1965: The Jobs family garage, Los Altos
Paul Jobs presents his son Steve with a workbench as a birthday present and calls it “a fine place to start.”
2007: The stage of a convention center, San Francisco
An adult Steve Jobs delivers a public launch of his company’s new product—“one device”—that will revolutionize technology. He ends his pitch noticeably weak and short of breath.
2007, directly after: Corporate offices, Cupertino
Steve retreats to his office. His wife Laurene chides him for not taking better care of himself and losing himself in his work. She asks him to return home.
2007, later that afternoon: The hills around Cupertino
Steve goes on a long meditative walk. He encounters Kōbun Chino Otogawa, Steve’s former spiritual mentor in Sōtō Zen Buddhism, who died five years before. Steve remembers something he once said: “You can’t connect the dots going forward. You can only connect them going backward.” As they gaze at the sunset, Kōbun prompts Steve to acknowledge his mortality.
1973: A class in calligraphy, Reed College, Oregon
A teacher discusses the significance of the ensō, a circle drawn in Japanese calligraphy. Steve is inspired by the aesthetic ideas of elegance and simplicity.
1973: The garage of the Jobs family home, Los Altos
Steve’s best friend Steve Wozniak has created a “blue box,” a device that allows the user to make free telephone calls. Steve and “Woz” celebrate the ease with which they think corporate giants can be toppled.
1974: An apple orchard near Los Altos
Steve and his girlfriend Chrisann take LSD. Steve imagines their surroundings coming to life as an orchestra, playing Bach. The two start to make love when Kōbun interrupts them.
2007: The hills around Cupertino
1975: Los Altos Zen Center
Kōbun informs Steve that he cannot live at the Zen Center and hints that his destiny may lie elsewhere.
1989: A lecture Hall, Stanford University
Steve meets Laurene for the first time.
1976: The garage of the Jobs family home, Los Altos
Woz presents a new computer interface to Steve. Chrisann arrives and tells Steve that she is pregnant. When Steve demands that Chrisann end the pregnancy, she leaves in tears. Steve and Woz dream about the future of their invention, Steve remembering the orchestra in the orchard playing Bach and imagining the computer as “something we play.”
1980: Corporate offices, Cupertino
Steve severs ties with Chrisann and angers Woz by denying a fellow employee his pension. Chrisann and Woz lament the loss of the Steve they once knew.
1989: Steve Jobs’ home, Palo Alto
Steve shows Laurene his sparsely furnished home. A shared love for Ansel Adams work and Ella Fitzgerald albums prompt Laurene to encourage Steve to find meaning in his work.
1981–1986: Corporate offices, Cupertino
Steve denies palimony to Chrisann for their child, Lisa, and offends Woz, who quits. Demoted by the board of directors, Steve bitterly leaves the company he founded.
2007: The hills around Cupertino
1989: A lecture hall, Stanford University (REPLAY)
1989: Steve Jobs’ home, Palo Alto (REPLAY)
Kōbun reminds Steve that it was necessary for him to learn from his mistakes. He helps Steve relive the more positive aspects of his life, like Laurene.
2007: Steve Jobs’ home
Steve returns home after his walk to find Laurene waiting for him. She confronts him and persuades him to finally accept his illness and mortality. Laurene leaves and Steve is alone. Kōbun conjures the best day in Steve’s life: the day he married Laurene.
1991: Yosemite National Park
2011: Stanford University Chapel
Attendees of the wedding gather in a circle while Kōbun officiates a Buddhist ceremony. Steve steps away to express his love for Laurene. The wedding scene changes suddenly into another ceremony and Kōbun informs Steve that he is witnessing his own memorial celebration. Steve protests a few production elements in the service, and Kōbun tells him to be still, to simplify. Laurene and Woz contemplate Steve’s legacy and their time with him. Finally, Laurene is left alone and observes that while Steve will be both lionized and demonized, no one can deny his influence on the world.
EPILOGUE (FULL CIRCLE)
1965: The garage of the Jobs family home, Los Altos
As Laurene looks on, Paul Jobs presents his son with a workbench on his birthday… “a fine place to start.”