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A.I.: Artificial Intelligence

Haley Joel Osment
Jude Law
Frances O'Connor
Sam Robards
Steven Spielberg

Spielberg with Haley Joel Osment

In development for over twenty years, legendary filmmakers Stanley Kubrick and Steven Spielberg had always planned to produce A.I. together. Following Kubrick's untimely death in March 1999, Spielberg decided to continue with the project, even going on to write the screenplay himself, something he hadn't done since penning Close Encounters of the Third Kind in 1977.

A.I., a fairy tale set in the future, spotlights a robotic boy named David (Haley Joel Osment). He is the first robot to be programmed to love. Adopted by Henry and Monica Swinton (Sam Robards & Frances O'Connor), David is accepted by his new 'parents' until a series of unfortunate incidents convince them that he's too dangerous to keep. Leaving him in the forest, David must now begin his long journey of self-discovery. Along the way, he befriends another robot named Gigolo Joe (Jude Law), who attempts to help David make his greatest wish come true - to become human.

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Starburst #276


"I think it was the careful blend of science and humanity (in A.I.), that made me anxious for Stanley to tell it, and after he was gone, led me to want to tell it for him."
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"I talked with Steven about to what extent I would make David robotic. We decided that, as we progressed and I learned more as a robot about the world, my experiences would make me more and more human and less mechanical. As David learns, many of the physical characteristics fade, but some of the subtle ones never go away."
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SPIELBERG on writing the screenplay:
"It was like getting my wisdom teeth pulled all over again, because Stanley was sitting on the seat back behind me saying, 'No, don't do that!' I felt like I was being coached by a ghost. I finally just had to kind of be disrespectful to the extent that I needed to be able to write this, not from Stanley's experience, but from mine. Still, I was like an archaeologist, picking up the pieces of a civilization, putting Stanley's picture back together again."
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FRANCES O'CONNOR on her first meeting with Steven Spielberg:
"It was intimidating because you've seen him on television doing interviews, and suddenly you're in a room talking to Steven Spielberg. He's a very personable person, and he has a very interesting perspective on the world."
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"(As humans) we create stuff and we throw it out when a newer model comes out. It's a disposable society and certainly, from my character's point of view, I brought that child in as a toy. Our relationship was crumbling, and I had to get Monica back to the spark that we had at the beginning. Our other kid, for all intents and purposes, is gone and I'm saying, 'Here honey, it's a shiny new toy. Play with him.'"
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"In the world of A.I., mankind has started to rely a lot more on mechanical devices - 'mechas' - to take over very simple jobs. And it goes even as far as robots for pleasure-seeking. Joe is there to entertain and to fulfill the need of his customers. He is the male version of the sex mecha."
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"Jude Law's robot is five or ten years old. Robots like Joe are built with a specific purpose. But David meets up with him by chance. David becomes very attached to Joe. And Joe also undergoes a change. As David becomes more human, Joe does in a way as well."

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Text by Judy Sloane. All images © Warner Brothers / Dreamworks SKG.
Feature © Visual Imagination 2001. Not for reproduction

Starburst #276, published 12 JulyFilm Review Special #35, Summer Blockbusters previewStarburst Special #48, Summer Blockbusters