Anyone who owns an iPhone will know the difficulty of keeping their technology up to date when Apple brings out a new version of the phone almost every year without fail. It seems now we have to cope with that in the movies too. While most of us have probably only just come to terms with Ashton Kutcher’s portrayal of Steve Jobs in 2013’s Jobs, as of November 13th, there will be a new biopic on the Apple founder.
Danny Boyle’s Steve Jobs opened early in America to mostly good reviews, and has been praised for being a very enthralling and entertaining film, but it has found itself mostly haunted by the news of how much Jobs’ widow has doggedly tried to stop the film being made.
She begged big stars Christian Bale and Leonardo diCaprio not to take the titular role when they were in the running, and often attempted to have production shut down in the early stages. Her reasons for doing so are obvious once you see that the movie mostly revolves around Jobs’ difficult relationship with his daughter Lisa. Even beyond that, the trailer clearly shows that the movie won’t contain a very positive portrayal of the Apple mogul.
An extra twist of the knife is obvious from the movie’s American release date: screenings began October 9th, just days after the anniversary of Steve Jobs’ death. Jony Ive, a close friend of Jobs, commented on the movie’s “perfectly timed” nature, saying that such a movie left “sons and daughters and widows and very close friends […] completely bemused and completely upset”.
To release a film that portrays the man so negatively and encroaches so much on difficulties on his personal life, at a time when many who were close to him would be mourning his recent passing seems insensitive at best.
Because that is the very fact that is so easy to forget: he was a real man, with real people who love him and have been deeply affected by his life and death. There has been a spate of biopics recently, with many claiming to be a celebration of the person’s life. With Jobs’ widow petitioning so tirelessly to have the film killed, however, can such an excuse really fly?
While for most of us Steve Jobs represents a couple of hours of entertainment in the cinema, for those who were close to the man it’s a legacy-defining portrayal of him, and many are not happy with it, claiming to not even recognise Michael Fassbender’s version of him.
Screenwriter Aaron Sorkin has admitted that the movie does not stick to real events, claiming it “is not meant to be a dramatic recreation of real events”. Many cinema-goers will not go so far to fact check though, meaning that this exaggerated and unflattering version of Steve Jobs will be accepted and remembered as reality – a slap in the face to those who knew and loved him.
Perhaps those affected will find comfort in the movie’s box office figures – the film launched in America as somewhat of a flop. Steve Jobs may have cost $30 million to produce, but only reached $7.3 million in its opening weekend, far below predicted figures. This could be thanks to how soon this retelling of Jobs’ tale came after the last film on him, only two years ago. No one really wants to see another film about Steve Jobs, particularly after the poor reviews that 2013’s Jobs received.
That’s not to say that Boyle’s movie is bad – in fact, in a cinematic sense, the film has been very highly acclaimed and is reviewed often as being extremely enjoyable to watch. But the controversial issues of rewriting history and the negative depiction of a man who is not around to defend himself has left a bitter taste in many viewers’ mouths.
Will the UK find these issues as off-putting as the US? And will the film’s disappointing box office force movie makers to confront the morally dubious nature of making biopics? Only time will tell.
Steve Jobs opens to UK cinemas November 13th.