Hard to Be a God: ‘Steve Jobs’ Thinks Different About Steve Jobs

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Steve Jobs is dead, to begin with — there is no doubt whatsoever about that. Maybe this was what emboldened screenwriter Aaron Sorkin and director Danny Boyle to take the liberties they do in Steve Jobs, and maybe it wasn’t. It did mean that Sorkin got access to Lisa Brennan-Jobs — the daughter whom Jobs initially refused to acknowledge was his, and one of the few key figures who declined to be interviewed for the thick-as-a-brick Walter Isaacson biography that Sorkin’s script burns for fuel. Brennan-Jobs was reluctant to talk to Isaacson when her father was still alive, but she talked to Sorkin extensively.1 We can’t really know exactly how her perspective shaped the movie. But Sorkin — also the father of a daughter, for what it’s worth — was either taken enough with her story or grateful enough for her input that he’s conceived Steve Jobs as a film about a smart little girl and the big mean blustery mess of a father who finally opens his arms to her, in his way, and in spite of himself. It’s not the only relationship the film explores, but it’s the hook on which everything else hangs, including the somewhat hollow third-act redemption it contrives for its subject, who dreamed that a computer could be a thing of beauty and was willing to just about decapitate anyone who disagreed. At one point in the film, Jobs reminds another character that he believes in giving consumers two options — buy it or don’t. The movie takes its cues from him.

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