Monday, June 13, 2011

PIRATES OF THE SILICON VALLEY

This is a 1999 film directed by Martyn Burke (but I just saw this docudrama the other night) and narrates the story how Steve Jobs and Bill Gates came into the world's consciousness as unbeatable computer geniuses and how they founded the business empires, Apple and Microsoft, respectively, which would dominate the landscape of computer technology in the new millennium.

The film actually is not an episode-type presentation because the story  was not divided into two episodes but just jumped from one scene to another, compressing the unparalleled destinies of these two billionaires into one. They shared so many comparison and contradiction, including fierce competition--how Gates gasped in awe about the magic Apple portrayed in the world of electronic gadgets and how they meet and eventually accused one another of "stealing" an idea about a certain discovery--They are indeed Silicon Valley's most formidable rivals.

Though their stories are compressed in a single film, the concept is not confusing because each scene distinguishes Jobs (played by Noah Wyle) and Gates (Anthony Michael Hall) through the narrators, Steve Wozniak (played by Joey Slotnick) for Jobs and Steve Balmer (John DiMaggio) for Gates.

The film opens with Jobs (Wyle) talking closely to the camera explaining something about electrons and the new era of computers. He was in his ecstatic mood because the crew of an advertisement company will going to create a commercial that would portray Apple as the new "charm" of technology in the 20th century by introducing a Macintosh personal computer.

Most scenes center on Steve Jobs but I don't like the way the story presented because it portrays him as someone who is obsessed about spirituality (Jobs is a Buddhist) and created the philosophy of Apple with the spiritual dimension he is in. I cringed in desperation also when I saw one episode where he put his feet on top of the table during a meeting with one of the IBM executives and blurted an offensive line "are you still a virgin?" I mean what the hell is that? Jobs is also described in the film as an arrogant boss who occasionally yell and bully employees. But during the Macworld Expo in 1999, Steve Jobs, despite so many inaccuracies in the film, revealed that he was not upset with how his story was presented, he said "Me?Upset?Hey, it's just a movie" this punchline reminded me with Mark Zuckerberg's reaction also when asked about how he felt towards "Social Network" film where he was portrayed as stubborn and ill-tempered. 
World's second richest man, Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft

On the other hand, Bill Gates is presented in the film as someone who is more like an impossible nerd buddy (Anthony Michael Hall walked like a robot and stared at the ceiling like he is a complete drifter and he wore high waist pants!). His story picks on a scene where he played poker with his Harvard classmates and Steve Balmer poked fun at his naivety stating Gates just sleep wherever he could even in a very messy room and bed, but Balmer rebounded by describing Gates as extraordinarily brilliant. While Steve Jobs and his Apple co-founders, Steve Wozniak, and Ronald Wayne are on the road of fame and fortune, Bill Gates and his Microsoft co-founders, Paul Allen and Steve Balmer, are still struggling to create a world of their own. But as the story progressed, Microsoft made a surprise leap  into the world of fortune and glory...and the rest is history.
Steve Jobs, the 42nd richest man in the world, founder of Apple Incorporated

This documentary-drama film talks more about the inside story of Apple and Microsoft inventions and how these two high technology companies contrasted with the business philosophies they created, while Microsoft entertained the idea of penetrating deeply into the world of technology, Apple remained devoted to its vision which places art above anything else than commerce (which sets Apple apart from the rest and retaining its top position as world's most admired company). The film tackles a little portion of Steve Jobs's personal life--his ex-girlfriend whom he deserted when she became pregnant and gave birth to a daughter whom Jobs's refused to recognize until the late part of 1990s--but nothing about Bill Gates and until now I am wondering why it did not include the story of Gates marrying Melinda, infact, they already had two children by that time the film came into the theaters.

Anyway, for someone like me who is quite obsessed with how Jobs and Gates came up with fantastic inventions, Pirates of the Silicon Valley is an exciting documentary film to watch. But if you are not into Apple and Microsoft, this film might be too boring. 

My only warning to you is that after watching this film, do not judge Steve Jobs as something like a monster because in real life, well based on other testimonies, he is not entirely what the film is trying to present. Unlike Bill Gates who grew up in a very comfortable and loving family, Steve Jobs was given for adoption by his young mother and grew up shuffling from different relatives, his childhood was a troubled one until he went to India to discover something about himself and became a Buddhist. Of course, this very sensitive aspect of Jobs's personal life was not shown in the film. And whatever happens, I always love Apple (especially Mac, toinkz!). Currently, Jobs is suffering a terminal illness, neuroendocrine cancer, but I am hoping he can fully recover.

By the strange twist of fate, both Jobs and Gates are college drop-outs who managed to find their fame and fortune through their extraordinary talent and intellect. Well, as what Rob Owen of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)  commented "[they are] The Geniuses who transformed not only the way we communicate, but the way we live".

But I am just wondering why they are not the best of friends in real life, Gates's best friend is Warren Buffet, the third richest man in the world while Jobs's best friend is Larry Ellison, founder of Oracle and the world's 5th richest man (according to Forbes magazine).

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