For this week, I am going to share my “takeaway” from Stephen Spielberg and Stanley Kubrick’s 2001 American science fiction film, A.I. Artificial Intelligence, which was the 20th episode of our podcast. You can check it out if you would like to hear more about the movie itself and any plot points that you’re curious about or if you would like to hear our conversation that develops a variety of themes throughout. I hope you enjoy thinking critically about the content! Feel free to comment, share any thoughts, or leave information on whatever movies you would like to hear about in the future!
A.I. Artificial Intelligence –
Official plot summary: “In a future where highly advanced robots known as ‘mechas’ exist, a robotic boy named David is uniquely programmed to experience human emotions and is adopted by a couple whose own son is in a coma. As he tries to become a real boy and win the love of his adoptive mother, David embarks on a quest to find the mythical ‘Blue Fairy,’ encountering challenges and adventures in a world that grapples with the blurred lines between artificial and human emotions. ‘A.I. Artificial Intelligence’ is a thought-provoking exploration of love, identity, and humanity in a world shaped by artificial intelligence.”
I find myself perplexed. Was this a good movie? I don’t think so – I didn’t really enjoy it. But then again, there are many reputable sources like Roger Ebert and many lists of “must-see” movies that would disagree with me, including Steven Spielberg himself. This movie was epic in scale and yet incredibly personal in its messaging. It was disturbing in the depravity that it showed in this futuristic world and yet David, as well as the inappropriately named Gigolo Joe, became in many ways two of the most innocent-minded protagonists I’ve ever seen. But my takeaway had far less to do with them than it had to do with the production team.
When I finished the film, I felt this massive weight of dark, dystopian dread of what the future could hold, like a fog that settles uncomfortably around you. What was the most tangible emotion that drove that fog into my mind? It was the depressing idea of anyone or any sentient thing living without community, love, or belonging. And where did that come from? It spilled out of the minds and hearts of the secular production company as they pieced this film together.
Have you seen a movie like this? A film with an agenda, but one that presents such a universal message that every human being watches and feels like they’ve been seen and understood. It’s not an agenda which pits humanity against each other. It’s an agenda that necessarily calls humanity together to understand the ways in which we all exist – together.
At one point in the film, this young robotic “boy” was searching a dark and deeply flooded Manhattan for hope and there is no walking away from that sequence with anything but dread. He finally finds what he’s been looking for, the culmination of this entire plot, but is disappointed and the hope that he had rest his sights on provided none of the salvation he hoped to find. It was all a waste, but he remained throughout millennia, praying to a lifeless statue for deliverance from his own personal and emotional hell. The viewer is met with incredible depths of those freezing waters and 2,000 years with just how desperate a life without love and community is – IN THE EYES OF THE PRODUCTION TEAM! This was not something for David to experience while we watch, completely untouched by this need in our lives. Every one of us watches this movie with some sense, conscious or unconscious, that no love, no community, no acceptance, and no meaning is the worst kind of nightmare. That is the only way that the plot could work and draw in the audience.
Not only that, but this secular movie made by secular creatives portrays the desperate desire for an eternal kind of love. That’s right, even humanists will find themselves dreaming of an endless kind of “home” to which they belong. We all want love to last forever. But anyone who ascribes to a worldview that removes possibility of the supernatural must be content with the idea that “love” and “memory” means absolutely nothing beyond this world. Perhaps one might be able to argue that it had evolutionary value to preserve one’s tribe, but where do we get this inescapable desire to be remembered by those who remain once we’ve passed or the need to hold on to the smiles and voices and laughs of those we’ve loved and lost? Why does the idea of love seem so underutilized in a reality in which humanity could die out and it was all for naught?
What if the God of the Bible were real? What if the Creator and Savior of our souls actually existed and met our needs in this place of desperation – where love seems wasted and our value and meaning is lost to history? What if love is not just a social construct that originates in our minds but is far greater? What if Love was God Himself and He looks an awful lot like what this production team is yearning for? What if we, as humans, are seeking fulfillment in stories and art when God is calling out to us, drawing us back into Himself to give us the love and meaning we’ve always hoped existed out there? All of these thoughts confirm the biblical doctrines of the Trinity which exists in eternal community, our being made in God’s image, the power of the collective Church, and that our needs can not ultimately be fulfilled internally. And this is why we can’t help but see God behind the silver screen. Even in our most humanist tendencies and humanity’s attempts to destroy our God and leave Him far behind, we remain lost and in need of a Savior. And I pray this Love is something that all who are reading this can see, experience, and welcome into their lives because God loves every single person He’s created. And His desire is for us to be settled into relationship with Him once again.
You can find our podcast at the following link: https://behindthesilverscreen.buzzsprout.com/
Love you all,