Torn between Genius and Insanity

Steve Jobs


Tea: Rooibos Ginger


The creator of your favourite enslaving black squares is portrayed in a movie by the writer of The Social Network. And all of that is directed by Danny Boyle, a man with an amazing track record. This is not a two hour Apple commercial like a certain other movie about this man. This is a depiction of three life instances of a man that was equal (maybe not equal) parts visionary and insane. So let us see whether Steve Jobs can portray this almost historical figure in a new and interesting light or of it inevitable falls apart by the end.

The movie spans three signature presentations in Steve Jobs’ life. The unveiling of the Macintosh, his own revenge product NeXT, and finally the iMac. A genius decision right from the start is the set-up of these presentations. The story takes place exclusively before them and we never get to see the actual event take place. This might come across as an artificial raising of the stakes and it one instance it certainly was. But it also paints a great picture of people behaving in stressful situations with the clock constantly ticking down in the background. Steve’s life is basically split between his relation to Apple and his daughter (or not-daughter as he frequently claims) Lisa. Booth of these conflicts often intertwine and make for an interesting perspective on the life of the man. Do not be confused: This is not a traditional biographical picture. You will never get to see the creation of the future (as he calls it) in a garage or the presentation of the iPhone. Simply the life of Steve Jobs in these three moments.


– A man with a vision, but also a man that made everyone around miserable – 

The casting was top-notch as one would expect. Michael Fassbender plays Steve Jobs and does a phenomenal job (‘Job’, haha…) at it. Some people have criticised his performance simply on the basis that “he does not look like Steve”. Which wins the award for most far-fetched criticism in a while. Firstly, simply because it is absolutely irrelevant to the performance. And secondly, because anyone with a turtleneck sweater and unframed glasses looks somewhat like Steve Jobs so it is absolutely uncalled for. The supporting cast is also expertly picked with Kate Winslet giving a great performance as his personal assistant. I would call out the movie for painting Wozniak, Steve’s old friend and partner, a bit too nerdy with the neck-beard and thick rimmed glasses simply to draw a striking visual contrast between the two, but since the guy actually looked like that I can’t blame them.


– Michael Fassbender IS Steve Jobs in this movie, no matter the looks –

My biggest question after the movie was: Who is this for? Which is seriously hard to answer. Hardcore Apple-fanboys wouldn’t want to shake of their blinkers for two seconds and realise that their idol maybe wasn’t such a loveable person after all. And the people that are already critical about Steve Jobs (maybe 1% of the entire population) just feel their dislike reinvigorated. So that leads me to conclude that this picture is best suited for people that simply want to watch a capturing movie. And it certainly delivers in that department. That is not to say the aforementioned two other factions cannot enjoy this movie. The film pays equal respect to Jobs’ genius as well as his insanity so both should get their money’s worth.

The movie seems rather unbiased in its portrayal of everything. Be it the people or products surrounding Apple. It does not shy away to say that these plastic paperweights sold Millions, but at the same time also freely voices that the people won’t need it in any way, but will still want to buy it. There is a rather hilarious moment that I could help but smile at, keeping the recent unveil of Apple Pencil in mind. As there is a scene in which Steve Jobs openly declares pencils to be a horrible move, since you throw away the entire potential of five working fingers. But it just goes to show what a company without its innovator is by the end. Nothing but a factory that produces the same signifier for wealth and superficiality every year and gleefully demands your money with outstretched hands. And like a zombie horde the people shuffle into the stores with the white fruit on top and open their wallets wide to buy another piece of accessory no more useful than a shiny ring around the finger while praising technical innovation and progress. But this should not turn into a rant about this empty shell of a company so let’s get back to the movie.


– A reflective moment (quite literally) –

Steve Jobs is an outstandingly written and played biographical picture about a man who was determined enough to stay stubborn until his will was finally recognized. Just like the iPhone Steve’s attitude towards technology never change. He wanted the Macintosh to be inaccessible to others and look where we are now. It just goes to show how far determination can get you in life. You can love him or hate and will find arguments to support both of these sides in the movie. Whether he was a monster or a human is hard to decide. There are some really well implemented moments of struggle between these two facades of his self that is both well played as well as expertly visualised on screen. The strongest aspect is definitely the dialogue in these kinds of movies and every line is nailed perfectly. Be it the written or performed version. In the end this is the story of a man – not a company as some might have mistakenly concluded – and three decisive moments in his life. The moments of personal insight are the highlight of this movie and they just keep coming. It is a great movie neither for Apple fans or haters, but simply people who enjoy a well-played and written movie.


(Not written on a Mac)


Image sources in order of appearance:


2 thoughts on “Torn between Genius and Insanity

  1. Biographical portraits seem to be all the rage at the moment but I can´t say that I share this enthusiasm. Plus, I couldn´t tell the difference between a Macintosh and another computer if you hit me with it, so that is that.
    I really like Michael Fassbender, though.


    • Well, the movie certainly delivers in the Michael-Fassbender-department. There is hardly a scene he isn’t in. So you can at least watch it for that I suppose. And there is some really good dialogue thrown in as an added bonus.


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