Later this year a biopic will be released that charts the life of the late Apple visionary Steve Jobs. Ashton Kutcher is the actor privileged enough to play this enigmatic entrepreneur. Fascinating no doubt, but I cannot help but feel disappointed in the Hollywood juggernaut for what I see as a worrying trend: the capitalisation on stories that are still very much in the public sphere.
Steve Jobs was an incredible human being; of that there is no doubt. Every now and then someone comes along that grabs the world by its horns and drives us forward. His legacy does not need bolstering by the slick Hollywood conveyor belt, for it resides in the hands and pockets of a generation. His shiny Ipads, Iphones and computers have laden our world for the better. It is because of him that I am able to face-time my grandparents who live abroad. If we could give Steve Jobs the choice between a resurgence in his celebrity due to a film or a single testimonial like my own about how his ideas improved a life, there is no doubt he would choose the latter.
Only a few weeks ago I saw, The Impossible, a film telling the true story of a families struggle to survive the 2004 Asian Tsunami. Granted, the acting was tremendous; Naomi Watts brought a truth to her character I did not think possible. Equally, Ewan McGregor acted so well I didn't notice his customary nomadic accent. Oh...maybe I did. However, films such as these are insensitive to how raw and unresolved their narratives feel. Hollywood should allow for these stories to become precisely that: stories. We must allow for a substantial passing of time before a film is made; to encourage public healing and the natural framing of memories. Hollywood must not dictate when and how we must remember. As much as anything, releasing films so soon after an event feels disrespectful. No sooner have they slipped out of the news, they return; repackaged underneath glitzy Hollywood wrapping paper.
The greatest culprit to this crime was the Nicholas Cage film World Trade Centre. Notwithstanding that this film received mediocre reviews, I refused to see it out of principle: outraged as only a mere five years had passed since the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Whilst I accept the power of films to educate and help us move on, this felt distinctly like taking advantage. The difference is time. Recounting the Holocaust or stories of harrowing warfare like Pearl Harbour is a vital part of cinema tradition. Here the film industry can be both educational and entertaining, with no grudge being held against the profit seekers.
With many of these films the wounds are still sore and collective healing has only just begun. Society seeks an organic closure, not one thrust upon us by the film industry. I implore Hollywood allow us to tell our own stories, not simply recall yours. The time will come when films are needed, when society needs reminding. Now is not that time.