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If there's one entrepreneur that deserves a seventy-two minute theatrical interview, it's Apple's Steve Jobs. Whether or not you like or support the infectious company, it is no doubt that Jobs was an incredible man of business, craft, and personality, one who provided shock treatment to Apple when bankruptcy was looming and one of incredible enigma and intelligence.
In 1995, filmmaker Robert X. Cringley sat down with the legendary Jobs a decade after he departed from Apple after contentious, power-hungry relations with John Sculley. At seventy-two minutes, a lengthy interview with Jobs was exceptionally rare due to the fact that he stayed out of the limelight and rarely let his true charisma and insight be revealed to the public. During this time, Jobs was the founder of his self-made company, NeXT, which he would then sell to Apple in 1996 to become the CEO of the company, producing a number of gadgets and time-savers that would eventually morph into things people seemingly couldn't live without. He makes very clear in the interview that he wants to make each generation better and better with a new and consistent line of technology. It's 2012, and we have already met such works as the iPod, the iPhone, the iTouch, the Mac computer, and the iPad, so it's needless to say that Jobs had hastily worked to make that vision a reality.
The interview was filmed, some of it was spliced into Cringley's PBS series Triumph of the Nerd, until the entire thing was reportedly lost after being shipped from New York en-route to London. Not long after Jobs' death, it was discovered on VHS and released theatrically in very limited theaters and is now currently on several video on demand services before its official DVD release later this summer.
During the interview, the loquacious, attentive, and always engaged Jobs talks in great lengths about his humble beginnings and fascinations with computers, how he researched at Hewlett-Packard, his friendship with Steve Wozniak, and gives a meticulous account of his vision for the future, his bold ideas, and continually presents himself with his unconditional charm and insights on his life and interests.
One of Jobs' many metaphorical references to his life is how, when he was young, he assisted an elderly man with chores that lived on his block, despite his ominous appearance and vibes. One day, the man showed him a rock-tumbler, where he put in ugly-looking stones, some liquid, and some grit-powder. He told Jobs to come back the next day, and when he did, the stones were shiny and polished, from the intense liquid bath and the friction they created from rubbing against each other. Jobs states that humans are the same way when put in a situation together that tests them intellectually. They will have to clash with other people, share different ideas, maybe argue a little bit, before creating something that is unique and impressive.
One of the final questions brought up by interviewer Cringley (who is heard, but never seen) is what are Jobs' views on Microsoft as a company. "Microsoft is McDonalds," Jobs replies. He states how they have a great success story and model, but have no creativity or substance behind their relatively bland products - strangely harsh words from a man so close with Bill Gates. But the interview itself it full of these kinds of surprises.
Steve Jobs: The Lost Interview can't be called a film, for as it is one long, static shot of Steve Jobs, occasionally interrupted by a freeze-frame and a voice-over of Cringley wording the questions he remembers asking, and begins with a very brief introduction explaining the origins of this interview by Cringley himself. The only problem in sight with the interview is it neglects to provide the viewer with more context or history leading up to this point in Jobs' life. The filmmakers were probably riveted to find the lost footage and anxiously impatient to show it to the public as fast as possible. Nevertheless, the raw footage we get is compelling and intriguing and could brew a new documentary on Jobs in and of itself.
Starring: Steve Jobs and Robert X. Cringley. Directed by: Paul Sen.
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