By Dennis Hartley
(Originally posted on Digby’s Hullabaloo on November 12, 2011)
Steve Jobs: The Lost Interview is just that; it is literally “found footage” discovered in director Paul Sen’s garage at his London home. The interview runs about 70 minutes; only 10 minutes of the footage ended up being used for the original miniseries presentation. It may be a bit dubious to label this as a “documentary” when you consider that a) the tape was found last month, which allows scant time for post-production (it shows), and b) it is basically just a VHS dub of an unedited interview that was conducted in 1995 by Robert Cringely for Sen’s 1996 PBS miniseries called Triumph of the Nerds: The Rise and Fall of Accidental Empires. In other words, don’t expect a slick production (although…the press screener I viewed was subtitled “rough cut” so it’s possible the version in theaters will be polished up). That being said, as an historical document, it’s a doozey.
Famously, Jobs had a tendency to shun in-depth interviews (perhaps due to some, oh, I don’t know, control issues?) which is what makes this piece so riveting. He’s relaxed and quite candid throughout; it’s obvious that he trusted Cringely. The whole of Jobs’ dichotomy is laid out right there in that 70 minute conversation-the charisma, the vision, the shrewd intelligence -as well as the ego, the arrogance and the snarkiness. Jobs is also frequently quite funny (which I didn’t expect), especially when he’s ripping Bill Gates a new asshole with a few choice comments (“The only problem with Microsoft is that they just have no taste.”). He’s also a master of the Double Putdown, chasing his zingers with “…and I don’t mean that in a small way.”
To be honest, I’ve always been somewhat immune to the Cult of Steve Jobs. While I certainly understand and appreciate the game-changing nature of his innovations, I’ve never owned an iMac or an iPod or an iPad. But I have to say, this film was a real iOpener for me. I think I “get it” now. Oh, Bill? You can have your ring back…