When a project takes this long in development there is a certain amount of commitment already dedicated to making it just right. Thus, no one had any qualms about a pre-production that was four months for some units and maybe longer. A.I. represents in Steven Spielberg’s career the perfect combination of his age-old sensitivities with his new found attitude. The heart and pure emotion that created such favorites as E.T. blends with a darker or perhaps just less fantastical perspective on humanity as demonstrated in Schindler’s List and Saving Private Ryan. It’s another signpost in Spielberg’s career that proves that we should never expect anything from him because he’ll always be out to surprise us and he knows he has no limitations.
A.I. is a film like all films should be, at least in the way it challenges the audience. Not every film will be this good or this well-produced and put together but there should be less films that just hit the audience and when it’s done all they can say is “OK, that was fun.” This film challenges the audience even while it keeps the narrative simple. This was the only American film last year that was great, thought-provoking and awe-inspiring and it fell on many a deaf ear and blind eye. Hopefully, its impact will grow as the years go by but I somehow doubt it. People can seldom take a director’s name out of consideration when he’s as famous and accomplished as Spielberg is. In an interview with an Australian writer he was asked, “Did you make a conscious decision to show all the aliens looking alike at the end of the movie?” Spielberg then responded “Well, number one they’re not aliens so let me clear that up right now. This is like the confusion in Private Ryan when people thought that the person who killed Adam Goldberg’s character was the same individual, the same German, that they let go earlier when in fact it wasn’t so, so there was a little confusion there.” He then explains the Mecha and then asks; “Now had Stanley directed it, would you still have thought they were aliens?” To which, the interviewer responds “Probably not.” And Spielberg seemed to have been infuriated by this admission, “See, this is a liability with my name on this picture right there! I am so identified with aliens!” (Carillo, 5).
Yet it’s been 20 years since he’s had an alien in one of his films. And Spielberg became a personality as opposed to a director in the eyes of many people. And the big difference is that a personality is not allowed to change. Whereas a director of lower profile like a Zemeckis, a Spielberg protégé, can go from Who Framed Roger Rabbit? to Forrest Gump to Contact to What Lies Beneath and while he’s a rather accomplished director no one will ever say, “Wow, this movie doesn’t seem like Zemeckis!” He hasn’t been made into a personality so people look at these films more objectively than Spielberg so efforts like Empire of the Sun and Amistad often flop with a resounding thud.
It will take some time for people to realize the massive scope of what Spielberg has and can accomplish and likewise for some of his films to reach the stature they deserve and none will take so long to reach the level of acceptance it deserves as A.I.
Artificial Intelligence: A.I. Dir. Steven Spielberg. Perf. Haley Joel Osment, Jude Law, Frances O’Connor, Sam Robards and Jake Thomas. DVD. DreamWorks Home Entertainment. 2002.
Black, Sue. “Jude Law” http://us.imdb.com/NewsFeatures/judelaw/
Clark, Mike “’A.I.’ gives chilly touch to human emotions” USA Today: 7/2/01
Ebert, Roger. “A.I.: Artificial Intelligence” The Chicago Sun-Times: 6/29/01
Fuson, Brian. “Fantasy World: ‘Potter,’ Rings’ join int’l elite” The Hollywood Reporter. March 5-11, 2002. 4, 94.
Goldsmith, Jeff. “Aldiss, Brian: A.I: Artificial Intelligence” HYPERLINK “http://www.urbancinefile.com.au/home/view.asp?a=5303&s=Interviews” http://www.urbancinefile.com.au/home/view.asp?a=5303&s=Interviews. 9/20/01
Leydon, Joe. “A.I. = Awesome Imaginations” The San Francisco Examiner
Jabor, Arnaldo. A Invasao das Salsichas Gigantes. “Morte de Kubrick foi a cena final do seu filme.” 173-175. Objetiva: Rio de Janeiro, 2001.
Keyishian, Marjorie. E-mail to the author. 5/3/02.
Pay It Forward. Dir. Mimi Leder. Perf. Kevin Spacey, Helen Hunt, Haley Joel Osment. Warner Brothers. DVD. 2001.
King, Stephen. “Building a Haunted House” TV Guide. 25-28 February 15-21, 2002
Robertson, Barbara. “Hi-Res Digerati.” The Hollywood Reporter. February 5-11, 2002. 14-15.
Schatz, Thomas. “The New Hollywood” Film Theory Goes to the Movies. Eds. Collins, Jim, Hilary Radner and Eva Preacher Collins. Routledge: New York, 1993. 8-37
Shining, The. Dir. Stanley Kubrick. Perf. Jack Nicholson, Shelley Duvall, Danny Lloyd and Scatman Crothers. DVD. Warner Brothers, 2001.
The Sixth Sense. Dir. M. Night Shyamalan. Perf. Bruce Willis, Haley Joel Osment, Toni Collette. Hollywood Pictures Home Video. DVD. 2000.
Sleeping Beauty. Dir. Clyde Geromini et al. Perf. Mary Costa, Bill Shirley, Elanor Audrey. VHS. Walt Disney Home Video, 1997.
Smith, Neil “A.I. (2001)” BBCi: 9/12/01
Turan, Keith. “Mechanically Inclined” The Los Angeles Times