The biopic Jobs begins with a side of the tech genius most people are familiar with – his lanky figure, clothed in trademark jeans and black turtleneck, standing in front of a packed auditorium and casually announcing, “… just one more thing.” It’s the 2000 launch of the iPod and this ‘one more thing’ will be the first of a string of devices that will change the way people interact with technology. Computers will become personal, supportive servants – everything it seems that Steve Jobs was not.
The focus shifts quickly to 1974 where we’re introduced to Ashton Kutcher as Jobs the college dropout … then Jobs the disgruntled Atari employee … finally Jobs the entrepreneur, building a company in his parents’ garage. But all the time he’s identified as something more than just a technologist. Steve Jobs is the herald of a new age. He wants to do more than create something new or even profitable. Whatever it is, he tells his co-workers, it must be extraordinary:
“In your life you only get to do so many things and right now we’re doing this. So lets do it great.”
The rest of the film examines this tension between Jobs’ vision and what he’s prepared to sacrifice to see it come to fruition. It’s not the most flattering picture and I’m certain this film will upset those who’ve helped put Apple’s co-founder on his pedestal. It’s not his insight or his success that comes to into question but the nature of Jobs’ commitment. His determination is so absolute that he is prepared to turn his back on the girl he gets pregnant, deceive and manipulate co-workers, abandon long-standing friendships, bully employees, ruin companies.
Jobs shows us a man who is clearly trying to give the world something beautiful, but doesn’t see the people who will use his products, or those who will build them as all that valuable. Steve ‘Woz’ Wozniak, the engineering friend who made his dreams possible, warns Jobs as he walks out the door:
“It’s not about people any more for you, it’s about the product. You’re the beginning and end of your world. But it’s got to be lonely.”
There is a great deal of guff written about greatness and how it demands the whole-hearted commitment of those who aspire to it. For such, Steve Jobs is something of a prophet. According to Kutcher’s character, the secret to succeeding is realizing that you have every right to do so:
“Everything around you that you call life was made up by people no smarter than you and once you realise that you can change anything.”
But how deep, how gratifying, how long-lasting is that transformation? Jobs as a character seems to have remained deeply unsatisfied and driven to the end. And though this might have led to worldwide fame – as long-lasting as an iPod! – it can’t have lead to eternal satisfaction. The early stages of this film show Jobs motivated by a guru who tells him there is only this life to live. But Jesus taught His disciples that this world was only the foyer to real life. Future greatness will rise from how we treat people in the present:
“Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
On the last day there will be no separating our highpoints from the people God puts in our path. Jobs reminds us that it’s possible to be a commercial success and a spiritual failure.
Release Date: August 29, 2013