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Four takeaways from 'Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine'

Leah Yamshon | Sept. 7, 2015
While Danny Boyle’s biopic Steve Jobs plays at the Telluride Film Festival last weekend, reviews are coming out for the wider release of the Alex Gibney–directed documentary Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine.

steve jobs man in the machine

While Danny Boyle’s biopic Steve Jobs plays at the Telluride Film Festival last weekend, reviews are coming out for the wider release of the Alex Gibney–directed documentary Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine. The A.V. Club calls it “sensationalistic,” while the Los Angeles Times found it “engrossing” and “unsparing.”, and the New York Times says “this isn’t the iPhone of documentaries.” The movie opens last Sept. 4—find showtimes in your area on Fandango.

But we already saw it—Macworld’s Leah Yamshon got to view Steve Jobs: Man in the Machine back in March at SXSW. Her impressions are below (originally published here March 17), and she penned an interview with Gibney as well. Are you planning to see this movie, that even the director acknowledges Apple fans may not like? Let us know in the comments.

AUSTIN—By this point, there isn’t much we don’t know about Steve Jobs and his story, but that didn’t stop filmmaker Alex Gibney from tackling Jobs as the subject of his latest documentary. And, spoiler alert, it shows off the ugly side of Jobs, painting an unflattering picture of tech’s most famous visionary.

Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine premiered during South by Southwest on Saturday, telling the story of Jobs through archival footage and new interviews with former friends and colleagues. This isn’t a strict cradle-to-grave documentary about Jobs’ entire life story: It’s more of an analytical look at Jobs and his troubled relationships and values, both in his work with Apple and in his personal life (and in the overlaps too). 

Gibney, who also narrates the film, sets out to discover why people mourned Jobs so intensely when he passed—what it was about Steve that resonated so deeply with the public. The film starts us off with Jobs’ death in October 2011, before jumping back to his earlier days.

What the film lacked in eye-opening content, it made up for in perspective, and asks the audience to think critically about the connections we’ve forged with our Apple devices and what that means for human connectivity.

Without revealing too much—Magnolia Pictures picked up the film for a wider distribution, so you’ll get a chance to see it sometime soon—here are four standout takeaways from the film.

Apple wasn’t officially involved in the project

Gibney reached out to Jobs’ widow Laurene Powell Jobs and representatives at Apple, and both declined to be interviewed. According to Gibney, Apple declined because the company “didn’t have any resources available” for the project.

So far, the reactions coming out from Apple have been unfavorable. Rumor has it that Apple employees walked out of the screening (I noticed people leaving during a segment about Gizmodo and the leaked iPhone debacle, but it wasn’t a huge number, and I have no idea if they worked for Apple or not), and Eddy Cue, Apple’s senior vice president of internet software and services, called the film “inaccurate and mean-spirited.”