Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine–Gibney’s Docu of Apple Genius

It’s a very good year for documentary filmmaker Alex Gibney.

In January, he showed at the Sundance Film Festival his Scientology chronicle, “Going Clear.”  which airs on HBO this month.

And this week, he is premiering at SXSW Film Fest, in Austin,another relevant documentary, one about the late Apple CEO Steve Jobs.  Gibney thinks that Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine will also be controversial.

He spent nearly three years on the project, which was financed by CNN Films, and interviewed 50 people who knew Jobs–but Apple didn’t participate.

Why Jobs?

After the Walter Isaacson book, I didn’t really want to do a paint-by-the-numbers biopic.  I was interested in his values, the idea that when he died, there was huge global outpouring of grief. People were weeping. I wanted to do a thing about Jobs, but I also wanted it to be about us.

I set out to do an impressionistic film, structured in a way like “Citizen Kane.”

Specific Goals?

His values. Jobs is a character who is very much influenced by the counterculture, and yet he ended up being the head of a company that’s the most valuable on Earth.  I wanted to see if he retained those counterculture values?

Critical Film?

There are critical elements that people haven’t seen about Jobs or have not understood. His character, and some of his corporate practices.

Is Jobs Likable Persona?

You come away with a far more complex interpretation. When I went into it, I thought that Jobs was an inventor. And I don’t really think he was an inventor now. I think he knew how to push people and he was a story teller, and he became a story teller for the computer age. But not all the stories that he told were true.

Apple’s Involvement?

They didn’t give us any help whatsoever. When we reached out to them, they were somewhat hostile. They are brutal. People love their products, but they can be a ruthless company.


It’s one of the things I explore. Yes, I do have an iPhone. I reflect on the irony of that, but I do love my iPhone beyond reason.  I’m no longer madly in love with my iPhone. It’s no longer blind faith.

Documentary as Form and Business?

The form has exploded.  Documentary filmmakers in the last 15 years have become such great storytellers.  Sometimes you see these movies and you can’t make this s–t up.  When it comes to an iconic figure like Steve Jobs, it’s hard to imagine no matter how good the writer, director and actor, someone playing him would better than Steve Jobs himself.

Ashton Kutcher’s movie?

I saw the film but I am not a fan.  I found it silly.  Ashton Kutcher looks like a young Steve Jobs, but beyond that, it wasn’t interesting to me.