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YoungArthur
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A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001)
04. Apr 2002 at 15:39
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**Lots of SPOILERS if you haven't seen it**
*the DVD 2-disk special edition is LOADED with neat extras - even some of Kubrick's original storyboards*

This started as some stray ruminations but I guess it turned into another review, so I put it over here.

Well, most of my misgivings about AI were due to my not having paid attention the first time.  The various commentaries here and on the DVD itself have helped me a lot.

I have viewed it again three times and have fallen in love with it.  And of course I fell in love with Haley's character.  Isn't he a darling?  I would have loved, cuddled and protected David even if he were a boy made up from cheese scraps.

They make a robot boy and by some very fancy tinkering with neurons and sub-neurons they implant a capacity to love that can be activated by reading off an imprinting protocol.  We're asked to accept this; it is a fairy tale, after all.  But it seems that this implanting is only a crude first step that leads to David's growth into a boy with all of a human's spiritual capacities.  So the focus of the movie is not on a robot coming to love, but on a robot boy becoming 'real.'

In the opening, David simply responds as programmed up to the time that Monica does the imprinting.  From that point on he begins a series of life experiences that cause him to grow, emotionally at least, into a 'real boy.'  David behaves more and more like a true boy as the story progresses until, at the end, he is able to weep for joy.  I found it a sweet irony that even as the 'mecha' Blue Fairy tells him she cannot make him real,  David has already, through his trials, achieved humanity.

At first,  I had trouble believing David's love for a mother who would dump him and her appearance at the end did not satisfy me.  But I missed a lot of details and, somehow, failed to see her cruel dilemma.  David appeared to be a danger to her natural son. Yet she did love the odd little boy and could not bear to see him returned and destroyed.

On first look,  I was jarred and displeased by Gigolo Joe, the Flesh Fair, and most of Rouge City; all those bad old Kubrick elements that apparently put off so many movie-goers.  My cornball heart didn't want to ruin a sweet story with brutal or flashy interludes.  But they gave the story depth - how else was David to have the hard experiences which would work to transform him?  And I missed the clever parallels to scenes and characters in the story of Pinocchio.  I read the story to tatters when I was seven - I loved it.  

In the book, Pinocchio and a fellow puppet are threatened with death by an angry puppet theater manager but are saved by an outcry of sympathy from the audience (the Flesh Fair).  Gigolo Joe's leading David to Rouge City is very like the bad boy wheedling Pinocchio into taking off for the 'Land of Boobies.' (Pleasure Island in the Disney film)  David even goes underwater to seek the Blue Fairy, as Pinocchio finds his father underwater, inside the Dog-fish (whale, in the Disney version.)  There are others.

I think Gigolo Joe is there mainly for contrast:  David's love is all intense devotion; Joe is designed for carnality only.  (I did find it odd that Joe makes insightful speeches re Mecha versus Man that seem way above and beyond his design function.)

Did you notice that David focused on Monica even before she did the imprinting?  

And was that school of fish that guides David to the place of the Blue Fairy the only overt piece of magic in the movie, or am I missing something?

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« Last Edit: 29. Jun 2008 at 04:43 by Zabladowski »  
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Sir Jacob
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A.I - Another Viewing
Reply #1 - 05. Apr 2002 at 18:04
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YoungArthur, this is an interesting review, and definitely thought-provoking! I have to admit that I didn't notice many of the things that you mentioned here, until I read your review and remembered things just as you had.

<i>I was jarred and displeased by Gigolo Joe, the Flesh Fair, and most of Rouge City...</i>

Me, too. Smiley 

You even make good points about that aspect of the movie, though, and give me pause to reflect. I think maybe you're right. Maybe I was too hard on the old Gigilo. The analogy with Pinochio is definitely there, though I hadn't really thought of it before.

Thanks for the review. Smiley

Love,
Sir Jacob
  
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cal-Q-L8
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Reply #2 - 06. Apr 2002 at 03:20
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Thanks for the very interesting review YA.
« Last Edit: 06. Feb 2004 at 08:12 by cal-Q-L8 »  
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Reply #3 - 06. Apr 2002 at 20:46
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Great review Young Aurthur.  

To me the story makes the most sense when you look at it as a story told by the future mechas seen at the end of the movie to explain David and to try and make sense of their own existence.



(Edited by Pelle at 6:01 am on April 7, 2002)
  
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YoungArthur
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Reply #4 - 06. Apr 2002 at 22:32
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Pelle,  that's a really neat point!  It went right by me that the voices of the narrator and the mecha leader were both Ben Kingsley.  Well, I noticed it but not what it signified.

This view would also suggest that David's final fate was an act of mercy on the part of those 'beings.'
  
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del bosque
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Reply #5 - 21. Apr 2002 at 18:05
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I can't improve on YoungArthur's review though I would
like to mention the use of colors in this great, great film
made by one of the best directors now working.  An
interesting color is at the start of the pool scene where
David's mom and Dad are laying the tables with BLUE spoons, it just looks so weird. Haley is beyond praise
and how he didn't get an oscar.....!  The scene where he
cuts a lock of his mother's hair and defends it by explaining that he "wanted to make mommy love me
....MORE."  This is pure cinema as another great
director used to say.  This movie is gonna LIVE.
  
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