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So, I hear, artificial intelligence is coming to a world near you or your great grandchildren’s. Would it look more like Terminator or A.I.? A. I. (2001; Warnings: Disturbing thematic elements, violent content, and sex-related material.) poses a question, whether deliberately or implicitly, of what would it mean to have artificial lifeforms in the human world?
In a climate decimated future, some parents have artificially intelligent children because this is better economics. A couple who lost their natural-born child are given David (Haley Joel Osment), an A.I. who can love mother and faither unconditionally.
David wants to be loved unconditionally as well, but mother is put off by this unreal, artificial “life form”. Therefore, David’s human need for love is frustrated, but he hopes the “Blue Fairy” (a character in the book Pinocchio) will grant him his wish of being loved which means he will have to become a real boy like other boys who are loved as they are real boys.
But it takes him on a journey through the “new earth” to find what he is looking for, along with his robotic teddy bear and another artificial intelligence programmed to be a gigolo.
A problem with artificial intelligence is apparent in A.I. Some are made close to human likeness, even to the point of emotions such as needing love, but human beings may not be able to reciprocate the A.I.’s need for love because there is the sense that they are unreal.
A.I. manages to get across well what it is about, and it is an important film about what the future could hold and what new human-like technology may mean for humanity.
As a thematic aside: How does referring to the Creator who made us change or reinforce perceptions of creating other forms of life such as A.I’s? Is artificial intelligence made in man’s image and not God’s image? Are A.I.’s valid forms of life if not made in God’s image? Can God meet their needs like God can meet a human’s need?
The movie shows that the needs of artificial intelligence can possibly be supported. So, A.I. is hopeful that their needs can be met. A satisfied artificial intelligence is like a satisfied human being. Both have needs that should be met to function in the world and the future world, together. There are other speculative elements to the future world with the emergence of alien life forms settling on earth.
A.I. is quieter and more clinical than most of Steven Spielberg’s films. The cold first half has those disturbing themes the censor’s note told you about—themes like a creepy brother, and boys being cruel to someone different. That someone different is David reiterating the theme of loving someone or something artificial as difficult. In the second half, it is better to go through life with someone kind by your side.
Also, a film of resplendent cinematography, production design, and visual effects, but also some quietly effective performances, those being Haley Joel Osment, Frances O’Connor and Jude Law, who do not come on always strong, but convey vulnerability. The robotic teddy is a nice, congenial companion.