Tuesday, 26 October 2021

Movie review: Elon Musk, The Real Life Iron Man, dir Sonia Anderson (2018)

I always thought Musk was Russian or that he was born in Eastern Europe. Turns out he’s originally from South Africa! How obtuse of me. I appreciated the opportunity given to me in order to finally learn the truth. 

Watching this efficient documentary I also learned that Musk is certainly an unusual person and that the public persona that pursues and defines him is not an accurate index, I think, to his actual worth. What an extraordinary life for an engineer to live. 

And to live by example. Most people won’t have the insights at their disposal that this movie contains, so it’s worthwhile for anyone to make time to see it on Amazon Prime. From romance to education, and from startups to success, ‘The Real Life Iron Man’ covers all bases with elegance and aplomb. Highly recommended even if you’re not currently hankering after a Tesla Wall (I wouldn’t mind having one in my basement, and maybe I will once I get an EV).

An ability to turn good ideas – what anyone alive today might dream up over a cup of coffee with a friend – into concrete reality and in doing so turn a handsome profit (one interviewee says he has the Midas touch), is what makes Mush exceptional. Having said that, the example he’s set for other people might strike some people as frivolous. I admire the ability of SpaceX rockets to return safely to earth on the force of their engines, but for Jeff Bezos to them set up his own aerospace company with the aim of reaching other planets seems like overkill. How many billionaires does it take to change a lightbulb? 

That Bezos has chosen to screen this movie on Prime is like Channel Nine running stories on the front page of the Sydney Morning Herald about what Network Ten’s morning show hosts are up to. All of the chatter about technological innovation, space travel, and astronauts helps all of these men run a PR campaign that can have a secondary aim: to stop people complaining about inequality. 

If people are busy talking about orbiting space stations instead of moaning about how Amazon employees are paid the minimum wage then there’d be fewer people bitching about the astronomical sums of money these men earn each day. But as one of the interviewees in ‘The Real Life Iron Man’ points out, Musk isn’t in the game just for the money. If he had been, he would’ve quit and retired to Monaco after selling PayPal. The fact that he’s invested his cash in new businesses that’ve subsequently turned out to be successful, and that have actually increased his net worth, is an index of the kind of man that he is. 


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