Mea Maxima Culpa:Silence in the House of God won three Emmys and a Peabody. This spring Going Clear:Scientology and the Prison of Belief and a Sinatra doc miniseries airs on HBO.
Update: notes from the film, which we can now confirm doesn’t cast a good light on the Apple founder follow. According to the Hollywood Reporter, Apple Employees who attended the film walked out:
Radio Silence From Jobs’ Widow, Apple
Jobs’ widow, Laurene Powell agreed to be interviewed for the film before ultimately pulling out. Apple, whose board declined participation, saying, “We don’t have the resources to help you on this project.
Getting Tipsy at Those Apple Events
When the original iPhone presentation was over, Apple’s design group went on a celebratory “shit-show” bender through the streets of San Francisco.
The First Apple Computer Was Almost Called “Claire”
According to the film, Jobs had wanted to call his first computer “the Apple Claire,” and was hoping his daughter could take than name, too. When she ended up with the name Lisa, he changed his computer accordingly.
Jobs’ cruelty regarding Chrisann and Lisa is highlighted in the film. You learn that he had lied in a sworn testimony, falsely claiming Brennan had multiple sex partners and that he was sterile and could therefore not be Lisa’s father. Only after a paternity test proved that he was did he finally accept responsibility. And though Apple went public in 1980, increasing Jobs’ net worth from $20 million to $200 million, he agreed to pay Brennan just $500 per month in child support.
The High Price of Loyalty
The most emotional moment of the film comes when Bob Belleville, the director of engineering on Apple’s game-changing Macintosh from 1982 to 1985, breaks down on camera as he reads a note he wrote following Jobs’ death. Belleville has a complicated relationship with his former boss – part adulation, part deep-seated resentment – and blames the cutthroat culture at the company for destroying his marriage.
Gizmodo and the iPhone 4
The film spends a significant amount of time revisiting the time when Jobs went to war with Gizmodo, after the tech website had gotten its hands on a prototype of an iPhone 4 that an Apple employee had carelessly left at a bar. All the key figures are interviewed, including editor Jason Chen, whose home was forcibly entered and computers seized by Silicon Valley police, and Nick Denton, who approved a payment of $5,000 for the phone. Jobs, who pledged not to stop until Gizmodo’s editors were in jail, died one year later.