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Published February 22nd 2016
The messianic visionary from hades
"You use Microsoft, you love your Mac."
That is an aphorism that millions of Mac owners would endorse wholeheartedly.
And the film Steve Jobs epitomises that ethos – presenting Jobs as he prepares for and presents with the brio and hype of an evangelistic campaign or a pop concert the launch of three of his products – the Macintosh in 1984, the NeXT in 1988 and the iMac in 1998.
Which means that, as the director Danny Boyle also wants to present a partial portrait of the strange, tormented, obsessive, socially inept man who was Steve Jobs, the back-stage world of the launches is full of operatic passions and confrontations – the mother of a child he refuses for a time to acknowledge, a business colleague whose contribution to Apple he chooses not to honour, a mentor who ends up estranged.
Here is a man who decides to launch a computer as a "closed system .. incompatible with anything else", a description which could also fit his own solipsistic world, in which he fights with equal vehemence for ideas which only he can see will work, and for notions which everyone else can see are doomed.
Here is a man who does not have the creative flair of many of his employees, but who does have a sense (not always infallibly) for what the public wants, and above all for marketing and presentation. Trying to explain this, he compares himself to a conductor, who himself plays no instrument, but "plays the orchestra".
Here is a man who, when seriously ill, initially refuses to use an oxygen mask, because its design offends him.
Fassbender is superb in presenting this messianic monster, almost impossible to get on with, whose single minded perfectionism gets results, at significant cost to himself and those around him.
Seth Rogen, as Apple co-founder Steve Wozniac, adds warmth and humanity to the film, as does Kate Winslet as the PA who stands up to Jobs, and tells him how it is. Both try as best they can to get him to relate to his daughter – and we see this beginning to happen, and, perhaps not so incidentally, giving birth to the iPod.
This tightly scripted, intensely directed film delivers a highly pressurised vision of a man who cannot relax, cannot easily relate, and who only occasionally seems to have some self knowledge of his flaws.