Over a montage of news clips and iPhone videos of mourners lining up to pay homage at Apple stores around the world, at the start of "Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine", Oscar-winning documentarian Alex Gibney says: "When Steve Jobs died, I was mystified."
As teary-eyed people lay flowers beneath portraits of the Apple cofounder, who died on 5 October, 2011 at the age of 56, Gibney wonders upon how someone could get such an outpouring of emotion, grief and devotion who was not a pop singer or a leader of any kind in the society.
The first two hours of Gibney's documentary showcases the Jobs' biography – the groundbreaking debuts of the iPod, the iPhone and the iPad, the transformation of iTunes into a music and video giant and as the leader of Pixar, one of the leading companies in animated-film industry. These two hours brilliantly represent how Jobs became one of the richest, most powerful corporate chieftains on the Earth, shifting the paradigms while he was at it.
However, much of the documentary emphasises on the dark side of Jobs' life. It shows a dreamer drawn to eastern spiritualism, who lied, cheated, and bullied, let his family and friends down, let his business thrive while his company exploited cheap labour markets in China and dodged taxes via Ireland.
Those who have read Walter Isaacson's "Steve Jobs" book know already of the subject covered by Gibney. Even then, some additional information that were previously missing from the book, like mix of talking-head interviews, archival footage and long takes from a 2008 SEC deposition, were shown in the movie that proves how complicated Jobs was and how often he contradicted the values and principles he set himself.
The documentary mentions that one of the major reasons behind the huge success of Apple was that unlike IBM, which was known for making machines strictly for business and corporate purpose, Apple developed and manufactured machines that were supposed to ease off the life of the common people. Now, people had something to which they could relate and that too with ease and comfort.
The central plot of Gibney's film is the idea that the products Jobs fed into the world that were "designed and intended" to bring people closer and help them with communicating better were, in many ways, made them more insular and isolated.
"That, too, is part of Jobs' legacy," Gibney said, "We're glued to the brilliant little gizmos cradled in our hands, the tablets we grab whenever there's a chance. It's like Frodo's ring."
Gibney is known for his critically acclaimed documentary "Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief" and Academy-winner feature movie "Taxi to the Dark Side".
"Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine" is playing in select theaters, and available on video on demand and online at iTunes and Google Play.