by Ryaan Bhuiyan
Bill Gates. Business magnate. Entrepreneur. Philanthropist. Almost everyone has heard of Bill Gates, because of two main reasons; he was the co-founder of Microsoft, and because he’s really rich. Even though everyone’s heard of him, it seems like people don’t really know who he is. Director and producer Davis Guggenheim, most notably known for directing An Inconvenient Truth, decided to make a documentary about him, saying that he would give an inside look on his life and what goes on in that fascinating brain of his.
Over the span of 157 minutes, Guggenheim talks about Gates’s past. He does it well but he also shows some things that Bill is doing in the present, such as trying to fix the sewer systems in India and also trying to fix our climate, even if it means having to deal with political problems.
He also talks about stuff that happened in his past, whether it was personal, business, or even political. They talk about his relationship with his mother, and his relationship with Paul Allen. In the series, Melinda and Bill both talk about how they met each other, and their relationship ever since. It gets emotional sometimes as they talk about how he felt when the United States Federal Government sued him in an antitrust law case. People saw him as a monster, and he describes how it was the only time he “actively sought distraction.”
I wish that Davis Guggenheim had gone more in-depth about trying to understand the thought process behind some decisions Bill made, and how it changed his life because it doesn’t get addressed as much as you would like it to. The point of the documentary is to replicate his thought process, but sometimes it can get really confusing. Adding to my point, in the documentary, Melinda Gates states that her husband’s brain is just as cluttered as the apartment building he shared with Paul Allen when they were younger.
Another problem I have with this documentary is the way it is made. It’s frustrating how Bill can be talking about something, and just as they create suspense for a certain topic, Guggenheim decides to hop back onto another subject. Sometimes they are talking about a really interesting subject, and then they cut to something else, and then after a while, they come back to the subject, but all of my interest in that subject is now gone and it’s been moved to the one they just moved to. This strategy for documentaries works, but in this specific documentary, I wish that they would elaborate a little more on subjects before moving around.
Episodes 2 and 3 are great because they show him trying to fix a substantial difficulty while also talking about his childhood, and trying to do some of the “decoding” that the show is actually about. Episode 1, in my opinion, is not that great. Instead of talking about Bill, it’s talking more about the sewer problem in India, and why Bill’s idea for fixing it is so great. Don’t get me wrong, I’m fine with hearing about his plan, but the episode risks losing many viewers as it doesn’t stay true to what the show is supposed to be about.
This series shows Bill’s valiant efforts to fix problems in today’s world, but something always goes wrong. He tried to fix the sewage system in India, and they came up with a great model, but it’s too expensive. He tried to fix polio outbreaks in Africa, and numbers were going down substantially with his help. Billions of dollars were poured into it, but cases this year are still going up. Most importantly, his plan for TerraPower.
He had a deal with China, that could essentially fix our climate drastically. The deal blew up due to a trade war between the U.S. and China. He was sued by the U.S. government themselves, and he ended up being vindicated on all counts. And yet, he doesn’t give up. He just keeps on going. When asked, “Do you ever think that it might be time to quit?”, Bill responds “Well, sometimes you do have to say ‘I quit’, but sometimes you have to say ‘I need to work harder.’” I think it’s inspirational how he keeps on trying his best on everything he does, regardless of the struggles and hardships he faces.
All in all, I think that this is an outstanding show. I don’t enjoy the way that it’s made and the way that it’s put together that much, but all of that is forgettable when you see what the show is really about. It shows the way how Bill Gates is a man who wants to change the world and a man who won’t quit. This show was a masterpiece, even if it didn’t reach its full potential. The show ends with a quote from Mary Gates, Bill’s mother, that stuck with me long after I watched the show, even today.
“Each one of us has to start out with developing his or her own definition of success. And when we have these specific expectations of ourselves, we’re more likely to live up to them. Ultimately, it’s not what you get or even what you give…
It’s what you become. ”