Saturday, June 12, 2004

I saw portions of AI today together with my parents. The movie was initially conceived by Stanley Kubrick who planned to work on it shortly before he passed away; after his death Steven Spielberg ended up remaking the screenplay and producing it.

The result, though, seems to me to be a Kubrick movie rather than a Spielberg movie.

The trademark feature of Kubrick's movies is the detachment of the viewer from the inner world of the characters. The events on the screen appear remote and almost surreal. Even in movies that are outwardly realistic, Eyes Wide Shut for example, the viewer constantly maintains a sense that the events on the screen are chimerical, presented as part of an imagined narrative.

Spielberg, on the other hand, makes movies which feel extraordinary realistic. Maybe you have not thought of Jurassic Park as realism before, but it is. The movie takes great pains to make the dinosaurs look real, to make the sequence of events in the movie appear plausible, to get you to put yourself into the shoes of one of the characters. We are treated to a parade of details (electric fences blaring, leaves rustling, dinosaurs growling) designed to make us part of the fictional world.

AI presents us with a phantasmagoria of images, neither one of which we can identify with or place ourselves in. Each image is elaborately constructed and plays a precise role in the fable -- which we end up observing without emotion, never losing track of its fictional status.


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