“Cinema is truth at 24 frames per second.”
– Jean-Luc Godard
“Cinema is lies at 24 frames per second.”
– Michael Haneke
Often, the best way to begin interpreting a work of art is to ask good questions of it. The following questions are not trivia prompts with open-and-shut answers to test one’s knowledge of the film; instead, they are meant to spark and sustain thoughtful engagement with the film, whether through individual reflection or discussion in a group setting. Do not feel impatient if you cannot easily answer any of the questions, and do not feel discouraged if any of the questions remain unanswered. Good films require multiple viewings; great films require a lifetime. A great film is alive, and its depths can only be plumbed with time, effort, contemplation, reflection. These questions are only meant to help you get started.
24 Questions on…
A.I. Artificial Intelligence
(2001, dir. Steven Spielberg)
- Who is telling the story? Who narrates the film?
- Why is the film set in a flooding world where childbirth must be legally sanctioned?
- What is the significance of the name Professor Allen Hobby? Why does he want to create a robot that can love?
- What is the difference between “love” and “sensuality”?
- How do humans and robots relate to each other? Are they capable of loving one another?
- Why are we first introduced to Monica when she is applying makeup to her face?
- Why are Martin and David both encased in ice and glass at different points in the film?
- Why is David named David? Why does his silhouette look like one of the future mecha when he first appears?
- What is the significance of Monica’s name? What about Henry’s? Martin’s?
- What role does Teddy play in the story? Why is he important?
- How does the Pinocchio story inform the film?
- Why does Martin’s birthday party take place at a swimming pool?
- How do Monica’s feelings towards David develop over the course of the film? Why does she imprint on him? Why does she abandon him in the woods?
- Why are we introduced to Gigolo Joe after David is abandoned? What role does he play in the story?
- David accidentally cuts Monica’s eye with scissors and a tear of blood falls on her face. Gigolo Joe mistakes the blood on his dead client’s face for a “tear”. Why?
- What beliefs underlie the Flesh Fair?
- What is the importance of the Moon throughout the film? What about other circular lights (lamps, etc.)?
- Why are Dr. Know and Our Lady of the Immaculate Heart in Rouge City, of all places?
- Why does David throw himself into the water in Manhattan? How is this similar to his submersion at Martin’s birthday party? How is it different?
- Why do the fish carry David to “the place where [the Blue Fairy] lives”?
- What is the meaning of Gigolo Joe’s final words (“I am… I was”)?
- Why does David find the Blue Fairy in an underwater amusement park? Why does he pray to her for 2,000 years, specifically?
- What do the future mecha want? How do they relate to David, and what exactly do they do for him?
- What is “the place where dreams are born”?