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Will a Steve Jobs film work?

SteveJobs.jpgIt seems like Hollywood has noticed the cult like attention the death of Steve Jobs received and are planning to make a film about him, it won't be the first time that Jobs has been played by someone in a film, but it would be the first biographical film about the man, but why?

That's what I find myself asking about him, and in a serious manner despite it sounding like a sketch for a Monty Python film, what did he ever do that warrants a biographical film about him? The answer is simple, the cult like attention the man and his company received through his life and at his death.

Yet, I can't see that a film about his life can be anything but dull, unless it concentrates on one of two very important periods.

Apart from inventing the Apple Macintosh, which is no small feat in itself, I do wonder what Steve Jobs actually invented, and perhaps it's because I'm not in the fan base, but I have to admit I can't think of anything he actually created from new rather than redesigned or improved upon.

Perhaps Apple TV, but then again I think it's still a debate about what was redesigned and redeveloped over what was invented. Still, the outcome is that in many cases they were first to deliver a stronger product, redesign or not, even if they didn't remain as the market leader for that product.

He was a very astute businessman who redeveloped and improved many things and had a uniquely strong marketing style and team which helped those products achieve the status they did. Apple did, and do, take many ideas and refashion them to the individual; with the individual and the way they work in mind. The company redesigned products around the person, and at the same time around their very clever and strictly controlled business model.

Some of you might think I'm having a pop at the man and his company, but I'm not, I think it's very clever the way that the business has evolved, look at the latest version of the iPhone which carries voice recognition. That isn't new, not in the slightest, but the way it integrates with the other features of the phone is and the way that it uses natural language is a slightly different take on the voice recognition apps to date.

What's more Apple or Jobs didn't invent, they bought it from another company and put it in the iPhone. Clever business, clever marketing, clever people.

Plus no one can deny that the products Apple have delivered have had an impact on the marketplace themselves, the Macintosh, the iPod, the iPhone and the iPad have done just that.

So where's the film in all this? I don't see one, except there are two periods that might make for interesting cinema in the same way that the Facebook story did. For The Social Network (Filmstalker review) looked at the relationships between the key players and how they broke apart as the single minded business like drive of Mark Zuckerberg pushed forward, and there are similar stories like that in Steve Jobs past.

The period of the domination of the home computer market and the operating system could be a very interesting one for we have three major corporations involved and three major systems that came out of it.

IBM were working with Microsoft on an operating system in August of 1985, originally called CP/DOS it became known as Operating System/2 or OS/2. The first version was released in April 1987 called OS/2 1.0 and was text, not GUI, that version arrived with OS/2 1.1 in October 1988.

It was during the development of the first OS/2 that Windows was released as an add-on to MS-DOS, November 1985 was the dated release, after IBM and Windows had begun working together on OS/2, but then Microsoft had been working on it for some time before that.

Come 1988 and the two companies split and separately developed their products and in 1990 around the releases of Windows 3.0 and OS/2 1.3, they split and went their separate ways.

Of course they were beaten to it by the Apple Macintosh which was a computer with a GUI interface released in 1984, where it no doubt spurred on IBM and Microsoft to develop their GUI operating systems to sell more computers, and while it lose the fight to dominate the marketplace it carved a foothold in the business market and has since become a favoured computer for the more design conscious.

I'm sure in amongst that there's an interesting and exciting story to be told, but really it's more about IBM and Microsoft than anything, and I'm sure I was losing you during those paragraphs, how would a film deliver that?

Okay, how about another time period, a more recent one, the battle between the iPhone and the Android phones as Apple took various phone manufacturers to court to try and stop Android taking marketplace from them, even managing to halt the release of some devices due to alleged patent infringements?

For me this is the story. For Steve Jobs and Apple are creative people who live by design and marketing, who seemed to thrive on the general creativity but had a company and product that tightly controlled the marketplace. Along comes a competitor and things got heated with court cases and attempts to stifle the other product and the other companies creativity.

It's an interesting time period and story and surely stretches back to the days of the PC and the GUI operating system, after all they'd seen their market share whittled away by the PC and Windows, is there an interesting parallel to be had here?

I think that, coupled with the court cases and what were happening behind the scenes of the cool technology company and in the courts, would make for the interesting story. Not the biography of Steve Jobs, but the story of the battle to dominate the mobile market, clearly influenced by the lost battle to dominate the home computer market.

Despite all this Hollywood are sure that the film will be made, after all the authorised biography Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson (Amazon.co.uk
/ Amazon.com
) is doing well and Sony of all people are the ones who have the rights to make the film about his life.

The latest news is that Aaron Sorkin is indeed considering writing the story of Steve Jobs and fashioning it for a film, and speaking to E! Online through The Hollywood Reporter he reveals that Sony has asked him to do the job:

"Right now I'm just in the thinking-about-it stages...It's a really big movie and it's going to be a great movie no matter who writes it."

Now that's interesting because I would think that it does matter who writes it. Put an Apple fan behind the keyboard and you will get one script, put a non-Apple fan behind it and you'll get a different story. I'd say get a team doing it from both sides and then combine the script.

Sorkin goes on to say that:

"He was a great entrepreneur, he was a great artist, a great thinker...He's probably inspired [my 11-year-old daughter] Roxy more than he's inspired me…she plays with all his toys."

Yes, but in other households there are all PC and Android toys, or a mixture of toys, or none of these toys at all. The question is how will they take to a Steve Jobs film, and what could a Jobs film be to attract them to the cinema?



Huh? Did you read the biography? It's pretty hard on Jobs as a human being, not just a celebration of his accomplishments. He's complex and interesting, and there is much human drama in his being thrown out of Apple and coming back to rescue it from the brink. The many things he accomplished by persistence, single-mined belief in his ideas, and a personal charisma he seemed to be able to turn on at will are pretty amazing, including feats such as changing the music industry completely with the iPod. His complex personality even contributed to his death, in that he put off surgery for many months, trying "natural" cures. My only question is how the story could be told in two hours and the acting challenge involved.


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