The Sad Meaning of A.I.

I used to idolize Steven Spielberg, feeling that he could do no cinematic wrong. Though I remain a devoted fan, I’ve become more realistic about his work. Spielberg is definitely not perfect. However, whether working at his peak (E.T. – The Extra-Terrestrial, Schindler’s List) or below it (Always, Hook), Spielberg consistently remains the cinematic master at pulling people’s emotional strings (well, Frank Capra might also deserve that title, but perhaps nobody else).

It was for this reason that Stanley Kubrick involved Spielberg in A.I. – Artificial Intelligence. The old and young masters have much in common in their work, both repeatedly dealing with two of our greatest problems, themselves related — our struggles with technology, and our obsession with violence, war and hate. In execution, though, they are flip sides of a coin, Spielberg being the dreamer, Kubrick the bringer of nightmares. Kubrick knew that A.I., dealing so integrally with the pursuit of love and the relationship between child and mother, was something he could not succeed at on his own. Enter Spielberg, legendary for his work with child actors, child-mother relationships and rites of passage from child to adult (The Sugarland Express, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, E.T., Poltergeist, Empire of the Sun, Hook).

As critics have amply pointed out, A.I. is a genuine amalgamation of the two’s sensibilities. Nowhere is the connection — and tension — more apparent than in the film’s climax. The artificial boy David’s quest, symbol of all quests but especially those for fulfillment and belonging, ends with the deepest of satisfactions after centuries of heartache. It seems to be pure Spielberg, with its benevolent creatures and fulfilling mother and child reunion, a happy Spielbergian dream just as David’s own first dream is sure to be when he goes to sleep for the first time after that special day.

But is this really what’s going on? I don’t think so. Not in the slightest. Uncovering the meaning behind this strange ending brings the entire film into focus.

A key rule in statistics is to never generalize from anecdotal evidence. Nevertheless: everyone I know who has seen A.I. has reacted in intellectual astonishment but with little emotion. This includes myself, the eternal sucker for a Spielberg heartstring-tugger (and often a sucker for lesser gushy works from lesser filmmakers). Sure, there were moments of genuine emotion — David’s spinach-induced face dribble, the supertoy Teddy’s deadpan “I’m going to break” before he falls from the Flesh Fair balloon — but I’m going out on a limb to suggest that an emotional response is not primarily what this movie hopes to get from its viewers. I’m not (necessarily) suggesting that this is because Spielberg can’t possibly fail in an attempt to tug at heartstrings, and so therefore he simply must have had something else in mind. It has everything to do with the film’s happy ending, which I think is not so happy after all.

The movie begins by posing the twin questions: can a robot be built to love, and can a person genuinely love it in return? Of course, at least in the fictional world of the movie, we can make a robot love. It’s a logical development for the movie’s technocratic world that plunges poor countries into chaos, submerges our great coastal cities through global-warming-induced glacial melting, revels in strict population control and builds robots that are genuinely intelligent: sufficient technology can do just about anything, good or bad. The key question for the film is really the second one. The answer to the first must be yes and the answer to the second must be unknown for David to have his quest, for us to have a movie worth watching.

And, indeed, we spend the entire film watching people fail to love David. His human mother Monica seems to love him back at first, but the rest of her family is suspicious of him — or downright abusive. Eventually, even Monica abandons him, knowing full well that David, imprinted as he was, must remain forever devoted to her. It’s all downhill from there. David latches onto Pinocchio’s Blue Fairy and the idea of becoming real, just as so many of us latch onto one thing or other that we think will make us happy, make life worth living, make us feel truly alive (feeling “truly alive” sounds suspiciously like becoming the “real person” that David wants to be). Even Professor Hobby, who created David out a desire to make up for the loss of his own son, does not love David as anything more than an incredibly successful science experiment. (Is his name a coincidence, suggesting that building things is simply a pastime in which people should find mild enjoyment, or that genuine fulfillment can at best be a hobby rather than integral in one’s life?) The Blue Fairy is not the treasure it appears to be to David, hidden as it was at the bottom of the ocean. Instead, it is illusory, crumbling when finally approached. It is the carrot on the stick that is never attained, the symbol of falseness and futility in David’s symbolic — and pointless — everyquest.

The film then propels forward thousands of years into its final segment, and along come some mysterious creatures. No, they are not aliens — they are, as the filmmakers’ plans make clear, advanced robots. They are descendants of David — or, rather, they are the only remaining “descendants” of their creators, people who have long since eradicated themselves from the planet. It seems an odd path for the film to take, yet it makes perfect sense. Things — whether buildings, vehicles or David and his more advanced counterparts — are all that is left to represent humanity on the planet. And yet, though they may have survived where humans did not, the robots are made in the image of human creators — so even the advanced robots can never have been freed from David’s frustrations, because no robots could ever be freed from the frustrations of their creators. They cannot help but long for something they cannot find.

Like us, the advanced robots are entranced with history, hoping to learn something from the past since they cannot figure out their own present. They are entranced with their creators, entities relegated to the distant past just as so many people relegate our own creation to long ago but nevertheless find themselves dwelling on their creator in the present. They are thus fascinated by David, who is not only their “ancestor” — their “Adam,” a direct link to their creators — but someone that they themselves can play God with, creating a fake Monica for him just as some people created mechas for themselves. The fake Monica is an offering to that which they worship, intended to bring about good feelings for themselves.

In the end, David gets his happy ending. Underneath the surface, though, we see how pathetic a happy ending it is. The advanced robots have as their fondest hope the uncovering of the meaning of life, something they have failed to do themselves — something they hoped that humans might have shown them, despite they themselves having been programmed to be the ultimate manipulators of nature and technology (and, of course, despite their human creators not having that knowledge themselves). Unlike their creators, though, they at least know that technology cannot bring fulfillment. With their creators having obliterated themselves, they are disappointed in their quest and revel in the discovery of David, the unwanted artificial boy who is now their creators’ “living” legacy. (Strange, though, that the advanced robots are so thrilled to have actual memories of actual people when so many of those memories are so depressing.) They know that David can’t actually provide an ending for their quest, but they somehow hope that making David happy will put a dent in their own emptiness. And so, just as Hobby created a fake boy for wanting parents, the advanced robots create a fake Monica for the empty David. It is a Monica guaranteed to love him exclusively and unconditionally and only for a day — a Monica thoroughly unlike the real one. But David’s joy is palpable. Even if this Monica may disappear the next morning due to the vagaries of cloning technology, the satisfaction of the one happy day may last David for the rest of his long life.

But his happiness, the only genuine happiness portrayed in the movie, is based on a lie. A robot that can love ends up being no more of a solution to the emptiness felt by so many people — much less robots — than the conveniences of microwaves and air conditioning (and gigolo robots). It is just another step on the treadmill, another invention destined to fail us. All the cautionary Spielbergian and Kubrickian tales of technology gone awry come flooding at us in the most deeply ironic way at the end of A.I. Take the story at face value, and the suggestion is simply that it is possible to find love and be happy. Does it seem possible that this naive and simple thought could be the moral of the tale we’ve just been told? Hardly, given the complexity of the film — and the falsity of David’s happiness.

That the advanced robots closely resemble our current standard vision of the space alien is important here — it is not simply a misstep that the filmmakers’ failed to realize would cause confusion. Movie aliens are always humans in thematic disguise. Typically they are either everything we want to be (like those in Spielberg’s own Close Encounters or, especially, those in E.T.., the empathic botanists, brilliant scientists who somehow know how to live happily with “nature”) or everything we do not want to be (as in Independence Day or The Blob, in which, whatever the level of technology, the aliens can do nothing but destroy all in their path including, in the end, themselves). The robots are metaphoric aliens, and their utter lack of fulfillment, their failure to achieve of sense of belonging, is what makes them so — they are truly alienated. The same holds true for David — all too clear throughout the film. But, since all the robots fit the image of their human creators and thus share their creators’ own dissatisfactions, it is the people who created the aliens that are, in the end, revealed to be the aliens. Of course, this doesn’t suggest that the human species is alien to the planet Earth. But it does suggest that the particular kind of people who create a particularly unfulfilling life for themselves are something other than what they want to be, and that the particular kind of people who live in a way that is incompatible with the rest of the biosphere will be ousted from that very biosphere. Thus, we find the rarest of all movie aliens — the one that uncovers the entire meaning of the movie alien metaphor. We find ourselves. Whether as humans or our robotic creations, we see creatures that have pursued more and more mastery of nature and technology but remain as empty as always in their search for those things they think are most important, because they have no idea how to master themselves, how to make themselves be what they want themselves to be.

Whether David, Monica and her maladjusted family, the stagers of the anti-robot Flesh Fairs, Professor Hobby or the advanced robots, it seems that all the “people” (i.e., sentient and feeling beings) in A.I., regardless of the conflicts or differences they may have with each other, are all hopelessly longing. Only the other robots seem to have any real sense of satisfaction in what they are, and that’s because they all know for sure what they exist for. They are tools created by humanity to carry out specific functions, and they are content to fulfill their roles, just as a wrench or coffee maker might be if it were conscious. Their only moments of dissatisfaction seem to be when their very existence is threatened by the Flesh Fairs, and even then they seem okay with what they are. They do not wish in vain that they were a less controversial technology. Instead, they justify their existence by claiming themselves to be still useful, still fully capable of fulfilling the function for which they were built. Even those that are outmoded are proud of their utility, not hung up on progress or ambition like their makers are.

In the end, we are left with a condemnation of our very culture, a culture which is brilliant at making things but knows very little about what is good for people, a culture which continually strives for technological advances but never really finds satisfaction in those advances — and, indeed, has forgotten what generated that striving in the first place. The world of A.I. presents what may very well be a future for us, a future in which post-apocalypse means something much more ordinary than we normally think, a future in which things aren’t so different — and certainly no better — than they are now. We can create Dr. Know, the virtual library that can answer any question, but he can’t tell us what we really want to know, because we have to know it ourselves before we can program it into Dr. Know. We can create David and Darlene robots that know how to love so well that they are, in effect, real people, but in doing so we simply create more people who will be disappointed with their lives, more people who have to find their only happiness in falsities, in artifice, in things that are manufactured. The very existence of David is inextricable from the social and ecological devastation reaped by our culture — in reality and in the film. They are of a piece. Put real emotions in a robot, and it becomes impossible for that robot to be any better adjusted than any normal person — and thus impossible for that robot to ever provide any person with what its creator intended for it to provide. Only a creator who already knew how to provide that for a person could teach a robot how to do the same. Only a creator who already knew how to find it for him- or herself could teach a robot how to do the same.

In the end — literally, the ending of the movie — this is the sad meaning of A.I. Is artificial evil? Is technology evil? No. But they sure won’t solve our problems, and they make even create worse problems. The people at the Flesh Fairs know this, but they know no better than anyone else what it is that people actually need. Surely it’s not the Flesh Fairs themselves, filled — like so many other hate movements — with so much violence, rage and prejudice that hardly any room could possibly be left for happiness and fulfillment. Surely Professor Hobby knows no better, either. He can build the most incredible thing ever built, but, knowing better than anyone its artificiality, he would probably be even less capable than Monica of loving it back. Creating David ends up being no more of a miracle than having a baby, and both “mecha” David and “orga” babies are destined to remain in the dark along with everyone else in their sad culture, their only possible happy endings being deflections of reality like the ones so many of us go through everyday.

A.I. is an extremely brave film, ironically as subversive of our culture as other dystopian classics such as Brave New World and 1984, class critiques like the work of Karl Marx and even the film Titanic, anti-intellectual homilies like Forrest Gump and Being There. It is, perhaps, one of Spielberg’s best. Through the perspective presented here, it is revealed to be more typically Kubrickian than Spielbergian, indicating a great stretch for Spielberg as a filmmaker — indeed, a reinvention, if only for this one film. If the happy ending, though, is intended to be genuinely happy and stereotypically Spielbergian (something which I don’t think can possibly make any sense), it’s tough to say for sure just what kind of achievement the film is for Spielberg.

Since A.I., like these other tales, is a product of the very culture it critiques, perhaps we cannot fault it for failing to provide us with an alternative to our eternally dissatisfied and unsatisfying culture. For now, we may have to be content with films that merely hold up a mirror rather than pointing us in a new direction — and better that than to not even uncover our problems. Can we ever expect anyone to show us what goes on through the looking glass, in a world that knows how to accomplish what’s best for people while letting the rest fall where it may? Can we expect such a thing from a film? Since people are, indeed, going through that very cultural looking glass right now while remaining grounded in all other respects, I think the answer is yes. Whether or not they will make films, the ways of life they pursue are inventions that would put David to shame.

38 comments for “The Sad Meaning of A.I.

  1. Kim
    February 7, 2009 at 10:49 pm

    I luv this movie, it is uterly remarkable! A.I. makes me cry, since the ending and meaning is sad.

  2. Terry
    September 29, 2012 at 4:45 am

    I remember walking out of the cinema thinking ‘What a brilliant movie but i wish I had never seen it.” It was the saddest damn story I have ever seen.

  3. Mary
    October 14, 2012 at 5:48 pm

    I hated the ending!!! A better, more logical ending would have Dr. Hobby searching for and rescuing David from the water, helping him build a new life and arranging visits with Monica, her husband and son. David would work on friendships with more humans and help them survive any cataclysms in the coming centuries. There are so many more better possibilities for the ending.

    • Johnny
      July 11, 2015 at 6:31 am

      You’d be missing the whole point with an ending like that. The film makers chose to do it this way for a reason

  4. Mrs a m
    February 23, 2013 at 7:14 pm

    I think anyone whose lost a child would agree to anything to get a day like that!
    Hand me a hankie please. Thanks to two fab. Guys.

  5. juliette
    March 21, 2013 at 6:45 pm

    Hey,

    this is very interesting. I would just add 3 points I beleive are not mentionned. Sorry for my english :

    – Can we actually love David? David don’t eat, he is weird when he laugh, he has abnormal answers to certain behaviours (like jumping into a swiming pool and holding a kid in it), he keep saying “I love you mummy” what kid does that?, you need to program him before he loves you like you settle your ggogle account etc… I could not love David because he is not a real boy. I beleive this is why the film is not so emotional.

    – Monica took a strong decision when she said the words to David. She did not accept the responsability that goes with every big decision, or creation. If she would have, she would have destroyed David : that was the deal. Technology, creation imply responsibility. This is linked to the destruction of the nature (global warming, and final destruction of the human sepcy at the end) : humans don’t take responsibilities of their acts, they create first, and don’t know how to deal with it afterwards.

    – Does David really love is mum? Can love comes from nowhere, appears in a second and last for ages? Are we talking about love or obsession? Orgas keep saying that David looks so real, but that in fact he is not. What about is love? At the end, his “mummy” is here. Actually it is a clone that looks like his mum, but has not full memories of her life (she never talked about her family, Henry or Martin) : it looks like his mum, and David is happy with that. Maybe is love is not real, maybe like a real human who loves he make the choice to full himself… No answer to that in the movie.

    Anyway, a goodmovie.

    • March 22, 2013 at 9:29 am

      Thanks for your thoughts.

      I recently watched the movie again for the first time in probably a decade. I actually found it surprisingly emotional. Monica very definitely was not a responsible parent for David. She went into that relationship for all the wrong reasons. She needed love for herself instead of wanting to be, well, a parent, someone to give love to another. I’d wonder if maybe most people who might buy a David or Darlene would be in the same position.

      Maybe David’s love is not real love. But maybe it is — maybe David and Darlene are designed so that their “neural” wiring matches that of someone genuinely experiencing love. I think whether it’s obsession or love is less important than the fact that there is a real responsibility created toward the “child” by the parent, just as you say.

  6. David
    April 10, 2014 at 3:17 pm

    A better ending would be the end of the david’s battery and extraction of his memories and lock them back into a simulated world like Matrix where he could visualize himself as human with all of the family with a normal life span and when his life span would have completed than he would have been told the truth.

    • June 5, 2014 at 8:53 am

      Thanks for reading and for your thoughts. That would be a happier ending, for sure. Better is for each individual to decide 🙂

  7. mark
    February 19, 2015 at 10:10 pm

    Gosh, I ball my eyes out every time I’ve seen it and I dont know why. I just find it tragic. Only other movies that have this effect on me is up and gladiator. As i sit here wobderinf why I think theres a link between these three movies but not sure I can articulate it well. It tends to be about a person who is trying to battle for a love that they don’t have anymore… in up it was about honouring his wife. Same in gladiator… and in AI its abother battle towards a goal for a love.

    To get their love back, metaphorically or not, they had to endure great strife and fight evil and needed friends to hekp them get their goal. in up its the little boy. Gladiator his african griend. Ai had ted and john.

    There’s just something about it that hits me hard…. I don’t know.

    • February 20, 2015 at 8:50 am

      Thanks for sharing this, Mark. Nice connections with other movies. I’m a big fan of finding these kinds of common themes and threads across different stories, and also of trying to discover the connection between the things in stories that hit us hard as individuals and what those things can help us learn about ourselves.

    • Prof
      April 15, 2016 at 10:46 pm

      Do you think it is the emptiness that humanity is feeling because modern society has separated us from our evolutionary roots of family being a close connection between parents and their children and a community of a small number of families.

  8. John M
    February 27, 2015 at 6:57 am

    According to the writers of the movie, the first thirty minutes and last thirty minutes or so are exactly as Kubrick wanted. It was the darker center that was Spielberg. That all being said, you bring up excellent points regarding the implied morality of the film, but quite simply it’s nothing more than a longing for something real. Kubrick called the film Pinocchio until he died. Monica longs for her son abd refuses to let him go. The doctor makes that clear. David longs for love because love in itself desires reciprocity and in his desire to be loved ends up longing to be a real boy (Pinocchio) believing that will fulfill his other desire. That stems from Monica’s relationship with Martin. She pulls away from David when Martin returns. Older child with a new baby sibling syndrome perhaps? And of course all the robots longing to do what they do right up to their death in the flesh fair. This brings me to the clearly Kubrickian ending with the highly advanced robots (made quite clear by their reference to David as an original). They long to know the “ultimate question” and it’s answer (not 42 in this case). The meaning of life. Robots in times of humans were made with a purpose. These seem to have evolved to be human in nature (not appearance). They collectively and endlessly search for an answer never realizing that for each individual the answer can be quite different. They find satisfaction in bring joy to David. David find satisfaction in Monica declaring her love. And poor teddy is missed when his reason for life is to take care of David to the point he stands watch over David once he goes to sleep. Overall a beautiful movie and not that sad one you realize that it is about each person finding that one thing that brings reason to their life be it love or nurturing or giving or even working like Joe. We all must find our own thing, our own reason to exist.

    • February 27, 2015 at 10:45 am

      Thanks so much for reading and for sharing your thoughts. I can definitely get behind the idea that everyone must find their own path, their own reason to exist. Thanks again.

    • Prof
      April 15, 2016 at 10:26 pm

      Lovely comments

  9. AndrewDean
    July 10, 2015 at 7:09 pm

    This movie breaks my heart. Not because I feel bad for David, or the A.I. problem of never knowing the meaning of life for themselves(not just what they were programmed to do).

    My heart breaks for us. We are so beautiful, yet so ugly. So compassionate, yet so selfish. We are so flawed. How can our species not doom itself?

    I start to wonder, would the world/galaxy benefit more with us, or without us? Is our true purpose to create Artificial Intelligence, as our spiritual successor, as we can make their purpose flawless, without hate or violence.

    • July 10, 2015 at 7:13 pm

      Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts. We do have so many good and bad qualities. Our biggest problems, though, are cultural, and not really in human nature itself. I think any AI is likely to embody the flaws of its makers — so I don’t see it as our purpose. And I think if we abandoned our cultural dysfunctions and acted more in tune with who we are as a species, the world and the universe would be as fine with us as they are with other living things.

  10. August 1, 2015 at 2:10 pm

    Thanks so much for your write-up, Mark! It helped me better put in place what I think this movie was supposed to be. After having delved into Kubrick’s subtleties, perfectionism, sheer inhumaneness (I mean this positively, if you know what I mean) and profound insights (I for one believe he _did_ deal with quite a few “conspiracy theories” in his later movies) for the last few months, I have to say that I believe A.I. would have been a much more enjoyable film had Kubrick directed it. I think Spielberg was quite overwhelmed with it and just tried to do Kubrick justice. I also believe that the relationship between Kubrick and Spielberg was far from an intimate friendship and relatively one-sided (just speculation, but I believe that Kubrick was quite the loner who kept all but very few people (mostly his family probably) at bay. After reading your take on A.I., though, I immediately got the feeling and gratification that this definitely had been an ambitious and quite smart project (imho thanks to Kubrick mostly, though). I can’t get over my obsession with Kubrick, after all he was just a human being, but he certainly had an absolutely unique edge. 😀

    All the best,

    Alexander

    • August 1, 2015 at 8:35 pm

      Thanks so much for all your thoughts. I’m sure even Spielberg would be happy to give massive credit to Kubrick for this project. He may have realized it differently from how Kubrick would have, but I think he really felt like he wanted to complete the work that Kubrick had started. It can seem a little Spielberg-syrupy at times, but I do think there’s a darker heart even beneath those moments.

      • August 2, 2015 at 12:16 pm

        Absolutely, I think he wanted to do right by Kubrick above all.

  11. Devin
    September 15, 2015 at 3:26 am

    I just decided to watch this movie again on a whim. when I last saw this movie I was 18 and did not understand it. I thought it was a little bit goofy and didn’t really know what it was trying to be. Now I am 31 and getting ready to have my first baby a month from now! And i really have to say this movie hit me right in the feels (and yes I did still think some parts were a little goofy) but the ending to me was also very tragic. I immediately had to see if anybody else felt the way I did about it and low and behold I found this article. Anyways you sir, articulated your thoughts about the subject very well. I feel this movie is up there with “pans labyrinth” and “the lovely bones” emotionally wise, and also on subject matter. I only hope that this movie starts to get the recognition it deserves because I seem to remember people thinking it was a stinker when it first came out, but man was it a solid flick… anyways I’ve rambled enough.

    • September 15, 2015 at 9:04 am

      Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts, Devin. I’m with you. Ramble all you like 🙂

  12. Regina
    November 1, 2015 at 8:01 pm

    Just watched this movie for the first time and it was amazing. So much sadness intertwined with hope. David was so complex and simple at the same time. There was so much dichotomy.

    • November 2, 2015 at 9:26 am

      I’m really glad to hear that people like you are discovering this movie and finding it worthwhile. There’s so much there.

  13. Walter
    January 16, 2016 at 4:34 am

    I just finished watching it again after ten or so years and now just as then it left me feeling empty, sad, and it leaves me with a feeling of hopelessness, I don’t know but for some reason this movie always makes me look at my own mortality, anyone have a theory why? It will be another ten years before I watch it again because honestly it leaves me depressed for days. Great article and a great read….thank you.

    • January 16, 2016 at 9:12 am

      Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts. I know what you mean. It may not be the healthiest things to watch a movie like this too often. I haven’t seen it in years myself.

  14. Daniel Stevens
    April 20, 2016 at 1:22 am

    I remember watching this movie ten years ago and it affected me more powerfully than any movie I’ve ever seen. I’ve cried watching movies before, but this one dealt a blow to my gut and I was sobbing for an hour and called my mom at 4 in the morning after having watched it. I guess I’m a sap. Most of the people I’ve talked to about it didn’t even like it and I’m not quite sure why.

    • April 20, 2016 at 3:02 pm

      Thanks so much for sharing that. I’m also really surprised more people don’t respond emotionally to this movie.

  15. Calo
    April 24, 2016 at 12:59 pm

    The first time i saw A.I i wasn´t very impressed. Today i watched it twice, And im very sad now. Mr. Merrit your thoughts are very deep and gives the movie(especially the ending) a new dimension. truly one of the best comment i´ve read about the story. The story had a deep impact. one scene made me especially sad, whwn Monica is going to leave David alone in the woods. on IMDB qoutes:

    [Monica arrives in the woods with David, prepared to leave him there alone]

    Monica: [David makes the picnic blanket for them both] David, listen. Now… you won’t understand the reasons, but… I have – I have to leave you here.

    David: Is it a game?

    Monica: No.

    David: When will you come back for me?

    Monica: I’m not, David. You’ll have to be here by yourself.

    David: Alone?

    Monica: [Monica’s voice breaks with tears in her eyes] With Teddy.

    David: [David begins to uncontrollably cry] No. No, no, no, no, no, no! No, Mommy, please! No, no! Please, Mommy, no!

    Monica: Shh. Shh. Shh. They will destroy you, David. Please, David.

    David: No! No, Mommy! I’m sorry I broke myself. I’m so sorry I cut your hair off… And I’m sorry I hurt you and I hurt Martin.

    Monica: [Monica starts screaming as she begins to cry, holding David away from holding her] I have to go! I have to go! Stop it! Stop it! I have to go now.

    David: [Monica stands up as David continues to try and hold her] Mommy, no! Mommy! Mommy, if Pinocchio became a real… and I become a real boy, can I come home?

    Monica: That’s just a story.

    David: But a story tells what happens.

    Monica: [Monica runs back to the car where she gets on her knees to talk to David one last time] Stories are not real! You’re not real! Now, listen to me. Look. Look! Take this, all right? Take this. Don’t let anyone see how much it is, okay? Now, look, don’t go that way. Look! Look at me! Look! Don’t go that way. Go anywhere but that way or they’ll catch you. Don’t ever let them catch you! Listen, stay away from Flesh Fairs, away from where there are lots of people. Stay away from all people. Only others like you. Only Mecha are safe!

    David: [David cries with his two hands around Monica’s neck] Why do you wanna leave me? Why do you wanna leave me? I’m sorry I’m not real. If you let me, I’ll be so real for you.

    Monica: [Monica tries pulling off David, as she screams, throwing David off her] Let go. Let go, David. Let go!

    Monica: [Monica looks at David laying on the ground] I’m sorry I didn’t tell you about the world.

    oh my it´s so sad, sorry i´m not real ! heartwrecking.

    read the lyrics while listening to the master:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sOhnb7VI6jM

    p:S sorry for my english

    • April 25, 2016 at 9:40 am

      Thanks so much for this. Scenes like this really affirm just how heartbreaking a story this movie is. I totally agree.

  16. Richard Holmes
    September 30, 2016 at 12:14 pm

    A powerfull and criminally under-rated film, loved it 15 years ago..hadnt seen it since..yet brought the soundtrack after seeing it at the cinemas for John Williams hauntingly beautiful Piano score at the end and having stumbled across this brilliant article, I had to buy the Blu-Ray and watch it again…as im typing this the credits are still flowing down the screen as are the tears on my cheeks…..thank you

    • October 3, 2016 at 12:02 pm

      Thanks so much for sharing that. I’m glad my piece could play a part in this for you!

  17. Elvis Motumbo
    January 9, 2017 at 8:55 pm

    This is one of the saddest movies that I have ever seen. I find it very telling that the most “human” characters are actually the mechs. Thanks for the excellent write up!

    • January 9, 2017 at 11:21 pm

      Definitely a huge observation about who is “mechanical” and who is “human.” Thanks so much for reading and commenting.

  18. Shannon
    January 27, 2017 at 9:29 am

    This is one of the best movies I have ever seen, thank you for your article.. I thought the ending was the boy falling into the water but it just keeps going for another 2000 years. Hayley Joel is fantastic. I didn’t realise they were robots at the end, thought they were aliens. I don’t, I’m so confused and can’t believe a movie can stir so much emotion and thoughts within me. What am I fighting for? What is my purpose?. .

    • January 28, 2017 at 4:24 pm

      Thanks so much for writing here. When I first saw the movie, I also thought aliens. I read somewhere what they were and felt a bit bad that I hadn’t seen / figured it out for myself! I totally agree that this movie is so evocative of both emotion and thought. Not many movies do both the way this one does.

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