A.I - Directed by Steven Speilberg
Reviewed by Dennis Morton
The phrase 'Artificial Intelligence' has a certain cachet. It makes a good title for Stephen Spielberg's latest movie, which opened recently in area theatres. A more accurate but less artful title would have been 'Artificial Love', because it suggests the biggest of the many questions this film asks.
I remember the sensation I had, years ago, upon reading an op-ed piece by James Watson, the Nobel Laureate. He suggested that we humans ultimately boil down to a bag of elements, and that one day even the mystery of love would be reduced to a bio-chemical formula. The notion that there could be a physics of affection riled me. Even if it were so, love was the kind of mystery I could live with, the kind of mystery something inside me never wanted solved.
The first time I saw "A.I.", I left the
theatre in a state of perplexity. There were sections of the movie I loved,
and parts I felt ambiguous about. That's often not a good sign. But on
the strength of what I found compelling, I knew I'd return for a second
viewing. And now, four screenings later, I'm ready to see it again, and
again. Art is inexhaustible. It becomes richer and more mysterious with
every visitation. And such is the case with Spielberg's "Artificial Intelligence".
"A.I." is set in the near future. Global
warming has melted the polar ice-caps. Coastal cities around the world
are inundated. The wealthiest nations have imposed sanctions on childbirth
and robots have been developed to deliver services once provided by working
men and women. There are even robots for sex. In one memorable scene, a
character named Gigolo Joe says to his client Patricia, "once you've had
a lover robot, you'll never want a real man again."
Copyright Dennis Morton 2001