Berlinale the rise and fall of the Blackberry icon of

Berlinale: the rise and fall of the Blackberry, icon of the 2000s – FRANCE 24

After Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, played by Jesse Eisenberg in “The Social Network” (2010), or that of Apple Steve Jobs (2015), Michael Fassbender in particular interpreted in Dany Boyle’s film of the same name, a digital saga once again thrilled that Movie theater.

“Blackberry”, in the running for the Golden Bear, has chosen to trace the story of a fallen icon whose founders revolutionized the phone market at the turn of the 2000s before burning their wings at the end of the decade.

The director himself, Matt Johnson, plays Doug in the film, one of the backward teenagers who tinkers with phones in the Toronto suburbs, as good at computers and hacking as he is lacking in business acumen.

“Blackberry doesn’t come out of nowhere, the smartphone doesn’t come from someone who would have accidentally come up with the idea that everyone has a phone so that they can keep in touch with others all the time,” emphasized the Canadian filmmaker at the presentation of his film in Berlin . “They saw Star Trek and thought it would be cool if we had that.”

In general, “the people who would be at the forefront of technology were also real nerds, sci-fi fans.”

Filming them is a way of reminding ourselves that we “live in a world that we inherited from young technology enthusiasts who built it from the films they saw”.

“Nothing Cool”

Adapted from a book research into the history of the Blackberry, the film, which avoids the pitfalls of the biopic and at times adopts the semblance of a mockumentary, traces the beginnings of the Canadian company Research in Motion (RIM) that brought the product to market.

The meteoric rise begins when computer genius Mike Lazaridis (Jay Baruchel) meets a ruthless businessman bankrupt and determined to rebuild, Jim Balsillie (Glenn Howerton).

With its large keyboard for easy e-mailing, typing with two thumbs, Blackberry has been a hit with many business leaders, celebrities, but also politicians. Former US President Barack Obama even wanted to stay in the White House after his election in 2008.

Behind the commercial success, the film also reveals the conflict between schoolboy and cold beginnings culture and the claim to profitability that corrupts it. A toxic and ruthless work environment gradually emerges in an ultra-macho world where women are almost absent.

It’s “a world that I know very well, there’s a culture of boys’ locker rooms, of male competition, that I know very well because I grew up in the 1990s,” the director explained.

Fall will be as stunning as success, especially with the release of the Apple iPhone in 2007 and its touchscreen, which instantly overtook the Blackberry.

As one of the characters in the film cruelly puts it, the Blackberry is going from being the device everyone wants to be the device everyone owned before they bought an iPhone.

All ? Except for a few reluctant ones like actor Glenn Howerton, who confided in Berlin that he “never wanted a Blackberry for the reason that everyone had one thing: to be available and to communicate at all times”.

“I just wanted to be left alone most of the time! Watching that damn thing beeping all the time was a real nightmare!” he said. “For me there was nothing cool in the Blackberry”.