Artificial intelligence is coming to a world near you or your grandchildren’s. The question A.I. (2001) poses is what does it mean to for humans to have artificial life in society? In A.I’s future-scape, some parents have artificially intelligent children because it’s better economics than having your own children. A couple, who have lost their natural-born child, are given David (Haley Joel Osment), an A.I. who can love. Mother wants something from David that he’s programmed to give: love. The problem is David wants to be loved unconditionally as well, but mother is put off by this unreal, artificial “life form”.
David’s human need for love is frustrated and he hopes the “Blue Fairy” (a character in the book Pinocchio) will grant him his wish of being a real boy so mother will love him unconditionally. It takes him on a journey through the new earth to find what he’s looking for. Along with him on the journey are his robotic teddy bear and another artificial intelligence programmed to be a gigolo. The problems with artificial intelligence are apparent in A.I. Some are made closely to human likeness, but people can’t reciprocate the A.I.’s need for love. After all, they are unlovable because they are robotic and real humans may not relate to them.
As an aside: 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. However, in the second half, it is better to go through life with someone kind by your side.
The critics didn’t like how the film is split in two, between cold and warm, between cerebral and ‘fairy tale’. However, it gets across what it’s about well, it is an important film about what the future could hold and what artificial intelligence means for humanity.
It is 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 don’t come on always strong, but are conveying vulnerability. The robotic teddy is a nice, congenial companion.
Revised version, original published at Entertainmentnutz, 2001. A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001) Starring: Haley Joel Osment, Jude Law, Frances O’Connor. Directed by Steven Spielberg. Warnings: Disturbing thematic elements, violent content, and sex-related material.