A.I. ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE
Emotion is the last, controversial frontier in robot evolution. Robots are seen as sophisticated appliances. That is, until a robotic boy is programmed to love. His name is David. Spielberg brings Kubrick's project to the screen.


AI Artificial Intelligence
(2001)


This page was created on June 27, 2001
This page was last updated on May 21, 2005

Spielberg and Osment. Click to enlargeDirected by Steven Spielberg
Screenplay by Steven Spielberg
Screen Story Ian Watson
Short story by Brian Aldiss "Supertoys Last All Summer Long."

Haley Joel Osment .... David Swinton
Jude Law .... Gigolo Joe
Frances O'Connor .... Monica Swinton
Sam Robards .... Henry Swinton
Jake Thomas .... Martin Swinton
Brendan Gleeson .... Lord Johnson-Johnson
William Hurt .... Professor Hobby
Bonnie Curtis. Click to enlargeJack Angel .... Teddy (voice)
Keith Campbell .... Road Warrior
Kelly Felix .... Butler Mecca
John Harmon .... Medic Mecca
Ben Kingsley .... Narrator
Paul Isaac Martin .... Crash Test Dummy
Miguel Pérez .... A.R.T Repairman

Kathleen Kennedy. Click to enlargeProduced by Bonnie Curtis (producer), Jan Harlan (executive producer), Kathleen Kennedy (producer), Walter F. Parkes (executive producer), Steven Spielberg (producer)
Original music by John Williams
Cinematography by Janusz Kaminski
Film Editing by Michael Kahn

PG-13 - for some sexual content and violent images


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Click to enlarge
Click to enlargeDavid is 11 years old.
He weighs 60 pounds.
He is 4 feet, 6 inches tall.
He has brown hair.
His love is real.
But he is not.

STUDIO SYNOPSIS:
Click to enlargeIt is a time when natural resources are limited and technology is advancing at an astronomical pace. Where you live is monitored; what you eat is engineered; and the person serving you is not a person at all. It's artificial. Gardening, housekeeping, companionship -- there is a robot for every need. Except love.

Emotion is the last, controversial frontier in robot evolution. Robots are seen as sophisticated appliances; they're not supposed to have feelings. But with so many parents not yet approved to have children, the possibilities abound. Click to enlarge

And Cybertronics Manufacturing has created the solution.

His name is David (HALEY JOEL OSMENT).

A robotic boy, the first programmed to love, David is adopted as a test case by a Cybertronics employee (SAM ROBARDS) and his wife (FRANCES O'CONNOR), whose own terminally ill child has been cryogenically frozen until a cure can be found. Though he gradually becomes their child, with all the love and stewardship that entails, a series of unexpected circumstances make this life impossible for David.

Without final acceptance by humans or machines, and armed only with Teddy, his supertoy teddy bear and protector, David embarks on a journey to discover where he truly belongs, uncovering a world in which the line between robot and machine is both terrifyingly vast and profoundly thin.
© 2001 Warner Bros.

REVIEW
Things are different than they appear.

By David Bruce.

The truth this film proclaims is NOT on the surface:
Ultimately AI isNOT about:
--the future
--artificial intelligence.
--our love-hate relationship with machines
--the probability of intelligent robots, etc., etc.

Instead, the film IS about:
--real human limitations
--dehumanization
--the meaning of being human
--the power of unconditional love

H.G. Wells wrote "War of the Worlds" in 1898 to help the British understand what it is like to have your country invaded by an alien nation. The United Kingdom was invading and colonizing other countries. Through the use of Science Fiction, Wells became the moral voice of opposition to the actions of his country.

The popular Star Trek series, although set in the future and in far off galaxies, is really addressing current situations and conflicts.

Science Fiction has amazing power because it can address current realities with the necessary distance and detachment to convey its moral truth.

In the grand tradition of this genre, AI addresses current issues. The robots (Mechas) represent those we have been dehumanized for reasons of ethnicity, jealousy, and exploitation. Additionally, the robots represent the people we dispose of when they no longer have perceived usefulness and desirability. It is about the tragedy of disposable relationships, one-night stands, family breakdown, the slave trade and human exploitation. It is about the necessity of hope, faith and love, without which there is no survival.

AI is about the essence of becoming fully human.

Click to enlargeTHE DRIVING FORCE OF INNER DESIRES
The internal desire for unconditional love (presented symbolically as a longing for family) is the starting point of this film. And, it is its closing note.
Click to enlargeTOO GOOD TO BE TRUE
The desire of the mother's heart is realized. But can the child be fully accepted with unconditional love? There is no easy way this film could address the tragedies that children often face in our dehumanizing world except by making this child a robot. The film was released the very week a mother tragically killed all five of her children. Spielberg is addressing the agonizing problem of childhood trauma brought on by not being fully accepted by otherwise loving parents.
Click to enlargeTHE STRUGGLE TO LOVE THOSE WHO ARE DIFFERENT
"But, he's not real on the inside" Monica mourns. We, too, participate in the dehumanization of the child, because we don't see David as human. And yet through out the entire film we keep thinking, "This is Haley Joel Osment, a real human." Spielberg did not use a computer generated boy. He used a real human. We feel the inner conflict.

Click to enlargeACCEPTING
The process of accepting David into the family is intriguing to watch. Little David has our hearts despite our doubts and misgivings.

Click to enlargeLOVE
Love finally breaks through all barriers. We want this to be a real and unending love. We want this to last. And, so does David.
Click to enlargeIMPLANTING (BONDING)
Monica speaks the necessary words to program the implanting. And, this is what we want. We are totally with the mother in this scene. It has such a spiritual quality to it with light streaming in from above; the child is as a gift of God.
Click to enlargeDAVID AND HIS TEDDY
The irony of two mechanical things having a better and more loving relationship than the humans makes this story even more devastating. What a statement about our world. Like, oh my gosh!

Click to enlargeWE LIVE WITHIN STORY.
The mother reads the story of Pinocchio. Little David learns how the Blue Fairy turns the puppet into a real living boy. (The bedroom is blue -a similar blue scene will be used at the end of the film with the undersea Blue Fairy.)

We live in an information age. But Spielberg reminds us that facts and figures do not contain the essence of life. Story does. Truth is contained in our Fairy Tales and we live within our stories.

(Interesting link: Robert Benigni Draws Parallels Between Bible and Pinocchio)

Click to enlargeCRUEL BEHAVIOR
Like many real-life children, little David is teased and taunted by other little boys. Human cruelty in this scene leads to a disastrous crisis that ends the relationship of David to his family. (Note: The submerging of David foreshadows the ending)
Click to enlargeTHE ABANDONMENT
The film forces us to deal with the fact that human love is all too often conditional and revocable. We know that little David will be rejected by the mother and our hearts are already broken. The mother abandons little David in the forest as though David was an unwanted pet. She drives off, never to see David again in this lifetime. The tragedy of disposable relationships within our culture is devastating.
Click to enlargeFORSAKEN BUT HOPEFUL
Little David is able to survive because of the story (hope) he lives by. If he truly realized the devastating "flat facts" of his situation he would give up and die. His hope of becoming a real little boy, thus gaining his mother's love, motivates him. "Stories are real," David insists to Monica as she drives away from David. Faith, Hope and Love are the primary forces at work in this story.

Click to enlargeDEHUMANIZATION
The forest where David is left is littered with disposed robots. They are symbolic of the vast numbers of people that we have disposed of in our culture through racism, war, holocaust, abortion, infanticide, abandonment, family breakup, neglect, anger, selfishness -the list goes on and on.

Click to enlargeTHE CULTURE OF BOGUS LOVE
We are introduced to the culture of sexploitation, which borders the woods of dehumanization. Sexploitation and dehumanization always go hand in hand. When Gigolo Joe needs to escape, his only refuge is in the place of dehumanization. Even its name, Rouge City, is appropriate to its purpose, for rouge (blusher) sometimes gives women a false allure. Spielberg paints a devastating picture for us of our exploitative culture. We market human sensuality to fill our pockets with money. We are indeed a culture of greed.
Click to enlargeBOGUS LOVE TRANSFORMED BY REAL LOVE
Gigolo Joe (exploited lust) meets David (unconditional love) and transformation begins to take place as Joe begins his journey from dehumanization to full humanity. Unconditional love is the greatest force there is and this is what this film is all about.
Click to enlargeMIGHT IS NOT RIGHT
The forces that be use violence to exercise their illegitimate rule over others. Threats of abuse and violence intimidate and control so many in our culture. Spielberg now begins a look at violence -and how it can be overcome.
THE FLESH FAIR:
OVERCOMING VIOLENCE THROUGH SACRIFICIAL LOVE
(THE ULTIMATE POWER OF THE VICTIMS)
Click to enlargeTAKEN HOSTAGE BY EXPLOITATION
Little David is taken hostage by the culture of violence. He becomes symbolic of the many abused children all around us. With David are taken adult women and men. The culture of violence is no respecter of persons.
Click to enlargeClick to enlargeDavid becomes part of the vast numbers of nameless innocent prisoners in the Flesh Fair. A place of violence and death.

Click to enlargeTHE EXPLOITATIVE PROPHET OF VIOLENCE.
The crowd loves to see the robots killed by burning acid, fire and propellers. They yell for more... until little David is placed before them as a spotless little lamb for slaughter. The crowds finally see a victim as a full human being and are repulsed. They are suddenly sickened. David becomes the near-sacrifice that breaks the cycle of violence. The words of Jesus are quoted, "Let the one who is without sin cast the first stone." The attention of the crowd is turned from the victims to the attackers. Justice is served.

Click to enlargeVIOLENCE IS CONQUERED BY SACRIFICIAL LOVE.
The crowd loves to see the robots killed by burning acid, fire and propellors. They yell for more... until little David is placed before them as a spotless little lamb for slaughter. The crowds finally see a victim as a full human being and is repulsed. They are suddenly sickened. David becomes the near-sacrifice that breaks the cycle of violence. The words of Jesus are quoted, "Let the one who is without sin cast the first stone." The attention of the crowd is turned from the victims to the attackers. Justice is served.

David who represented the first Adam, now represents the second Adam.

Click to enlargeFREEDOM
David and Gigolo Joe are set free from their enslavement to the Skin Fair.
(MOULIN) ROUGE CITY:
TRANSCENDING POWER OF THE SPIRITUAL QUEST
(IN THE WORLD YET NOT OF IT)
Click to enlargeSENSUALITY DEVOID OF TRUE HUMANITY
The first stop in David's quest for the Blue Fairy is in Rouge City. David is traveling with Joe and this is the only place Joe knows. And actually, the only place a spiritual quest can begin is in the place where one is.
Click to enlargeTHE QUEST WITHIN THE CULTURE
God speaks through the culture, because people exist within the culture. Rouge City is where Joe knows women are and the Blue Fairy is a woman. Thus they begin.
Click to enlargeClick to enlargeBECOMING HUMAN
Little David isn't the only one who begins to exhibit signs of humanity. Watch for the subtle transformation of Joe. He has a tear on his cheek toward the end, watch for it.

Click to enlargeSPIRITUAL QUEST
There is a very interesting connection to the Virgin Mary and the cross of Jesus. On their search for the Blue Fairy they pass by "Our Lady of the Immaculate Heart" with a huge blue neon sign of Mary and the cross. "Is this the Blue Fairy?" David asks. And thus, Spielberg connects the journey for the Blue Fairy with the profound quest of Faith itself. The statue's name is also a reflection of David, for though he may not have a physical human heart, the love in his heart is truly immaculate.

Joe's commentary on human spirituality in this scene is significant. Referring to the humans who reverence the Virgin Mary, he states, "The ones who made us are always looking for the one who made them.''

Joe's remark ties back to the beginning of the film when Professor Hobby set the tone by saying, "Didn't God create Adam to love him?"

Joe's commentary also foreshadows the ending, when the advanced Mechas search for the memory of their maker.

Spielberg's film is not only a search for the meaning of true humanity, but also it is a search for God.

Spielberg connects David to the first human, Adam, in the opening scene. David is Spielberg's way of returning to the very essence and purpose of humanity (to love God). The captivity of the Mechas in the Flesh Fair speaks to the ancient slavery of the Jews in Egypt and to the more recent Holocaust. David is the "little child (that) shall lead them." Additionally, Joe (or Joseph) is a dancer (walker) on water (a messiah type). He serves as a Joseph/Moses character. He leads David into Rouge City (Joseph -into Egypt) and brings David out of Rouge City (Moses -out of Egypt). Manhattan is the apocalyptic end of the world where the "lions weep". David is the lion of Judah in scriptures. Israel means "One who struggles with God" (Jacob's fight with Yahweh). Similarly, David struggles for the love of his mother. The biblical connections are endless. Spielberg's rich Jewish heritage (seasoned with Christian images) is evident throughout the entire film. I counted 43 biblical connection during my second viewing of the film.

Click to enlargeCOMBINING FACTS AND FAIRY TALE
Spielberg reminds us, whenever he can, of the importance of story over dictionary type facts as a guide in life. Joe takes David to see the Dr. Know who combines "Flat Facts" within "Fairy Tales" to reveal truth and direction in life.

Spielberg is right to remind us that Story is primary. Facts are not. Many believe that the stories in the Bible are sort of a sugar coating for morals and Godly standards. This is not true. In the Bible, as with Spielberg, story is primary. Humans live within story, not flat facts.

MANHATTAN (THE END OF THE WORLD):
TRANSCENDING ETERNAL POWER OF DEVOTION
(PRAYER CHANGES THING)
Click to enlargePLUNGING INTO THE DEPTHS OF THE SOUL
The next stop is Manhattan, now partially submerged due to the melted polar ice caps. David's journey takes him to the depths of the ocean (soul) where he finds a Coney Island with its Pinocchio amusement ride complete with a giant statue of the Blue Fairy.

Click to enlargeTHE MEANING OF THE BLUE FAIRY
David goes into a 2000-year devotion to his symbol of Faith and Hope. Without giving away the ending, I will say that David's "prayer without ceasing" changes everything and even brings resurrection. Resurrection comes in two forms: The resurrection of David from his 2000-year water baptism (death to life) and the literal bodily resurrection of (?).

The creatures at the end, by the way, are not aliens. Rather, they are the advanced Mechas that have survived humans. Their search for human memory recalls the earlier quote, "(The) ones who made us are always looking for the one who made them.'' Again, in a very real sense, the film is about the search for true humanity, love and God.

"But now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love (1 Corinthians 13:13)." For, "God is love."

And so ends the story. And, "Stories are real."

Continue

Page 1- Review
Page 1a -Reviews cont. with bulletin board
Page 2- Spielberg's Homage to Kubrick
Page 3- The 30 Year Journey to the Screen
Page 4- Production of an Intelligent Adult Fairy Tale

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