Steve Jobs revolutionised 21st-century business and shaped our digital age. Two films out this autumn remind us of the dazzling genius – and occasional megalomania – of the Apple founder
Death is very likely the single best invention of life.” So said Steve Jobs in a poignant address to California’s Stanford University in 2005. It’s been four years this month since the Apple tycoon died aged 56 after a battle with pancreatic cancer.
But his posthumous influence is abundantly apparent, whether it’s the ubiquity of the iPhone, never-ending personal lionisation (he’s become a ‘Disney Legend’, a US postage stamp and deified in China) or the success of Apple – named this year as the most profitable company in history with $178bn (£116bn) in the bank.
Two new films aim to deliver an accurate portrayal of the leader who, according to internet inventor Tim Berners-Lee, made “computing usable rather than infuriating”.
Danny Boyle’s Steve Jobs features Michael Fassbender as the eponymous entrepreneur. Scripted by The West Wing creator Aaron Sorkin, the biopic focuses on three Apple product launches spanning 16 years, finishing with 1998’s iMac, a period when the company flirted with bankruptcy.
Also starring Seth Rogen as Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak and Kate Winslet as marketing chief Joanna Hoffman, the film depicts a “complex and contradictory character” who denied paternity of daughter Lisa and created stressful work environments. (Watch the Steve Jobs trailer below.)
This ruthless side of Jobs is examined further in Alex Gibney’s documentary Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine, which touches on Apple’s use of cheap Chinese labour (a 2011 China Labour Watch report found Apple paid just £3.99 to produce a £600 iPhone).
Both films suggest Jobs’ greatest invention may not be his range of iProducts but his personal cult. After all, not everybody can become the world’s most famous entrepreneur while wearing anonymous black turtlenecks.
Steve Jobs will be shown at the BFI London Film Festival on 18 October and is on release from 13 November
Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine: watch the trailer below