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Welcome to Macintosh - Impressions

My friend Drew and I drove down to Madison, Wisconsin from UW-Oshkosh to catch the premier of “Welcome to Macintosh” at the Chazen Museum of Art. The $30 in gas and cost of admission was money well spent. We met up with another friend of mine, Adam, who lived just a few blocks away.

Madison is fairly open-minded and, as you can guess, full of Mac-heads. The theater was not packed to the brim, but was mostly filled. The level of geekery/virginity was palpable as audience members waved their iPhones, iPods, MacBooks, and assorted Apple periphanalia around before the show. To many in the audience “Welcome to Macintosh” was an interactive experience.

What “Welcome to Macintosh” does well for an independent documentary is accessibility. The history of Apple, the Steves, and the Macintosh is presented through a series of insider interviews that cut through the overly technical, political, and philosophical details that most hardcore Apple fanatics obsess about. For the “heathen” this documentary is very straightforward in capturing the Zeitgeist of the Macintosh. Here is where the interviews shine through.

Because the interviews are conducted with such candor they are often unintentionally hilarious. Jim Reekes, who engineered the Mac startup sound we all love, is unbelievably pragmatic about the realities of engineering the Macintosh within the documentary. He often steals the show by recalling some of Apple’s more bone-headed maneuvers. Another interview with Wayne Bibbins (a RetroMacCast member) grabs unintended laughs. Cameras follow Wayne as he wanders through his 6000 sq. foot office space that is packed to the ceiling rafters with Macs. On the outside the audience may have been laughing. On the inside, however, we were crying as Wayne’s collection puts any of our own to shame. There were a few other highlights in the interviews, none of which I can particularly recall, but they are there. When waxing nostalgic Guy Kawasaki even manages to get in a few knee-slappers.

There is a minor point here that I don’t want to leave out. When Apple’s CEO’s were being chronologically listed, Gil Amelio received a very loud hiss. Like I said, the crowd was very interactive.

Overall the production value of the piece was top-notch. The documentary is brisk and concise in covering thirty years of Apple history. Scenes shot with various Macintosh machines as though they appear naturally in the environment captured an important message in the documentary. Because of the design aesthetic that goes into the Macintosh, its experience is a natural force.

The producers Josh and Rob answered questions after the premier for a little over thirty minutes. Questions ranged from production hardware, to why was an interview Woz not included, to Apple’s copyrighted image licensing fees. Josh handed me a “Welcome to Macintosh” t-shirt for sticking around after the showing.

It is clear that Josh and Rob have put together a labor of love that, hopefully, will pay off in spades for all of their hard work. I wish them the best of luck in making their final product. My praise for the film far outweighs my singular complaint. If either wish to contact me I will share it, but I realize the constraints that they are working within for the documentary.

Unfortunately I do not have photos of the event. The camera I borrowed for the weekend was not set properly and none of my pictures really turned out. I’m really annoyed now that I forgot my camera when visiting my parents last week. Hopefully my friend Drew will allow me to upload some of his.

In closing I did make it a point to mention that I heard about the movie at RetroMacCast.

Views: 18

Comment by James on April 7, 2008 at 6:03am
Thanks for such a thorough and enjoyable report! Now that the film has officially premiered, we can start to share our views on it (since it was pre-release when I saw it, I stopped short of writing a complete review myself). When you said that portions were unintentionally hilarious, that might have been unintentional on the part of the interviewee but certainly not on the part of Josh and Rob. They certainly struck gold with many of the subjects!


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