• Post category:Movies
  • Post last modified:May 3, 2021

AI: Do Androids Dream?


aiIn a way, this is a tale of two men. They were both born in the U.S. Both made movies in Hollywood – one of them remained faithful to the dream factory, the other one considered his integrity threatened and moved to England. Both are admired by an entire world but the love isn’t universal. One of them has been accused of making movies that are slow, cold-hearted and pretentious. The other one has been told that his films are silly, sentimental and, yes, pretentious. They are Stanley Kubrick and Steven Spielberg, and AI became the film that fused their talents.

At first glance, this looks like one of the weirdest hybrids ever created. Kubrick showed interest in adapting Brian Aldiss’s short story “Supertoys Last All Summer Long” for the movies and he worked on that project for a while. When he died in 1997, Spielberg (who was already involved in the adaptation) followed his friend’s wishes and took up the baton. For these two filmmakers, who were so different, to become interested in the same story may seem odd, but it is a rich tale with ingredients that were bound to catch both men’s attention. The film was criticized for being too mushy, but it should be acknowledged that the most important theme here is emotions. Spielberg undeniably made sure the film is rich with sentiment but the rational Kubrick is always there in the background, his contributions in the script reminding Hollywood’s favorite son not to go overboard.

A “mecha kid” is adopted
The story takes us to the future where technological progress has made it possible to build robots with feelings. David (Haley Joel Osment) is one of those, a “mecha” kid, who is adopted by a couple whose real son is in cryostasis. When the son awakens and returns home, events force the family to abandon the manufactured boy in the forest. David subsequently goes on a journey hoping to find his “mother” again and with some help from other mechas (and the coolest, most adorable teddy bear you’ll ever see) tries to avoid running into mean-spirited humans.

Another version of “Pinocchio”
A little “boy” who wants to be human? Timeless questions about the nature of humanity? You got it, this is another version of “Pinocchio” but an interesting update it is (complete with a scene where it looks like David has been swallowed by a whale). I don’t think the film would have worked as well as it does, however, had young Osment not played David. He is so good at making you care for this little machine. His life is a tragedy; you know it is just not possible for his dream and desire to be fulfilled and satisfied, and Osment is up to the challenge of breaking your heart.

Spielberg’s work suffers from overlength and a midsection that fails to grab your attention, but every scene still has details that are worth a look, the visual effects work wonders, the production design and cinematography are striking and John Williams’s score very creative and moving.

The ingredients keep colliding – Kubrick’s cold technology and Spielberg’s cute toys, Kubrick’s brain and Spielberg’s heart. It’s like a train wreck and that alone is fascinating to watch, but the filmmakers do in fact have something in common. They both think big and out of the collisions comes something worth arguing about, something worth analyzing. That goes a long way.

AI Artificial Intelligence 2001-U.S. 145 min. Color. Produced by Kathleen Kennedy, Steven Spielberg, Bonnie Curtis. Written and directed by Steven Spielberg. Novella: Brian Aldiss (“Supertoys Last All Summer Long“). Cinematography: Janusz Kaminski. Music: John Williams. Cast: Haley Joel Osment (David), Jude Law (Gigolo Joe), Frances O’Connor (Monica Swinton), Brendan Gleeson, Sam Robards, William Hurt. Voices of Ben Kingsley, Robin Williams, Chris Rock, Meryl Streep.

Trivia: Industrial band Ministry performs at the Flesh Fair.

Last word: “I feel that ‘A. I.’ is a kind of warning to human beings about the ramifications of everything they create or produce. Because these mechanized devices will outlast them, and effect future generations in unimaginable and sometimes disturbing ways. So we have the opportunity and the choice, if we are aware, to leave behind a legacy of ruin, or of hope. And I was also relieved that my character gets a bit humanized himself too in the course of the story. You know, he learns to care about something beyond himself when he starts to care about David during their wandering.” (Law, Culture.com)



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