[Reiterated from a previous blog]
'The Best of Both Worlds' by Jonathan Rosenbaum
A.I. Artificial Intelligence - A Visual Study Part I and Part 2 by Ben Sampson
great lengths by many, as it should be, A.I. Artificial Intelligence needs to
be examined and debated and disagreed over. Analysis is warranted. So many have
long since provided deeper insights; at this point I have no major revelations
to offer, only a few observations and my own personal, clipped opinion of the
film's intentions and lasting philosophical message.
Stanley Kubrick was not an idiot. He wasn't naïve about Steven Spielberg as a filmmaker. There is a very specific reason he chose Spielberg to direct this film, and one that proves effective once you look beyond the surface-level sentimentalism. People think Kubrick would have rightly subverted the material had he directed, while not realizing the obviousness of such an outcome: Spielberg was the subversion, and a masterstroke of genius it was on Kubrick’s part to assign him the film. Moreover, Spielberg was not unaware of these reasons either, nor is he unable to recognize his own filmmaking sensibility and seize it antithetically when necessary.
We never see the outside placement of Harry and Monica's house. We never get a sense of just where exactly they live. This may seem trivial at first, but consider how common a practice it is in film to begin each new scene or setting with an establishing location shot i.e., a home, workplace, police station, castle etc. There's a general sense of geography that never really happens in A.I. The home of David's adopters seems to materialize from the inside out of nowhere – nowhere, in fact, becomes a place of its own in this film; because while the affordable livings and social lifestyles of Harry and Monica implies an upscale suburban setting, the small glimpses of their outside surroundings reveals just the opposite.
Behind Monica when she first encounters David is a open balcony revealing windblown trees beyond. During the couple's first sit-down meal with David in the dining room, notice through the background window a forest stretching the evening horizon. No streets, no neighborhoods; just endless wilderness under dark, watery ambiance. In later scenes we see Monica, David and Martin sharing a small boat along a forested lagoon, and a backyard birthday party is walled by fern and foliage, barely showing the house exterior.
Mossy primeval environments extends beyond the home setting, seemingly everywhere, on the road to Cybertronics, to the place of David’s abandonment, all-encompassing so that Flesh Fairs and even the sprawling Rouge City feel like secluded remnants of modern humankind amidst a larger natural world reborn. This of course plays into the film’s sci-fi conceit of a future Earth subject to extreme changes in climate and ecology, but it also refers the bedtime story metaphor of David’s quest for the Blue Fairy. The world depicted is at once a connotation of Christopher Robin’s Hundred Acre Wood and the inverted terrarium-like biosphere of Jurassic Park. Spielberg would revisit this aesthetic to a lesser extent and with more rainy, noirish effect in Minority Report.
Lastly is David himself. He's a monster, as much Frankenstein as he is Pinocchio. Rendered forever childlike and adorable, beneath the pleasantries is a spectrum of emotions made extreme. When David loves he loves absolutely and unconditionally. He's nice to his mommy. He hugs her and warms to her and makes her coffee. When darker emotions take hold David assumes strange forms and commits heinous acts. His programed loving smile behind a bedroom door glass is divided into multiple vertical planes, like a scan revealing synthetic repetition.
And less we forget the fact that David violently murders another David, not long before throwing himself from a skyscraper ledge; from homicide to suicide. David is a dark being. A.I. Artificial Intelligence is a dark film.