Magazine article The Christian Century

Search for Love

Magazine article The Christian Century

Search for Love

Article excerpt

MANY CRITICS SAY that A.I.: Artificial Intelligence is marred by a clash between the sensibilities of its two directors, the late Stanley Kubrick, who developed the concept, and Steven Spielberg, who completed the project. Whereas Kubrick produced cool, intellectual films, Spielberg has specialized in warmhearted pictures. But these critics are wrong. The film successfully meshes Kubrick's style of asking serious questions with Spielberg's unique style of evoking wonder and awe, as well as his ability to work with children, which is evident in Close Encounters' of the Third Kind (1977) and E.T. (1982). In A.I., he directs Haley Joel Osment in a remarkable performance as 12-year-old David, the scientifically created boy.

A.I. asks the question Kubrick posed in 2001: A Space Odyssey: What does it mean to live in a godless universe and not be satisfied with godlessness? A.I. is about a quest for personhood in that godless universe. The quest parallels the story of Pinocchio, which David's human mother reads to her children. That classic tale about a wooden puppet who wants to be human, and who searches for the Blue Fairy to grant him this desire, gives David the clue to how he will become human.

A.I. asks us to ponder how the need for love relates to our humanness. If we take the film literally, we will be trapped at the surface, wondering, as one critic does, why the bonding formula given to the mother was not also offered to the father. That's a good literal question, but to paraphrase a line from Spike Lee's film Do the Right Thing, if you want a story about two parents, make your own movie.

Other critics have complained that since David is obviously not human, why should we care about him anymore than we care about a toaster or a mechanical toy--or even a sophisticated computer like Hal, in 2001, who had to be disassembled to save the space ship? …

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