Spielberg is like it or not an iconoclast of sorts. A shrewd business man, a sell-out, and an artist. At least when he wants to be. His storytelling has laid the fabric in many young filmmakers’ understanding of story and that may because he makes his movies with big budgets and bigger advertising so that his flicks have reached every one of us but don’t his images linger? It seems people are too quick to betray an artist that moved them at his or her most popular or when a great misstep has been taken. The missteps are numerous in his case and mostly because they wreak of a paycheck but again this is a human being here and his reputation as a moneymaker and a studio rescuer must keep intact: they way we all do.
Brush whatever views push you away; Kubrick, no Kubrick; “AI” is a masterpiece of modern storytelling. Admire the first act, dreamy, bathed in light and smokey diffusion, introducing science fiction to the realm of philosophy as it ponders the loss of a child and how we infuse our fears and desires into everything we make- even machines. The second act plunges into the circle of horror, prejudice amongst modernity, cybernetic gigolos, our rampaging vanity in the face of a dying world, and the hope of love forever hanging above the malice. The third act, post-apocalyptic, the world beneath, the one we left behind, the myths we’ve mutated and those that link us to our own analogous humanity. The ending is seen as sappy or out of the blue but how else would one end it? With a boy alone at the bottom of the sea? That’s what I once thought but what a creepy, pessimistic view.
Instead Spielberg offers us a future void of any life where advanced creatures, so very evolved, scan the earth for the traces of love, compassion, and all that which is so ‘real’. Their gift to a young robot is the ability to die with the one person he loved despite her ambivalence and misguided warmth towards him. A boy robot is allowed to be a boy forever and die peacefully without ever understanding fully the horrors of the world around him. It’s tragic in a variety of ways and the biggest tragedy of all of them is when his mother abandons him in the beginning crying, “I’m sorry I never told you about the world.”