There are two narratives surrounding the new Steve Jobs movie.
Narrative One: Most of the movie pushes the creative licence to the extreme, fabricating what happened to Jobs and those around him to the point the story comes off as a tall tale, not something rooted in fact. Viewers will leave the movie with a skewed perception of what Jobs was really like.
Narrative Two: This movie was never intended to be a truthful biopic. Its a characterization of who Steve Jobs was. The facts and events were purposefully fudged to create an entertaining film. Just have fun. Don’t take it too seriously.
Narrative Two is how former Apple CEO John Sculley, a major character in the movie played by Jeff Daniels, sees it. In an interview with Tech Insider, (the real) Sculley said he enjoyed the movie and sees it purely as entertainment, not a literal representation of what really happened.
“For anyone to see this movie and think they know the complete Steve Jobs would be completely ridiculous,” Sculley told Tech Insider. “The real Steve Jobs was much more than this.”
Tellingly, Sculley refuses to see the new documentary about Steve Jobs by filmmaker Alex Gibney or read the official Jobs biography by Walter Isaacson, calling both pieces opportunistic attempts to trash Jobs. The new movie about Jobs, which was written by Aaron Sorkin and directed by Danny Boyle, may not accurately depict who Jobs was, but viewers shouldn’t necessarily expect it to.
“I looked at it as there’s a part of Steve Jobs that’s recognisable,” Sculley said of Boyle’s movie. “But this is not even close to telling the whole story.”
Sorkin and Boyle also made up a lot of real-life events for the sake of developing the characters.
Spoiler warning: Stop reading now if you don’t want anything about the movie ruined for you.
For example, there’s a pivotal scene between Jobs and Sculley where the two get into an intense argument about Jobs’ ouster from Apple that takes place before Jobs unveils a new computer from his company Next. But the real Sculley told Tech Insider that he was never even at the Next event in real life. The entire scene (one of the best in the movie) was entirely made up.
We asked Sculley: If so much of the movie was made up, then did anything ring true? Did Sorkin and Boyle get anything factually accurate?
Sculley said there was one such moment: the introduction of the original Mac in the movie’s first act. There’s one scene that shows the audience going wild before the unveiling. They’re screaming. They’re clapping. They’re doing the wave. It looks more like a sporting event than a tech product launch.
The filmmakers nailed it, Sculley said, calling it “a goosebump moment for me” when he saw it in an early screening of the movie.
“Steve Jobs” is in theatres now.