Biography as Cinema Verité? Writing Steve Job’s Life


This paper reviews the biographical film within the genre of documentary and proposes a contemporary approach to a subgenre. Neither completely fiction nor fact, it attests not just to the conceptual hybridity between historie and discours; it also permits both a creative approach to the inscription of life and a critical analysis of the temporal treatment by the biographical film creators, arguing for the genealogical approach as exemplified by Danny Boyle’s filmic biography. While analytical attention is given to media specificity, this paper will broach filmic biography not merely as the media representation of an icon but also the illuminating acme bringing to life the key figure of representation with an elaboration on how the biographical film is aesthetically a visual interpellation of the individual whose life is on display. I engage with Bill Nichols’s and Noel Carroll’s concepts on documentary to address the hybrid characteristic found within these biographical films, Joshua Michael Stern’s 2013 film release, entitled Jobs, and Danny Boyle’s critically acclaimed 2015 Steve Jobs with the following research questions. First, how can one conceptually accommodate death (here Jobs’s demise in 2011 arguably prompts two biographical films) within the term “life-writing”? In addition to the genealogical approach mentioned above, how do both films treat the significant notion of history upon which life-writing is itself based? Last but the most important, how does filmic interpellation work in order to bring to life the individual on which the film is based? An address of the puissance of iconography of which Jobs is arguably a symbol, this gives this writer opportunity to write on the visual writing of his life.

Author Information
Constance Goh, Curtin University, Singapore

Paper Information
Conference: KAMC2023
Stream: Film Studies

This paper is part of the KAMC2023 Conference Proceedings (View)
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To cite this article:
Goh C. (2023) Biography as Cinema Verité? Writing Steve Job’s Life ISSN: 2436-0503 – The Kyoto Conference on Arts, Media & Culture 2023: Official Conference Proceedings
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Posted by James Alexander Gordon