A.I. Artificial Intelligence
|A.I. Artificial Intelligence|
|Directed by||Steven Spielberg|
|Screenplay by||Steven Spielberg|
|Edited by||Michael Kahn|
|Music by||John Williams|
|Box office||$235.9 million|
A.I. Artificial Intelligence (also known as A.I.) is a 2001 American science fiction drama film written and directed by Steven Spielberg based on a screen story by Ian Watson and the 1969 short story "Supertoys Last All Summer Long" by Brian Aldiss. The film stars Haley Joel Osment, Jude Law, Frances O'Connor, Brendan Gleeson, and William Hurt. Set in a futuristic post-climate change society, A.I. tells the story of David (Osment), a childlike android uniquely programmed with the ability to love.
Development of A.I. originally began with producer-director Stanley Kubrick, after he acquired the rights to Aldiss' story in the early 1970s. Kubrick hired a series of writers until the mid-1990s, including Brian Aldiss, Bob Shaw, Ian Watson, and Sara Maitland. The film languished in development hell for years, partly because Kubrick felt computer-generated imagery was not advanced enough to create the David character, whom he believed no child actor would convincingly portray. In 1995, Kubrick handed A.I. to Spielberg, but the film did not gain momentum until Kubrick's death in 1999. Spielberg remained close to Watson's film treatment for the screenplay.
A.I. Artificial Intelligence was released in the United States on June 29, 2001, by Warner Bros. Pictures. The film received generally positive reviews from critics and grossed approximately $235 million against a budget of $100 million. It was nominated for Best Visual Effects and Best Original Score at the 74th Academy Awards. In a 2016 BBC poll of 177 critics around the world, A.I. Artificial Intelligence was voted the eighty-third-greatest film since 2000. A.I. is dedicated to Kubrick.
In the 22nd century, rising sea levels from global warming have wiped out coastal cities, reducing the world's population. Mecha, humanoid robots seemingly capable of complex thought but lacking in emotions, have been created.
In Madison, New Jersey, David, a prototype Mecha child capable of experiencing love, is given to Henry Swinton and his wife Monica, whose son Martin contracted a rare disease and has been placed in suspended animation. Monica feels uneasy with David, but eventually warms to him and activates his imprinting protocol, causing him to have an enduring, childlike love for her. David seeks to have Monica express the same love towards him. He also befriends Teddy, Martin's robotic teddy bear. Martin is unexpectedly cured of his disease and brought home. Martin becomes jealous of David, and taunts him to perform worrisome acts, such as cutting off locks of Monica's hair while she is sleeping. At a pool party, one of Martin's friends pokes David with a knife, triggering his self-protection programming. David grabs onto Martin, and they both fall into the pool. Martin is saved before he drowns, and Henry convinces Monica to return David to his creators to be destroyed. On the way there, Monica has a change of heart and spares David from destruction by leaving him in the woods. With Teddy as his only companion, David recalls The Adventures of Pinocchio and decides to find the Blue Fairy so that she may turn him into a real boy, which he believes will win back Monica's love.
David and Teddy are captured by a Flesh Fair, where obsolete Mecha are destroyed before jeering crowds. David is nearly destroyed himself and pleads for his life. The audience, deceived by David's realistic nature, revolts and allows David to escape alongside Gigolo Joe, a male prostitute Mecha on the run from authorities after being framed for murder. David, Teddy and Joe go to the decadent resort town of Rouge City, where "Dr. Know", a holographic answer engine, directs them to the top of Rockefeller Center in the flooded ruins of Manhattan and has also provided fairy tale information interpreted by David as suggesting that a Blue Fairy has the power to help him. Above the ruins of Manhattan, David meets Professor Hobby, his creator, who tells him that their meeting demonstrates David's ability to love and desire. David finds many copies of himself, including a female variant Darlene, boxed and ready to be shipped. Disheartened by his lost sense of individuality, David attempts suicide by falling from a skyscraper into the ocean. While underwater, David catches sight of a figure resembling the Blue Fairy before Joe rescues him in an amphibious aircraft. Before David can explain, Joe is captured via electromagnet by authorities. David and Teddy take control of the aircraft to see the Fairy, which turns out to be a statue from an attraction on Coney Island. The two become trapped when the Wonder Wheel falls on their vehicle. Believing the Blue Fairy to be real, David asks the statue to turn him into a real boy, and repeats this request until his internal power source is depleted.
Two thousand years later, humans are extinct and Manhattan is buried under glacial ice. The Mecha have evolved into an advanced form, and a group of them called the Specialists have become interested in learning about humanity. They find and revive David and Teddy. David walks to the frozen Blue Fairy statue, which collapses when he touches it. The Specialists reconstruct the Swinton family home from David's memories and explain to him, via an interactive image of the Blue Fairy, that it is impossible to make David a real boy. However, at David's insistence they use their scientific knowledge to recreate Monica through genetic material from the strand of hair that Teddy kept. This Monica can live for only one day, and the process cannot be repeated. David spends his happiest day with Monica, and as she falls asleep in the evening, she tells David that she has always loved him: "the everlasting moment he had been waiting for", the narrator says; "David falls asleep as well and goes to that place 'where dreams are born.'"
- Haley Joel Osment as David. Osment was Spielberg's first and only choice for the role. To portray the character, Osment avoided blinking his eyes and "programmed" himself with good posture.
- Jude Law as Gigolo Joe. To prepare for the role, Law studied the acting of Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly, whose movements Joe emulates.
- Frances O'Connor as Monica Swinton
- Sam Robards as Henry Swinton
- Jake Thomas as Martin Swinton
- William Hurt as Professor Allen Hobby
- Brendan Gleeson as Flesh Fair impresario Lord Johnson-Johnson
- Jack Angel as Teddy (voice)
- Ken Leung, Matt Winston, Eugene Osment, and Clark Gregg as Cybertronics Corp employees
- Enrico Colantoni as The Murderer
- Paula Malcomson as Patricia in Mirrored Room
- Adrian Grenier as Rouge City Teenager
- Robin Williams as Dr. Know (voice)
- Ben Kingsley as Specialist (voice)
- Meryl Streep as the Blue Fairy (voice)
- Chris Rock as Comedian Robot (voice)
- Erik Bauersfeld as Gardener (voice)
- Ministry and Kathryn Morris as Flesh Fair band
Kubrick began development on an adaptation of "Super-Toys Last All Summer Long" in the late 1970s, hiring the story's author, Brian Aldiss, to write a film treatment. In 1985, Kubrick asked Steven Spielberg to direct the film, with Kubrick producing. Warner Bros. agreed to co-finance A.I. and cover distribution duties. The film labored in development hell, and Aldiss was fired by Kubrick over creative differences in 1989. Bob Shaw briefly served as writer, leaving after six weeks due to Kubrick's demanding work schedule, and Ian Watson was hired as the new writer in March 1990. Aldiss later remarked, "Not only did the bastard fire me, he hired my enemy [Watson] instead." Kubrick handed Watson The Adventures of Pinocchio for inspiration, calling A.I. "a picaresque robot version of Pinocchio".
Three weeks later, Watson gave Kubrick his first story treatment, and concluded his work on A.I. in May 1991 with another treatment of 90 pages. Gigolo Joe was originally conceived as a G.I. Mecha, but Watson suggested changing him to a male prostitute. Kubrick joked, "I guess we lost the kiddie market." Meanwhile, Kubrick dropped A.I. to work on a film adaptation of Wartime Lies, feeling computer animation was not advanced enough to create the David character. However, after the release of Spielberg's Jurassic Park, with its innovative computer-generated imagery, it was announced in November 1993 that production of A.I. would begin in 1994. Dennis Muren and Ned Gorman, who worked on Jurassic Park, became visual effects supervisors, but Kubrick was displeased with their previsualization, and with the expense of hiring Industrial Light & Magic.
"Stanley [Kubrick] showed Steven [Spielberg] 650 drawings which he had, and the script and the story, everything. Stanley said, 'Look, why don't you direct it and I'll produce it.' Steven was almost in shock."
– Producer Jan Harlan, on Spielberg's first meeting with Kubrick about A.I.
In early 1994, the film was in pre-production with Christopher "Fangorn" Baker as concept artist, and Sara Maitland assisting on the story, which gave it "a feminist fairy-tale focus". Maitland said that Kubrick never referred to the film as A.I., but as Pinocchio. Chris Cunningham became the new visual effects supervisor. Some of his unproduced work for A.I. can be seen on the DVD, The Work of Director Chris Cunningham. Aside from considering computer animation, Kubrick also had Joseph Mazzello do a screen test for the lead role. Cunningham helped assemble a series of "little robot-type humans" for the David character. "We tried to construct a little boy with a movable rubber face to see whether we could make it look appealing," producer Jan Harlan reflected. "But it was a total failure, it looked awful." Hans Moravec was brought in as a technical consultant. Meanwhile, Kubrick and Harlan thought A.I. would be closer to Steven Spielberg's sensibilities as director. Kubrick handed the position to Spielberg in 1995, but Spielberg chose to direct other projects, and convinced Kubrick to remain as director. The film was put on hold due to Kubrick's commitment to Eyes Wide Shut (1999).
After Kubrick's death in March 1999, Harlan and Christiane Kubrick approached Spielberg to take over the director's position. By November 1999, Spielberg was writing the screenplay based on Watson's 90-page story treatment. It was his first solo screenplay credit since Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977). Spielberg remained close to Watson's treatment, but removed various sex scenes with Gigolo Joe. Pre-production was briefly halted during February 2000, because Spielberg pondered directing other projects, which were Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Minority Report, and Memoirs of a Geisha. The following month Spielberg announced that A.I. would be his next project, with Minority Report as a follow-up. When he decided to fast track A.I., Spielberg brought Chris Baker back as concept artist. Ian Watson reported that the final script was very faithful to Kubrick's vision, even the ending, which is often attributed to Spielberg, saying, "The final 20 minutes are pretty close to what I wrote for Stanley, and what Stanley wanted, faithfully filmed by Spielberg without added schmaltz."
The original start date was July 10, 2000, but filming was delayed until August. Aside from a couple of weeks shooting on location in Oxbow Regional Park in Oregon, A.I. was shot entirely using sound stages at Warner Bros. Studios and the Spruce Goose Dome in Long Beach, California. Spielberg copied Kubrick's obsessively secretive approach to filmmaking by refusing to give the complete script to cast and crew, banning press from the set, and making actors sign confidentiality agreements. Social robotics expert Cynthia Breazeal served as technical consultant during production. Costume designer Bob Ringwood studied pedestrians on the Las Vegas Strip for his influence on the Rouge City extras.
The film's soundtrack was released by Warner Sunset Records in 2001. The original score was composed and conducted by John Williams and featured singers Lara Fabian on two songs and Josh Groban on one. The film's score also had a limited release as an official "For your consideration Academy Promo", as well as a complete score issue by La-La Land Records in 2015. The band Ministry appears in the film playing the song "What About Us?" (but the song does not appear on the official soundtrack album).
Warner Bros. used an alternate reality game titled The Beast to promote the film. Over forty websites were created by Atomic Pictures in New York City (kept online at Cloudmakers.org) including the website for Cybertronics Corp. There were to be a series of video games for the Xbox video game console that followed the storyline of The Beast, but they went undeveloped. To avoid audiences mistaking A.I. for a family film, no action figures were created, although Hasbro released a talking Teddy following the film's release in June 2001.
A.I. Artificial Intelligence was released on VHS and DVD in the U.S. by DreamWorks Home Entertainment on March 5, 2002 in widescreen and full-screen 2-disc special editions featuring an extensive sixteen-part documentary detailing the film's development, production, music and visual effects. The bonus features also included interviews with Haley Joel Osment, Jude Law, Frances O'Connor, Steven Spielberg, and John Williams, two teaser trailers for the film's original theatrical release and an extensive photo gallery featuring production stills and Stanley Kubrick's original storyboards. It was released overseas by Warner Home Video.
The film was first released on Blu-ray in Japan by Warner Home Video on December 22, 2010, followed shortly after with a U.S release by Paramount Home Media Distribution (former owners of the DreamWorks catalog) on April 5, 2011. This Blu-ray featured the film newly remastered in high-definition and incorporated all the bonus features previously included on the 2-disc special-edition DVD. Warner Home Video currently owns the digital rights to the film worldwide.
The film opened in 3,242 theaters in the United States and Canada on June 29, 2001, earning $29.35 million during its opening weekend. A.I went on to gross $78.62 million in the U.S. and Canada. Opening on 524 screens in Japan, A.I. grossed almost 2 billion Yen in its first five days, the biggest June opening ever in Japan at the time, and sold more tickets in its opening weekend than Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace, although grossed slightly less. It went on to gross $78 million in Japan. It grossed $79 million in other foreign countries, for a worldwide total of $235.93 million.
Based on 194 reviews collected by Rotten Tomatoes, 74% of critics have been positive, and the average score is 6.62/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "A curious, not always seamless, amalgamation of Kubrick's chilly bleakness and Spielberg's warm-hearted optimism. A.I. is, in a word, fascinating." By comparison, Metacritic has calculated a weighted average score of 65 out of 100 based on reviews from 32 critics, which indicates "generally favorable reviews".
Producer Jan Harlan stated that Kubrick "would have applauded" the final film, while Kubrick's widow Christiane also enjoyed A.I. Brian Aldiss admired the film as well: "I thought what an inventive, intriguing, ingenious, involving film this was. There are flaws in it and I suppose I might have a personal quibble but it's so long since I wrote it." Of the film's ending, he wondered how it might have been had Kubrick directed the film: "That is one of the 'ifs' of film history—at least the ending indicates Spielberg adding some sugar to Kubrick's wine. The actual ending is overly sympathetic and moreover rather overtly engineered by a plot device that does not really bear credence. But it's a brilliant piece of film and of course it's a phenomenon because it contains the energies and talents of two brilliant filmmakers." Richard Corliss heavily praised Spielberg's direction, as well as the cast and visual effects.
Roger Ebert gave the film three stars out of a possible four, saying that it is "wonderful and maddening". Ebert later gave the film a full four stars and added it to his "Great Movies" list in 2011. Leonard Maltin, on the other hand, gives the film two stars out of four in his Movie Guide, writing: "[The] intriguing story draws us in, thanks in part to Osment's exceptional performance, but takes several wrong turns; ultimately, it just doesn't work. Spielberg rewrote the adaptation Stanley Kubrick commissioned of the Brian Aldiss short story 'Super Toys Last All Summer Long'; [the] result is a curious and uncomfortable hybrid of Kubrick and Spielberg sensibilities." However, he calls John Williams' music score "striking". Jonathan Rosenbaum compared A.I. to Solaris (1972), and praised both "Kubrick for proposing that Spielberg direct the project and Spielberg for doing his utmost to respect Kubrick's intentions while making it a profoundly personal work." Film critic Armond White, of the New York Press, praised the film noting that "each part of David's journey through carnal and sexual universes into the final eschatological devastation becomes as profoundly philosophical and contemplative as anything by cinema's most thoughtful, speculative artists – Borzage, Ozu, Demy, Tarkovsky." Filmmaker Billy Wilder hailed A.I. as "the most underrated film of the past few years." When British filmmaker Ken Russell saw the film, he wept during the ending.
Screenwriter Ian Watson has speculated, "Worldwide, A.I. was very successful (and the 4th-highest earner of the year) but it didn't do quite so well in America, because the film, so I'm told, was too poetical and intellectual in general for American tastes. Plus, quite a few critics in America misunderstood the film, thinking for instance that the Giacometti-style beings in the final 20 minutes were aliens (whereas they were robots of the future who had evolved themselves from the robots in the earlier part of the film) and also thinking that the final 20 minutes were a sentimental addition by Spielberg, whereas those scenes were exactly what I wrote for Stanley and exactly what he wanted, filmed faithfully by Spielberg."[note 1]
Mick LaSalle gave a largely negative review. "A.I. exhibits all its creators' bad traits and none of the good. So we end up with the structureless, meandering, slow-motion endlessness of Kubrick combined with the fuzzy, cuddly mindlessness of Spielberg." Dubbing it Spielberg's "first boring movie", LaSalle also believed the robots at the end of the film were aliens, and compared Gigolo Joe to the "useless" Jar Jar Binks, yet praised Robin Williams for his portrayal of a futuristic Albert Einstein.[failed verification] Peter Travers gave a mixed review, concluding "Spielberg cannot live up to Kubrick's darker side of the future.", but still put the film on his top ten list that year. David Denby in The New Yorker criticized A.I. for not adhering closely to his concept of the Pinocchio character. Spielberg responded to some of the criticisms of the film, stating that many of the "so called sentimental" elements of A.I., including the ending, were in fact Kubrick's and the darker elements were his own. However, Sara Maitland, who worked on the project with Kubrick in the 1990s, claimed that one of the reasons Kubrick never started production on A.I. was because he had a hard time making the ending work. James Berardinelli found the film "consistently involving, with moments of near-brilliance, but far from a masterpiece. In fact, as the long-awaited 'collaboration' of Kubrick and Spielberg, it ranks as something of a disappointment." Of the film's highly debated finale, he claimed, "There is no doubt that the concluding 30 minutes are all Spielberg; the outstanding question is where Kubrick's vision left off and Spielberg's began." John Simon of the National Review described A.I. "as an uneasy mix of trauma and treacle".
In 2002, Spielberg told film critic Joe Leydon that "People pretend to think they know Stanley Kubrick, and think they know me, when most of them don't know either of us". "And what's really funny about that is, all the parts of A.I. that people assume were Stanley's were mine. And all the parts of A.I. that people accuse me of sweetening and softening and sentimentalizing were all Stanley's. The teddy bear was Stanley's. The whole last 20 minutes of the movie was completely Stanley's. The whole first 35, 40 minutes of the film—all the stuff in the house—was word for word, from Stanley's screenplay. This was Stanley's vision." "Eighty percent of the critics got it all mixed up. But I could see why. Because, obviously, I've done a lot of movies where people have cried and have been sentimental. And I've been accused of sentimentalizing hard-core material. But in fact it was Stanley who did the sweetest parts of A.I., not me. I'm the guy who did the dark center of the movie, with the Flesh Fair and everything else. That's why he wanted me to make the movie in the first place. He said, 'This is much closer to your sensibilities than my own.'" He also added: "While there was divisiveness when A.I. came out, I felt that I had achieved Stanley's wishes, or goals."
Upon re-watching the film many years after its release, BBC film critic Mark Kermode apologized to Spielberg in an interview in January 2013 for "getting it wrong" on the film when he first viewed it in 2001. He now believes the film to be Spielberg's "enduring masterpiece".
Visual effects supervisors Dennis Muren, Stan Winston, Michael Lantieri, and Scott Farrar were nominated for the Academy Award for Best Visual Effects, while John Williams was nominated for Best Original Music Score. Steven Spielberg, Jude Law and Williams received nominations at the 59th Golden Globe Awards. A.I. was successful at the Saturn Awards, winning five awards, including Best Science Fiction Film along with Best Writing for Spielberg and Best Performance by a Younger Actor for Osment.
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