Wednesday, July 4, 2001

'AI' raises some uncomfortable issues

I thought "AI" was a mind-blowing social commentary. It used the most advanced computer-generated effects to say humans contain boundless evil, but could evolve robots to embody their highest ideals and redeem their legacy. It was a warning, and it was great. It was also disturbing.

I expect sci-fi to challenge my beliefs and transport me beyond my mundane world with an innovative storyline. And this was so much more than Pinocchio. Although it was emotionally painful at times, with humanlike machines pleading for their lives, innocent in their goal to please their makers.

It was heartbreaking to see the wrinkly-faced, old man android explaining that he only needed a part replaced to do his job as he was carried to the stage of the Flesh Fair arena for mob disposal. It makes me cry all over again to think about it. I heard sniffles all around me in the theatre at several points.

I have not seen a movie more moving in its portrayal of mankind's monstrosity since "Life is Beautiful" and "The Green Mile." Yet here I didn't see any counterbalancing human grace, mainly just flesh and blood driven selfishly by needs and sick compulsions.

The film reflects the contempt man has for his world, and the exploitive new future he creates. It strips bare the idea we can satisfy any urge, even one as deep as motherly love, commercially.

William Hurt, who plays the inventor, defends the morality of creating a boy robot who loves, saying God created us to love and serve him. "AI" rattles the concept of commercial beneficence.

Mankind's life flashed before my eyes. And I don't have to die to see what could kill us, just consider the constant threats to social ethics.

Lana Sutton

Chattanooga, Tenn.

[Lana Middleton Sutton is a former reporter for The Citizen.]

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