Speaking in the vernacular, it would be safe for me to say that an Apple a day has animated my life, and I don’t mean the type of fruit highly regarded as keeping doctors away. It’s all about the ‘art of computers’.
American information technology entrepreneur, inventor and futurist Steven “Steve” Paul Jobs (1955-2011) was co-founder, chairman and CEO of Apple Inc., one of the world’s most globally successful companies. He was it seems, also a man who micro managed everything, a personal trait that drove many people around him at many points in their lifetime working for, or with him, to distraction.
Steve Jobs the movie directed by Danny Boyle now showing at Palace Cinemas in Australia reveals this aspect of his nature; in a high-octane portrait by award winning Irish born actor Michael Fassbender; a giant portrayal of the man many believed was a genius.
Widely recognised as a pioneer in the revolution of the microcomputer during the 1970’s, Steve Jobs became renowned for his passion for perfection.
His official biographer Walter Isaacson described Steve Jobs as ‘… the man who revolutionized six industries: personal computers, animated movies, music, phones, tablet computing and digital publishing’.
He certainly daily loomed large in the life of my family, as we embraced the technology attached to the ‘Apple’ brand with alacrity.
You could say we are a quintessential iFamily – owners of iPhones, iPods, iPads, iMac laptops and computers.
We use them constantly; both professionally and personally, and they aid and enhance our life’s journey.
Why, well because Steve Jobs made sure they were simple to use. It’s not that we have not used the other system, we have, ending up choosing the design that works the best for us.
Steve Jobs declared he admired simplicity, which he believed was far harder to achieve than complexity. Must say as an old ‘designer’, that I agree with him on that score.
Jobs said “You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there you can move mountains.”
Producing a machine that computed was not a new idea; gifted British mathematician, logician and ‘code breaker’ Alan Mathison Turing FRS OBE (1912-1954), invented a ‘computer’ when decoding Nazi Germany’s ‘enigma code’ for British intelligence during World War II.
In 1954 Turing was found dead from cyanide poisoning, a half-eaten apple by the side of his bed.
Some years later co-incidentally, Steve Jobs chose a rainbow coloured Apple with a bite taken out of it as a logo for the new company that he and his High School friend and engineering and programming genius Steve Wozniak were starting together in his parents’ garage; Apple Computer, Inc.
Steve Jobs became a giant in his field, someone with the ability to see in his minds eye, a whole ‘orchestra’ and how to best play it. He was a long term visionary with an intuitive ability that enabled him to produce an exceptional result for both his audience and the players.
Jobs said “… be a yardstick of quality. Some people aren’t used to an environment where excellence is expected”.
Excellence on every level is what we receive from Irish born actor Michael Fassbender in this title role. He is indeed the magician or maestro of this piece, his performance exceptional as he delivers writer Aaron Sorkin’s incredibly wordy screenplay.
He engages both our mind and heart as the man who believes that he ‘is poorly made’.
Like an artist working with a blank canvas however, Sorkin produces an image of man that led others forward into a realm that exceeded all their own expectations.
We encounter Jobs on three evenings behind the scenes in dressing rooms, rehearsal spaces and backstage before he introduces the world to the Macintosh (1984), the NeXT (1988) and the iMac (1998). These are all events many people remember well.
Starting on stage in the event venue with a 2600 seat house, which in 40 minutes will be filled to capacity, we find ourselves first at the launch of the Mac. Steve Jobs (Michael Fassbender), Joanna Hoffman (Kate Winslet) and Andy Hertzfeld (Michael Stuhlbarg), all in their late- 20’s-early 30’s, are in the middle of a ‘confidential’ conversation.
Jobs has just discovered the computer he’s about to launch is ‘not gonna say ‘Hello’ as requested or as he knows his fans will expect, or that the exit signs are not going to go off for a few seconds, giving him a full blackout so he can achieve the greatest effect.
While everyone around him offers him excuses, he will not bow down to their pressure and tells them all to simply ‘fix it’. He wants them to accept their responsibilities, as much as he does his own.
Kate Winslet is a class act as Steve Job’s marketing guru Joanna Hoffman and somewhat personal assistant. No wonder she won the Golden Globe. Absolutely love the way Kate inhabits any role, a quality now defining her own brilliant career.
In this as Hoffman she has to match Steve’s feisty attitude on a day to day and hour to hour basis, and you can only wonder at how she kept it up as long as she did. Joanna once won a satirical award at Apple given to “the person who did the best job of standing up to Jobs”.
Actors Jeff Daniels as John Sculley, Seth Rogen as Steve Wozniak, Michael Stuhlbarg as Andy Hertzfeld, Katherine Waterston as Chrisann Brennan, Sarah Snook as Andrea Cunningham and Perla Haney-Jardine, Ripley Sobo and Makenzie Moss all as Lisa at different ages, have vital roles to play well, which they all achieve convincingly.
Life for us all is about our ‘attitude’ of mind. Whether rejected or chosen computer guru Steve Jobs knew that it is all about design and how it works.
While Steve Jobs couldn’t perfect himself, he could try to perfect his computers, ignoring excuses and not wanting anyone around him to accept failure.
Writer Aaron Sorkin has a true talent for producing and polishing other people’s scripts. However the one produced for this movie, while in itself is exceptional in a writing sense, has many people who knew Jobs bristling with indignation by the way he is portrayed.
They seem to think there are not enough positives to balance the negatives, but I must say I didn’t find that the case.
How do we in retrospect, access the mind of someone as brilliant as Steve Jobs without bringing something of our own selves to the table. And, how do you capture the essence of that person for only a two hour meant to be informative and entertaining event?
In the great scheme of things Steve Jobs was an inspiring leader of the ‘free world’ and an uplifting influence on millions of people, a fact that is indisputable. And, he entertained his customers, particularly during the last decade of his life.
What we do know is that Steve Jobs was a ‘big picture’ personality, one with an uncanny ability to interpret what people want and then give it to them long before they knew they wanted it at all.
Despite Steven Jobs flaws, which seem to have been many, we should ask ourselves is he any different than the rest of us?
He was a man, who according to Sorkin, had to learn how to love himself first before he could feel and demonstrate any affection for others.
His initial hostile attitude to his daughter Lisa, born out of wedlock to his school sweetheart Chrisann, whom he initially rejects as his own, highlights his own feelings of abandonment by his natural parents to be adopted.
Jobs has to come to terms with accepting the fact he was selected by them, not rejected by his birth mother, so that he can begin to strengthen his relationship with Lisa as a teenager.
After all it’s her world that he is transforming and he would enjoy to have her respect.
Sorkin based his ‘manically entertaining’ script on endeavouring to decode a character of great complexity, which we all know is in many ways an impossible task.
Taking license in the name of creativity, is what it is all about.
“Creativity is just connecting things,” Jobs once wisely said.
“When you ask creative people how they did something they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something… and were… able to connect experiences they’ve had and synthesize new things”.
The film is about helping others to connect the dots and see this man for what he was, a giant in his field and one who certainly earned all our respect and admiration.
It’s nothing to do with his behaviour traits, but has everything to do with his outstanding achievements overall in life.
Steve Jobs observed that “You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.
You have to trust in something – your gut, destiny, life, and karma, whatever, this approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life”.
My son taught me how to use an Apple computer when he was 16 and in those days thankfully they were much slower than now, and so I could take my time in the learning, which has never stopped.
As an old 120 words a minute typist back in the day, now they are faster I can keep up with them, the challenge being how long that will last as I race against the ageing process while I keep expanding my own learning experiences.
Born at the right time to be at the cutting edge of the computer revolution as it happened around the world, my son still has his ‘Macintosh Classic today. Throwing it out is not an option.
Truly, I found this movie compelling; I do enjoy an intelligently worded script and that is something we can rely on to be delivered by Sorkin, one of Hollywood’s proven award winning best writers for the silver screen.
What I didn’t take away from this movie is that it was meant to be a ‘blow by blow’ perfect reincarnation of the mighty man himself.
Instead it was meant to provide me with an overall sense of what was required for Steve Jobs to succeed on a global scale, and inform me just how much personal sacrifice is involved for anyone to achieve at such a level. Under his wise direction Apple Inc., became the number one company in the world.
Steve Jobs certainly made a great deal of difference to my life and this movie about his was for me, an enthralling experience.
4.5 out of 5
Carolyn McDowall, The Culture Concept Circle, 2016
Watch the Trailer
Watch Arthur C. Clarke Predicting the Internet
Academy Award® winner Danny Boyle
Academy Award® winner Aaron Sorkin, working from Walter Isaacson’s best-selling biography of the Apple founder.
Cast: Michael Fassbender, Kate Winslet, Seth Rogen, Jeff Daniels, Katherine Waterston, Michael Stuhlbarg