SXSW Film Review: Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine

Apple chief as both genius and grotesque in Alex Gibney doc

Steve Jobs is a mirror reflecting back on our own desires, Alex Gibney tells us in Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine, an overlong but insightful documentary that is of two minds about the late Apple leader whose 2011 death brought worldwide cultural grief rivaling the murder of John Lennon.

First there is the wunderkind magician Jobs, all charm/smirk, who seemingly pulled cultural change from his sleeve: Macintosh, iMac, iPhone, iPod, iPad. Then Gibney hammers us with the dark side: the man who originally denied he was a father to Lisa, then manned up and named an Apple computer after her; the vindictive businessman who lashed out at tech journalists who came into possession of an iPhone prototype; the guy who gave himself and pals sleazy backdated stock options while using overseas accounts to avoid taxes.

Jobs flirted with Buddhist enlightenment, Gibney muses, before he had fully given up on attachment. Was Jobs a marketing guru/pusher addicting us to machines Sigmund Freud termed the “prosthetic god,” or has he left us with a profound gift of knowledge? Gibney suggests the answer is in the darkness of a dormant iPhone screen as it reflects our own hazy visage back at us.

Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine

Headliners, World Premiere
Thursday, March 19, 2pm, Paramount

Keep up with all our SXSW Film coverage at

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

Q&A With Comedian Tig Notaro
Q&A With Tig Notaro
Showtime documentary airs Friday

Andy Campbell, April 15, 2015

SXSW Film 2015 Rundown
SXSW Film Coverage
Reviews, interviews, photo galleries, and more

March 22, 2015

More by Joe O'Connell
Top Books to Read in 2020 As Everything Falls Apart
Top Books to Read in 2020 As Everything Falls Apart
In a COVID-strained year, tales of families repairing their lives and the caste system's effect of Black Americans made an impact

Dec. 18, 2020

Texas Book Festival 2019: Truth Worth Telling: A Conversation With Journalist Scott Pelley
Festival 2019: Truth Worth Telling With Scott Pelley
Newsman Scott Pelley had words of advice about media in the modern age

Oct. 28, 2019


SXSW Film, SXSW Film 2015, Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine, Alex Gibney, Apple

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

New recipes and food news delivered Mondays

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle