the engineer and irrational entrepreneur who became the richest man in the world

Elon Musk during the launch of the Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral, Florida on May 30, 2020.


Named personality of the year 2021 by the magazine Time, became the richest man in the world, with a heritage of 277 billion euros on 1er January, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index… The rise of Elon Musk, boss of SpaceX, manufacturer of reusable rockets, and Tesla electric cars, defies understanding when his personality, excessive and unpredictable, questions.

“I know, I say or post weird things, but that’s how my brain works, he justified during an American entertainment program in 2021. To those I have offended I will say: I reinvented the electric car, I will send people to Mars in a rocket! [il marque un temps sous les applaudissements pour ménager son effet]. You think I was gonna be a normal guy? »

Therefore abandoning psychology and controversy, director Abdel Mostefa chooses to approach the Musk “problem” from its scientific side. And it’s exciting. Passing quickly on the adolescence of the young geek born in South Africa, listing his beginnings as quickly as possible, he structures his scenario around the great inventions in which he believed and invested, against all financial logic.

Starting with the iconic Tesla. Thus, when in March 2004, Elon Musk placed his hopes and 7.5 million euros in the firm founded by two visionary engineers, Martin Eberhard and Marc Tarpenning, car manufacturers turned away from the 100% electric car, mainly because of the cost and size of its batteries.

Successes and risk-taking

This is to forget Elon Musk’s capacity for innovation, capable, among other things, of sending his roadster into space in February 2018 in front of 500,000 Americans to ensure his “com plan”. Without forgetting the darker side of the adventure, from the eviction of the two engineers to the accidents that occurred with the autonomous models. Nevertheless, in 2021, although having never made a profit, Tesla is valued on the stock market at 1,000 billion euros.

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Following the same framework – objective, means, assets, difficulties – the film details its other flagship projects, such as the Hyperloop, a train circulating in levitation in a tunnel at 1,200 km/h; Starlink, the Internet by satellite which must eradicate the white zones thanks to a constellation of 12,000 satellites; the Boring Company, a tunnel construction company, created following a tweet from December 7, 2016: “Corks drive me crazy. I’m going to buy a tunnel boring machine. »

Perhaps its greatest achievement, but also its greatest risk-taking, SpaceX is getting a special treatment. The documentary recalls the beginnings in 2001, under the mockery. Twenty years later, SpaceX supplies the International Space Station.

At times, the viewer has the impression of falling into science fiction. “Beneficial when it contributes to the reduction of energies; worrying when considering implanting chips in the human brain”, comments the voiceover. It is indeed difficult to remain rational about the 51-year-old businessman, whose avowed objective is to send 1 million Earthlings into space by 2050 to colonize Mars aboard the “Big Fucking Rocket” (the “fucking big rocket”).

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From Tesla to SpaceX: the world according to Elon Musk, by Abdel Mostefa (2022, Fr., 54 min). RMC Discovery

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