Award-winning filmmaker Alex Gibney has always been about uncovering the truth behind the subjects of his documentaries. Always blunt and always willing to get the inner workings of anything or anyone he chooses to spotlight instead of glorifying anything, it is with intense fervor that he showcases the former head of Apple in Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine in a balance, yet gray light and wonders why, in a world where so many people made famous by one thing or another, the world mourned Steve Jobs differently.
Steve Jobs was many things to many people: innovator, tech pioneer, manipulator, formidable, husband, father, friend, and enemy. And all these adjectives used to describe Jobs are brought to light in a way that the 2013 film Jobs, where Ashton Kutcher played the computer mogul, didn’t. Practically a living legend during his lifetime, Jobs founded Apple, Inc. in 1976 with Steve Wozniak and Ronald Wayne as a way to sell and innovate the personal computer, which at that point wasn’t something anyone had really paved the way to do. The film goes through the ups and downs of his professional and personal life up until his death in 2011.
Directed and narrated by Alex Gibney, The Man in the Machine (the narrative drama, titled Steve Jobs and starring Michael Fassbender will be out later this fall) does a wonderful job in the taking a road less traveled by when documenting a public figure. The film is thought-provoking and unabashed in both its obvious admiration of Jobs and the struggle to come to terms with the fact that he wasn’t always the most genial of men to work with or be around. The man was a workaholic and his work took precedent over everything else in his life. Jobs goes so far as to disavow his ex and daughter, making up rumors and claiming that he isn’t the father to his first-born Lisa (of which he later named a computer model after).
But within that man was also a pioneer who paved the way for the personal computer and of course later, the smart phone. So there are two sides of the coin: brilliance and brutality. Gibney explores whether or not the general public loved him personally or just the products Jobs and Apple made for them. And the film leans into the smoke that sometimes covers up people in their public personas that we often find ourselves ignoring because we “like” the person. Or what the person shows us. These questions and the depth of Gibney’s analytical take on Jobs as a person and businessman is what makes for a strong film. You’ll find yourself on both sides of the spectrum. One moment you’re hating Jobs and at another moment appreciating his brilliance and dedication to his craft and company.
Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine is an honest film about the life of Jobs. Using archive footage and interviewing the people who were closest to him, the film removes the rose-colored glasses to bring us the real man behind the technology that we are so very fond of today. It’s filled with firs-person accounts of unbelievable things that happened during the span of his life. Many of them aren’t very nice things and reflect the kind of man Jobs could be, versus the creative and work-obsessed guy that could be called too passionate. Gibney isn’t afraid to delve into Jobs’s darker side and the film is thankfully not praising Jobs and glossing over important knowledge that so many other documentaries can do. The film is irrevocable one of the strongest documentaries to come out this year.
Release Date: September 4, 2015 | Director and Screenwriter: Alex Gibney | Genre: Documentary | MPAA Rating: R for some language