奈飛（Netflix）發布了一部三集紀錄片，想要一探億萬富翁、微軟創始人兼慈善家比爾·蓋茨的內心世界。紀錄片的名字《比爾的大腦內部：解讀比爾·蓋茨》（Inside Bill’s Brain: Decoding Bill Gates）十分貼切，這部時長達3小時的片子講述了蓋茨的人生起伏，包括他在富裕的西雅圖家庭的成長故事、微軟的創立以及他和梅琳達·蓋茨目前通過蓋茨基金會所從事的公共衛生事業。
這三集的每一集都有值得一看的時刻，包括第一集——這集的內容沒有那么光鮮，它把對人類排泄物的討論變成了從教育角度看發展中國家面臨的衛生挑戰。但是，正如一些評論所言，曾經執導過《難以忽視的真相》（An Inconvenient Truth, Waiting for “Superman”）的導演戴維斯·古根海姆在蓋茨各個人生階段之間的過渡或許有些過于突然，也過于頻繁。由于這個原因，持有懷疑態度或時間緊迫的觀眾應該選擇第二集，因為這一集聚焦于蓋茨的思考方式，最為深刻。
本集里也描繪了微軟最初幾年讓人開心的舊時光，當時蓋茨和艾倫在新墨西哥州阿爾伯克基合租了一間小公寓。“我們當時玩得很開心。”蓋茨在一次采訪中回憶道，“我從來沒有喝醉過，保羅把我灌醉了。保羅喜歡吉米·亨德里克斯，他很喜歡這首歌《你見識過嗎？》（‘Are You Experienced’）”這些場景也很好地說明了他和艾倫之間的分歧和差別如何迅速發展：艾倫的愛好不局限于編程，他也喜歡吉他和科幻小說，而蓋茨則被塑造成一個“不相信假期”的工作狂。
Netflix has released a new three-part docuseries attempting to peer into the mind of billionaire Microsoft founder and philanthropist Bill Gates. Aptly titled Inside Bill’s Brain: Decoding Bill Gates, the three-hour series ebbs and flows between Gates’s upbringing in affluent Seattle, the founding of Microsoft, and the present public health work he and Melinda Gates are doing with their namesake foundation.
Each of the three episodes has moments worth watching, including the first—a non-glamorous hour of television that turns discussions of human fecal matter into an educational look at the sanitation challenges facing developing countries. But, as some reviews have pointed out, director Davis Guggenheim (An Inconvenient Truth, Waiting for “Superman”) transitions perhaps too abruptly and frequently from the various periods in Gates’s life. It’s for this reason that skeptical or time-strapped viewers should select the second episode, as it’s the most focused and insightful glimpse into the way Gates thinks.
The episode begins with a reenactment of 13-year-old Gates and Microsoft cofounder Paul Allen digging through a dumpster to find source code for the PDP-10 computer. It’s appropriate foreshadowing of what’s to come: an exploration of Gates’s teenage years and his complicated partnership with Allen.
You very much get the sense in this episode that Gates’s career was shaped by his adolescence. His middle school friendship with classmate Kent Evans highlights the beginnings of Gates’ interests in business. (I’ll bashfully admit there’s a neat montage of historical moments juxtaposed against Gates discussing the influence of Fortune magazine.) “What kind of impact could you have? Should we go be generals? Should we go be ambassadors?” he says. “This idea that some people were super successful, that was interesting. What did they know? What did they do? What drove those kinds of successes?” These sorts of scenes come closest to telling us how Gates actually does think.
The episode veers away from Gates’s youth at times, at one point touching on his friendship with fellow billionaire Warren Buffet. Another plot line focuses on the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s mission of eradicating polio. But eventually it delves back into Gates’ high school years, when he began to foster a friendship with the slightly-older Allen after the tragic, accidental death of Evans. It was then, in the 1970s, when Gates and Allen began picking up side-gigs as computer programmers, leading to the eventual founding of Microsoft and the personal computer revolution.
There’s amusing insight into those early years at Microsoft, when Gates and Allen shared a cramped apartment in Albuquerque, New Mexico. “We had a lot of fun,” Gates recalls in an interview. “I had never gotten drunk and Paul got me drunk. Paul was into Jimi Hendrix and there was the song ‘Are You Experienced?’” These scenes also do a good job of illustrating the burgeoning differences between him and Allen—the latter had hobbies outside of coding, like guitar and science-fiction, while Gates is presented as a fanatical hard worker who “didn’t believe in vacation.”
The subject of Gates and Allen’s deteriorating relationship has been the subject of much speculation, and Guggenheim’s portrayal of it is both intriguing and mournful given Allen’s death in 2018. Additional interviewees who knew both, like Melinda, really hammer this point home in the final 10 minutes, as you get a sense of missed opportunities to reconcile between the pair. But speaking of missed opportunities, Guggenheim asks Gates if he had any regrets over Allen, but Gates apparently doesn’t answer, and the camera cuts away.
Overall, the second episode of Decoding Bill Gates gives viewers the most well-rounded look at the experiences that shaped its subject’s career and world view. We’ll leave the reviews to the critics, but in terms of pure entertainment and insight into one of the most successful entrepreneurs in modern history, this is the hour of the series to check out.