Anyone who has read some of the film reports posted at right will recognize immediately what lurks beneath the surface of A.I.--basically, more of the same hidden motifs, but here with the artistic mastery of Steven Spielberg. Peeling back a Spielberg or Kubrick film is a rather unpleasant experience here at NWOIB; for, on one hand, we have great admiration for their expertise, yet we can't tolerate the underlying philosophies. Oh well, then.
The reader may want to read first the report on Stanley Kubrick's 1968 film 2001:A Space Odyssey, remembered mostly for the HAL 9000 AI computer, but less known for it's alchemical transformation of man theme.
The 2001 Spielberg/Kubrick production Artificial Intelligence is about an AI computer on a hero quest for alchemical transformation (lead to gold, man to gods, robot to real boy). So similar are the films that this might have been titled 2001's A.I.: An Earth Odyssey.
Any reviews on this film will inevitably tell you that AI is based on the fairy tale Pinocchio--and that is sort of true. While Pinnoccio forms the framework of the narrative, AI is actually based on the same theme that Pinocchio was: that of the alchemical transformation of the golem.
The golem is something we harp over quite a bit here--and you should too. Golem is the Hebrew word for unshaped substance or raw form (Psalm 139:16). God created mankind from the dust of the earth (Gen 2), then breathed the "breath of life" into him--the unshaped substance formed into the image of God.
The golem quest of AI is the search for transformation into god.
The film opens with this shot of a roiling ocean. The narrator tells us:
"Those were the years after the icecaps had melted because of the greenhouse gases. And the oceans had risen to drown so many cities along the shoreline. Amsterdam, Venice, New York... forever lost. Millions of people were displaced. Climates became chaotic. Hundreds of millions of people starved in poorer countries. Elsewhere, a high degree of prosperity survived when most governments in the developed world introduced legal sanctions to strictly license pregnancies, which was why robots, who are never hungry and did not consume resources beyond their first manufacture were so essential an economic link in the chain mail of society."There's a lot of propaganda packed in here: global warming, population control, resource sustainability, bad humans and good robots.
But most of all, notice the allusion to the Great Flood of Genesis. We know that God caused the flood because of man's wickedness; but here man is guilty of a different kind of sin: greenhouse gasses. Mankind are carbon-emitting eco-terrorists and this next great flood is punishment for our environmental sins.
We find that we are treading on some "religious" territory right from the opening shot.
We then see the Cybertronics logo, whose "M" design seems to allude to the Egyptian deity Osiris. This might appear to be a stretch at the moment, but it won't later.
The Cybertronics/Osiris logo is Professor Allen Hobby's. He is the father deity of the film, and as the creator of the mecha robots, the Gnostic demiurge.
Professor Allen Hobby says, "To create an artificial being has been the dream of man since the birth of science." In other words, science has enabled man to become creators--like God.
His company Cybertronics manufactures purpose-built robots called mechas--the ones so essential for the survival of society; but Hobby wants to do something new: he wants to create a robot that can love.
A woman in the audience says it isn't that hard to create a robot that loves, the trick is to make the owner love the robot back. She asks, "If a robot could genuinely love that person, what responsibility does a person hold toward that mecha in return?"
She then says, "It's a moral question isn't it?"
Hobby, "The oldest one of all. But in the beginning, didn't God create Adam to love Him?"
Hobby's question implies that we too are purpose-built golems. We already knew we were on Biblical grounds, but now the parallel has been drawn between God and man, and man and mecha. The man/mecha narrative will mirror the God/man relationship.
This mirroring is visually communicated by the mecha Sheila applying make-up.
That shot then fades into a shot of a woman applying make-up in a car.
These people are Henry and Monica Swinton, on their way to see their son.
Their son Martin is frozen in a cryogenic pod awaiting the science to find a cure for his disease.
On the wall we see various illustrations of fairy tales, ostensibly decorations for the children. But Henry and the doctor stop for a chat by the wall giving us a clear shot of the naked emperor from The Emperor's New Clothes fairy tale.
This emperor is clearly an allusion to God: their perception of Him is vain, self-centered and insecure like the emperor; that is why He created his "purpose-built love robots," so to speak. And just look at what pain His vanity has caused.
Henry, an employees of Cybertronics, brings home the new love robot, David ("beloved"). He is just a normal mecha at first; in order for him to love, the person who wants his love has to enter an imprinting protocol.
Kilroy was here. Anyone wanting to speculate on the possible Kilory allusion might begin here.
At dinner, we get this unusual shot. It appears that David has a halo of light. David, we will come to learn, is the christos child. This shot is symbolic of his divinity.
Hobby, remember, represents Osiris. And now we see that David is a god-child, or Horus.
And that would make Monica the goddess Isis; ergo, we have the moon symbolism running throughout the golem quest. AI's pagan trinity archetype:
Hobby = Osiris
Monica = Isis
David = Horus
Monica (Moonica) decides to keep David. There is a procedure to follow that changes David from a mere mecha to a robot that loves her. This is a big decision as once David is imprinted, he can never be resold, only destroyed if she decides not to keep him.
On the imprinting protocol, we see that there is a list of words to recite.
We also see that David is sitting on a circular rug with numbers. Hmm... a circle of numbers and words to recite. This is magic.
While we don't care to look too deeply at the significance of the numbers or words, suffice it to say that this is a magical incantation to bring the golem David "to life."
Arthur C. Clarke, who wrote the novel 2001:A Space Odyssey, said, "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic."
After the imprinting, David now loves Monica and calls her Mommy. Recall that Monica did not give birth to David: this is a technological immaculate conception.
If there is any doubt, later we see Monica remove an old toy robot bear from storage, turn on its power switch, then set it down in the center of the same circle where it then stands up.
A problem arises when Martin somehow gets better and return home. He was frozen, but is now resurrected. These same events will be mirrored later in the film with David.
David listens nearby as Monica reads Pinocchio to Martin.
After a sibling rivalry begins, Henry and Monica realize that they must get rid of David. Knowing that he must be destroyed, she tries to return him to Cybertronics, but can't bring herself to go through with it.
David is expelled from the Garden of Eden. Monica drops him off in the woods and tells him to run for it. David recalls that the Blue Fairy turned Pinocchio into a real boy. He decides to find the Blue Fairy so he too can become a real boy then return home to his mother whom he is programmed to love.
Thus begins the golem quest . The hero quest narrative typically has three stages, or phases:
The alchemical moon will guide David throughout his quest. The moon is a symbol of transformation--especially in propaganda films: think of any werewolf film, the moon/biohazard connection in Daredevil, the moon and monolith in Kubrick's 2001, and so on.
First the moon appears as a balloon carrying bounty hunters who catch him and a pleasure robot named Gigolo Joe.
The robots are brought to the Flesh Fair, also symbolized by the moon. This is where mechas are made sport of in a gladitorial style arena to "celebrate" life.
David and Joe are set to be executed. During the initiation stage of the hero quest, the hero must face intense challenges, sometimes with assistance--here it is Joe.
The announcer tells the crowd that this little boy is the latest "in their grand scheme to phase out all God's children."
"We are only demolishing artificiality!" This is quite high-minded speech for a mecha hunter. Could he be referring to the purpose of this stage of initiation?
"Let he who is without sim throw the first stone." Here alluding to Christ's words, we get our obligatory religious nut without compassion; they are always anti-technology, anti-progress (recall the Human Coalition in Surrogates).
David pleads for his life, something mechas never do, and the crowd turns on the announcer.
After escaping from the Flesh Fair, and passing the first test of initiation, David and Joe follow the moon to the Rouge City.
The roads leading into the Rouge City pass through big mouths, as though they are being swallowed. This is, of course, akin to Pinocchio being swallowed by the fish as well and the Biblical Jonah.
Rouge City is a debauched underworld, a libidinous playground where Gigolo Joe learned his trade.
So it's quite strange to find a chapel there; this is certainly not a flattering association. This alludes to religion being some kind of base desire, like sex, a very low-level activity--as Joe describes it: they go in, fold their hands, stare at their shoes and sing.
At first, David thinks that this is the Blue Fairy.
Joe tells him, "The ones who made us are always looking for the ones that made them." Here Joe reiterates the film's mirrored narrative, he then mentions that he has picked up a lot of business out front.
Next they visit Dr. Know, who can answer any question. Dr. Know tells them she is "at the end of the world where the lions weep."
This is gnosis, or enlightenment. Compare the stages of transformation with films like Death Race, 2001, or Semi-Pro.
David and Joe later escape from the police in the amphibicopter. As they fly away, we notice they fly through a big pair of lips. They entered the Rouge City through a mouth and exit from one as well; this symbolizes their being spit out from the fish, or leaving the underworld.
The significance of this we find in Matthew 12:40, "For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale's belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth."
The account of Jonah prefigures the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. In AI, we have already established that David is the divine christos child, so we can expect that he too will die and be resurrected.
They fly to the end of the world, Manhattan.
The place where lions weep is Rockefeller Center. This is where Hobby and Cybertronics are located.
Here David learns that he is not special, just one more of many. He becomes enraged and destroys another David. And again we see him shot with a halo of light.
David is actually based on Hobby's own dead son. Professor Hobby/Osiris is David's father.
David asks him, "Is Blue Fairy here too?"
Hobby: "I first heard of your Blue Fairy from Monica. What did you believe the Blue Fairy could do for you?"
David: "Make me a real boy."
Hobby: "But you are a real boy. At least as real as I've ever made one. Which by all reasonable accounts would make me your Blue Fairy."
David then learns that he was a test to see if he could find his way back to him, this would prove that David was truly capable of love, dreams, and desire. David is a success because he has demonstrated the ability to fulfill his own independent desires rather than what he was told to do.
Professor Hobby explains the test as such: "Where would your self-motivated reasoning take you? To the logical conclusion... that Blue Fairy is part of the great human flaw to wish for things that don't exist, or to the greatest single human gift... the ability to chase down our dreams."
Professor Hobby, the Osirian demiurge god-father, is essentially telling David that his dream is unobtainable. David is as real as he's going to get, i.e., he never going to transform or see his mother again. This does not speak well for the Hobby demiurge: his vanity has put people through this emotional wringer with no payoff at the end! No transformation, no Heaven. The quest was for nothing. The promise of Heaven is merely a fairy tale.
Notice that this message is found using reason and logic.
After this realization, David jumps from Rockefeller Center trying to kill himself. David has invested so much in his religion that after his belief system is shattered, the only option is suicide.
After he is rescued by Joe, David uses the Police amphibicopter to go to the Coney Island Pinocchio exhibit.
There he finally finds the Blue Fairy. Even after Hobby tells him there is no Blue Fairy, he still continues his quest--his desire for his mother is that strong.
And there he sits begging the Blue Fairy to make him into a real boy.
We then jump ahead 2000 years. The flood waters have frozen. Humanity is extinct.
David is discovered by aliens. Recall that we saw early in the film a boy frozen under glass: Monica's son Martin. Now we see the same "cryogenic pod" with David.
David goes to the Blue Fairy, touches her, and she shatters to pieces. Now he finally realizes that she--and his dream of becoming real--was just an illusion.
The aliens learn that David is a mecha with a record of the extinct humans, therefore he is again a special boy, unique in all the world. They recreate for him a simulation of his old home. A Blue Fairy meets him there based on the records of his quest.
Notice that she has the wings of a butterfly--symbolic of the transformation from a crude form to an ascended form. "Getting wings" represents achieving divinity. Here David is resurrected, unique, immortal, and back in his utopia. David is the "enduring memory of the human race."
The aliens can resurrect Monica using a piece of her hair, but she will only be alive for one day. This alien tells David that they found "the very fabric of space-time itself appeared to store information about every event which had ever occurred in the past."
What they discover was the so-called Akashic record, or Jung's collective unconscious, the over-mind, a big aethereal data warehouse in the sky.
This is David's dream come true, back with his mother in Heaven. However, their roles are reversed now: at the start of the film David was brought home to Monica; now Monica is brought home to David. Previously, Monica/Isis tried to "resurrect" her son; now the son is resurrecting the mother. He wakes her up in the morning, makes her coffee, tells her stories, and tucks her into bed that night.
Her final words are, "I love you, David. I do love you. I have always loved you."
The narrator tells us, "That was the everlasting moment he had been waiting for."
David then lies with his mother and closes his eyes for the first time in the film as we are told for the first time in his life he went to the place where dreams are born.
Thus he has completed the final stage of the golem/hero quest (return) successfully and he is at peace.
So what you're getting while watching AI is a massive dose of Jungian psychoanalysis--a 2+ hour session. This sort of Hollywood archetype (symbol) therapy is predicated on the notion that you, like David early in the film, have a mental disorder which keeps you attached to an erroneous belief system--belief in God, Christianity, the idea of someday reuniting with Him. The purpose of films like this is to "heal" you of this disorder. This is the order of the new world: God is removed from the top position and replaced with man.
Thomas Carlyle on the power of symbols:
"In a symbol there is concealment and yet revelation: here therefore, by silence and by speech acting together, comes a double significance. In the symbol proper, what we can call a symbol, there is ever, more or less distinctly and directly, some embodiment and revelation of the Infinite; the Infinite is made to blend itself with the Finite, to stand visible, and as it were, attainable there. By symbols, accordingly, is man guided and commanded, made happy, made wretched."For an explanation on how these symbols are imposed onto the viewers' unconscious, refer to our recent post Hollywood and the Third Commandment.