I wrote a piece about Alex Gibney’s latest documentary, Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine, for GOOD Magazine.
The film is by no means a comprehensive portrait of Jobs, though it features a number of interesting new interviews with those close to him, like the aforementioned [Chrisann] Brennan, iPod chief Jon Rubinstein, and Macintosh engineering head Bob Belleville. […] Mostly though, it seems Gibney set out to make a negative portrait of Jobs, and he succeeds.
Audiences who know little about Jobs are certainly in for a shock. I heard plenty of gasps among the SXSW audience I watched the film with.
While I believe Gibney made this film to better understand his relationship with the technology that has conquered the world, I think he’s a bit cagey in his narration about how deliberately unsavory his portrayal of Jobs is. This is not a flat out biography. I’m not sure I’d call it a hit piece either, but it comes very close.
That said: it’s all true. Jobs had a very dark side that was never quite hidden, but surely overshadowed by his incredible successes.
I’m not sure why now, but the legacy of Jobs seems to be coming more to the fore this year. Besides Man in the Machine, which has been picked up by Magnolia Pictures and will probably see a release sometime this year, just this week we saw the release of Brent Schlender and Rick Tetzeli’s Becoming Steve Jobs: The Evolution of a Reckless Upstart into a Visionary Leader.1 That latest unauthorized biography of Jobs has been met with praise so far by the Mac blogging community and even Apple itself.
I haven’t read it yet, so I can’t speak to whether it looks at Jobs through rose-colored glasses (whereas Gibney’s glasses would be more ashen) or if it truly is a comprehensive investigation into Jobs’s life. If I had to guess, Man in the Machine will fade, just as the scandals rehashed in it have done over the years.