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From: "Tony Ellis" <LittleSense@necronomicon.co.uk>
Subject: (urth) O.T. and A.I. (spoilers)
Date: Sat, 6 Oct 2001 18:05:45 +0100

Since it's rather quiet around here right now, I hope no one minds if I add
my rather wordy two pence to the AI thread, the film having only just made
it to these shores. You can always skip it. :-)

Super-Toys Last All Summer Long being one of my favourite Brian Aldiss short
stories, I've been actively dreading this film for over a year now, ever
since I first heard that Spielberg was filming it as Pinocchio with CGI.
Although as Adam Stephanidies says, the blame for that originates with

I can't agree that the first part of the picture is brilliantly directed. A
film about a robot boy who can love that opens with a lecture from an
idealistic scientist to his students explaining that they're going to make a
robot boy who can love. does not impress me much. Worse, what we get in
these first few minutes is pretty much what we get for the next half hour: a
lecture. I got the impression Spielberg was so worried that because this was
a science fiction film people wouldn't treat it as Serious Art, he
deliberately made this first part as po-faced and joyless as he could. Even
the colours are muted, as if anything too bright might arouse the audience
to dangerous levels of entertainment.

The middle section is a lot livelier, which is to say it's a completely
different film, with a fine performance by Jude Law. I can't argue with the
points made in this thread that the Rouge City sequence is heavy-handed and
pastiche Bladerunner, but hell, at least it gave us something interesting to
look at. Spielberg could have made the whole film more watchable, not to say
suspenseful, simply by opening with this section, and gradually explaining
how David came to be on the run in a series of flashbacks.

I agree that David smashing his duplicate self is a stand-out moment. Just a
pity the director doesn't do anything with it. The scene where David finds
all the other Davids, boxed and ready for dispatch, might have made more of
an impact on me if I hadn't seen Buzz Lightyear, another toy in denial, do
the same thing five years earlier in Disney's Toy Story.

If it had ended with David underwater this would still have been a halfway
decent film. The 'second ending' as it is being called is cloyingly,
mawkishly, tediously sentimental, and I think Adam is giving the director
more credit than he deserves in seeing it as a psychological tragedy.
Spielberg is not exactly famous for his bleak, unhappy endings.

If he had shown David waking up the next morning beside the cold, stiff
corpse of his precious Mummy then maybe, yes. But Spielberg makes the film
end with the fatherly, fairytale narrator assuring us that a) David's last
moment with her lasted for ever as he had hoped, and that b) for the first
time ever, David dreamed that night. Translation: a) love can transcend
death, and b) Pinocchio became a real little boy in the end.

As for the dire psuedoscience wheeled on to justify this tearjerker ending.
All I can say is that people who found the end of The Amber Spyglass
contrived (which would include me) are unlikely to find this one much of an

What -really- annoys me about this film: I understand that it flopped in the
US. Here, my girlfriend and the friend we saw it with constituted one
quarter of the audience. Spielberg made an intelligent SF film and he made
it boring. Exactly how keen are the Hollywood money people going to be to
make another intelligent SF film in the next, say, hundred years?

PS: Did anyone else notice the misquote? The chorus to Yeats' poem The
Stolen Child is quoted - uncredited - several times, not just aloud but in
print: first on a holographic display, then on the door of the cybernetics
lab. But it should be "Come away, O human child!\To the waters -and- the
wild," not "To the waters of the wild." Yes, yes, I know, I'm a nit-picking
pedant, and it's not as if the mistake drastically changes the sense of the
poem, but all the same.

*More Wolfe info & archive of this list at http://www.urth.net/urth/

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