Grant Mitchell

There are some films that require you to live and grow up a little more before you can watch them and have them fully resonate with you.

For me, the 2015 Aaron Sorkin and Danny Boyle collaboration “Steve Jobs” is one of those films.

So much has been mythologized about Steve Jobs the person. From how some people viewed him, you could assume that he was able to walk on water and then turn it to wine if he wanted.

What “Steve Jobs” the film shows us, however, is a deeply flawed person trying to, as many of my friends and I say we’re doing in college, ‘fake it until you make it.’

And the first two of three distinctive acts of the film illustrate someone doing exactly that.

In the three acts of the film, each one is placed before a product announcement that Jobs is himself set to headline. The catch is that each one sees Jobs faced with personal and business adversity right before launch -- allowing us a glimpse into an embattled man’s life whom we have always been shown the best moments of.

The film opens at the debut and product announcement for the famed Apple Macintosh 128K. But there are a few problems: the computer doesn’t want to speak and say “hello” on que as designed, and Jobs’ ex-girlfriend and mother to the child he denies is his is also there asking for financial help.

It is in that difficult balancing of hats of business pressure and interpersonal conflict we are introduced to the real Steve Jobs.

He is a deeply flawed person. People at all levels of his life tell him he has a god complex. He is wickedly smart and often uses his intelligence to berate and belittle anyone for the slightest perceived infraction, and he is terrified of emotional vulnerability.

Throw in the fact that Apple has been a cultural phenomenon for over three decades and that Steve Jobs is himself a legend and you have a greater investment in seeing how Jobs’ weathers all of these simultaneous storms.

What I love about “Steve Jobs” is that we are able to feel the palpable tension that comes from both personal strife as well as the professional pressures that come from a product launch. And we are given front row seats to all of this without any of the mythologized versions we often saw of Steve Jobs when he was alive.

Stylistically, the film accomplishes keeping the Jobs character grounded by cutting each act off right before the launch of each product. Which further makes us feel like we’re watching the behind the scenes happenings of Jobs’ life.

Because if we are able to see Jobs at work doing what he does best, telling a story, then we won’t be able to separate him from what we’ve already been exposed to. And the filmmakers don’t want to let him off easy, they want us to take an unflinching look at the man behind the genius of Apple.

Even with all of the challenges he faces, Jobs never loses the appearance of control. He always maintains his power over each and every situation, often leaving us astonished at the abrasiveness of what he says.

But there is a rare quality to Jobs’ rationale with his force of nature persona when talking to people. That is his often coming down from the eye of his self-created storm to have a heartfelt and reasonable conversation with the people he values most in life.

The most powerful example of this comes from the third act with his disagreement and strained relationship with his daughter on full display.

It is in this final act which sees Jobs finally at the helm of a stable ship and delivering upon decades of potential. This is the Steve Jobs we remember, the man that could do no wrong and foul or strike out at none of his at-bats, only homeruns.

Yet for all of this maturation in Jobs, he still fails where it counts most, as a father.

It isn’t until he and his daughter have a heated exchange that Jobs sees the err in his ways and realizes he can’t manhandle the people he loves like he does the corporation and ingenious products he has molded.

And so, Jobs apologizes to his daughter and shows his soft underbelly. He shows his daughter how much she means to him and illustrates how interested and enthralled with her he always has been, much like us and the audiences at his events with his product launches.

His daughter tells him he will be late for his product launch, but he tells her it is his product to launch and the world will wait for him. But he doesn’t say this with arrogance, he means this in earnest, and he’s right.

But she insists and he ultimately does go, but first, he promises to put music in her pocket and hands her a piece of paper.

After Jobs departs for the stage, his daughter decides to watch the announcement from side stage, and we are given our only glimpse into the stardom of Steve Jobs.

As the presentation begins, lights of cameras in the audience flash in the bitch black auditorium, Steve’s daughter decides to open the paper, unveiling the first drawing she made on an Apple computer nearly 20 years prior.

Showing that for all the pigheaded nature of Jobs as well as ourselves, ultimately the things we love and value will always fill our hearts and force us to confront the areas in which we are lacking.

“Steve Jobs” is less about the person and more about the soul of the man and to remind us all not to forget what is important. Even if the whole world is watching and expecting perfection, don’t be afraid to fall because you can always pick yourself back up. 

Grant Mitchell is a junior majoring in public relations. He can be reached at gmitch16@vols.utk.edu.

Columns and letters of The Daily Beacon are the views of the individual and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Beacon or the Beacon's editorial staff.

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