A.I.: Artificial Intelligence

Inciting Event: The decision by Henry and Monica to adopt that child (David). This is what sets the story in motion.

First Plot Point: The first plot point, 23 minutes in, is when Monica imprints David. Now David has taken the irreversible step towards becoming human (though arguably it’s not a step he takes himself). He begins to love Monica. From this point on, he is as human as anyone with the same drives and fears, though the world will keep telling him he’s not. He is engaged with the story of being human. This is followed by the strong reaction of him responding to Monica’s love and need for love by becoming wholly her loving child.

First Pinch Point: At exactly the 37% mark, 36 minutes in, David eats some real food and suffers a physical breakdown, requiring engineers to come in and repair him. This is a powerful reminder from objective reality that he is not human.

Midpoint: Fifty minutes in, Monica abandons David in the middle of the forest, and tells him he will need to fend for himself and to be distrustful of humans (while giving a powerful example/reason for that distrust herself!). From this point on, he’s on his own, and he spends the rest of the movie (until the extra-long resolution) learning to be his own person, to reconcile his love, his dreams, with the fact that the world will not fulfill them. Immediately after being abandoned, David decides to formulate and follow his dream to find the blue fairy so she can make him a real boy, his “strong action” that kicks off the second half of the Second Act.

Second Pinch Point: Just over 60 minutes in, David and a bunch of other robots are captured by the Flesh Fair–which, as it unfolds, provides a powerful symbol of the message that David is not human. Even those who recognize that “a lot of love went into him” don’t see him as human.

Third Plot Point: The Second Act stretches out longer than usual, with the Third Plot Point only happening around 86 minutes in, a little late. This is where David finally meets Dr. Know and finds out the Blue Fairy is a fairy tale, not real. David is given the choice here: follow his dream whether or not it’s real, or give up on the dream and accept reality. Whilst the whole world screams that he’s not human, he is given one lifeline to follow his dream: to find the place at the end of the world where the lions weep.

Climax: The climax begins when David meets another David, which forces him to face the reality that he’s not unique. His reaction is predictable: he refuses reality and destroys the other David. Afterwards, his non-uniqueness, his non-humanity, is again shoved in his face by his own creator Professor Hobby, who admits that while David is the first, he’s not unique: only “real humans” such as his dead son can be truly unique. Whilst being congratulated for being an exceptional robot, David has proven by now that his dream of being human is far more powerful than the factual reality around him. Left alone for a moment by Professor Hobby, he explores the office and finds photos of the real David, and then discovers a factory full of other Davids.

Climactic Moment: Surrounded by countless copies of himself, seeing the futility in fighting reality (is there a point in destroying copies of himself, as he’s done before, when there are dozens and dozens before him?), David chooses death rather than giving up his dream. He throws himself off the building into the water. He is rescued by Gigolo Joe and given another chance to symbolize his dream, which he’s sacrificed everything for, by meeting a physical manifestation of it in the blue fairy.

Resolution: Perhaps, the Resolution should have been brief–David is fully committed to his dream of being human for all time and he’s proven it over and over again, even giving up on life and all of objective reality for it. However, this movie breaks from the standard structure by stretching out the Resolution and almost tagging an entire, heartbreaking mini-story at the end. Millennia pass, humanity is gone, and the advanced robotic descendants of humanity find David. They remove him from the ice and tell him he is now indeed unique from all points of view: he is the only entity in existence who was conscious when there were still humans around. But David doesn’t just want to be unique. He wants to be human too, to be accepted as his mother’s child. He is offered that, but the price is that he can only achieve it for one day, after which she will die permanently (and he with her, of course, since he has no other wish left). He pays that price: he spends one happy day with his mother and settles into eternal sleep with her.

(Submitted by Daniel Tenner.)

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