Facts and Fairy Tales: Setting the record straight on A.I.
"Eighty percent of the critics got it all mixed up…. it was Stanley who did the sweetest parts of 'A.I. … I'm the guy who did the dark center of the movie." - Steven Spielberg.
"People can misinterpret almost anything so that it coincides with views they already hold. They take from art what they already believe." - Stanley Kubrick
Long story short
"'Long story short' is a phrase whose origins are both complex and meandering" - Grandpa Simpson
One night in July of 2001 my roommate poked his head into my doorway and invited me to accompany him on the opening night of the latest Steven Spielberg film, "Artificial Intelligence". We still had about 45 minutes to catch the next showing, he explained. I remember that I was sitting at my computer working on one in a series of unfinished novels, and that I was in a pretty dark mood at the time, antagonistic even. I mumbled something dismissive in the shorthand that develops between old friends; something that could be interpreted as "Thanks but no thanks." He departed with a grunt that could be interpreted as "have it your way." He was already headed out the door when I had the sudden realization that it might be a good thing to get out of the house and out of my self-consumed head for a while.
Although I have generally been a fan of Spielberg's films, the trailers I had seen for A.I. were ambiguous and gave it the sheen of an E.T. redo. I am not a film buff by any definition, so I had not been following the build up to the release of the film. And though I was a casual fan of Science Fiction I had never read Brian Aldiss' short story. I was also unaware that it was a Stanley Kubrick project, though that information alone would not have made me more inclined to attend. I was just going for the sake of going… which in the end turned out to be a good enough reason.
Needless to say I was caught completely off guard. There was darkness to the film, one that was not suggested in the advertisements I had seen. From the moment A.I. opened with those slow pans of turbulent waves and Ben Kingsley's grim narrative about the drowning of the world, the film had the strong tone of a morality tale. There was also a definite philosophical subtext, something moving just beneath the surface of the story; a nuance undefined but evidenced in the subtle arrogance of The Visionary's presentation; in David's interactions with Gigolo Joe when the older Mecha tries to explain to David the oddness of Orga; in the tragic farce of the Flesh Faire and in the shocking revelation at the End Of The World that lead to David's disillusion. I remember thinking "This is a Spielberg film?" Not that Spielberg hadn't occasionally sprinkled his works with such themes, but never had he drenched them so.
Then I had a scare. There came the moment when David was praying to the Blue Fairy in the submerged ruins of Coney Island. I saw something so tragic and pitiful in that image: the eternal innocent lost in fervent, futile prayer to a false deity, asking for the realization of a dream that could never be. It was so fundamentally human and seemed to embrace the unavoidable tragedy of our mortality, that found myself unexpectedly moved. Then the narrator came back and the rhythm slowed and the whole scene took on the feeling of a cadence. I remember thinking "No! This can't be it. We went through all that for this?" But I could not see where it would go from there and so resigned myself to an utterly grim and hopeless conclusion.
Then came the third act; the one that would inspire so much controversy in message boards, and incite so much ire from the self-appointed arbiters of all things Kubrick. As the Supermecha, (or "aliens" as I will admit I originally assumed) popped onto the screen in their translucent flying device, the once quiet theater began to titter with chuckles and moans. I too was caught up in the immediate reaction. "OK, now it's getting silly," I thought. But as the film went on I became involved again. I had a sudden sense of where it was going and that underlying tone of tragedy grew pervasive as I understood this was the final resting place of all humanity. The game was over. The fat lady had sung her last song and left the building.
When David utters the words "Teddy, we're home" I flashed back to my childhood and hearing Dorothy say those same words, or something similar, to Toto. Tears were kind of unavoidable at that point. I cannot lie. I broke out. I thought, "Damn it! They got me." OK, now, he's just playing with your head. Feign a cough. Wipe the eyes. Why don't they put warnings on these things?
Then came the conclusion and an emotional impact that I was completely unprepared for, and which continued to affect me for months. But that's another story. It wasn't until the credits were rolling and I was clearing my throat to keep composure that I saw that the film involved Stanley Kubrick. "Oh!" I said aloud. "Now I get it."
I tell this story to show that I did not go to see AI with any preconceived notions. I was not exposed to the source story "Supertoys Last All Summer Long". I did not engage in any discussion of the film prior to seeing it. Nor was I familiar with the loose clique of Kubrick fans and their misconceptions that are the focus of this writing.
In the ensuing month I would see the film a total of 12 times. After that I would get hold of a fuzzy but adequate bootleg and rationalize my patronage of pirates with the idea that $150 in one month was more than my fair share. Then, for the first time since the old BBS days, I would join a message board. This time to take part in discussion of the film. That's where I encountered the critics, the flamers and the smug and quite often pompous interpreters of Kubrick... and where the battle began.
"I would not think of quarreling with your interpretation nor offering any other, as I have found it always the best policy to allow the film to speak for itself."- Stanley Kubrick
I am admittedly employing major generalities in categorizing the critics I encountered at the A.I. fan site. There were basically three types.
1. The Flamers, (a.k.a. Trolls or Drive-bys or just plain d**kheads) They are the most obnoxious and the most commonly encountered critics of A.I. … or anything for that matter. They said things like "Dude, this film sucked!" or "Only idiots would like this f***ing movie, dude!" or "You guys are a bunch of f*gs and this movie was a piece of f***ing crap!" Fascinating perspectives. To the extent I have been able to decipher their caustic commentary, the general thesis seemed to be "you all suck!" and not much else. Fortunately they tended to not hang around very long. Since they were not as interested in criticizing the film as they were in simply getting attention, they are as irrelevant to this essay as they are to life in general.
2. The Clueless: (a.k.a. Critics Without A Clue) These were not Flamers but were often confused for them. They criticized AI basically because 'it was stupid' or the 'ending was stupid', or "Spielberg is stupid" etc… Unfortunately that was often as far as it went. Even on those rare occasions when their criticisms were better voiced, no rational elaboration could be extracted because, apparently, no rational thought had been employed in developing them. They said things like "what was up with the aliens at the end?" and "Spielberg ruined the film with a feel good ending." The fact that they saw the demise of mankind coupled with Monica and David's death as a "feel good ending", is troubling and perhaps symptomatic of a deeper disturbance. It was amazing to see how many film critics fell into this category. I've always felt that the media was very kind in giving these people gainful employment and, in some cases, their own TV shows. Such a spirit of charity is what is so great about America. But since the Clueless perspective generally consisted of insubstantial rhetoric, they are also irrelevant to this writing.
3. The Uberheblich: (a.k.a. The Cine-Supremacists) In this category we find the elite of A.I. critics. They are generally intelligent, well read and opinionated… to a fault in many cases. What makes them formidable is that they really know their films. Kudos do where kudos due. They also know exactly how and why A.I. sucks and were quick to explain why everyone else didn't get it. They were generally film-students or film buffs, or the perfect storm of both. But it is also in this category that we find The Kubrickheads: the self-proclaimed experts on the works of Stanley Kubrick. Unlike the former categories, The Uberheblich actually had extensive reasoning behind their criticism of the film. "Spielberg Is Dead!" they proclaimed, descending from the Cyber-heights where mere mortals cannot roam, to grace our humble fan site and enlighten the weeping unwashed. They asserted that Kubrick gave the film to Spielberg as a joke. They said things like "Spielberg never really understood the story and therefore drowned essential subtext in a mire of emotional pandering," and "he tacked on the sappy ending to appease the appetite of the aesthetically challenged American audience." (But they said it better than that. Kudos again!) They quoted Jung and Hegel, pointed out the Freudian elements of the reunion. Most of us could only avert our eyes from these confusing references. The basic thrust of their posts seemed to be 'Forgive them, Father, for they know not what they like.' The truth is I have to be grateful to the Kubrickheads. It was their well voiced if poorly thought out criticisms that sent me on my vision quest to hopefully understand Stanley Kubrick. And it was in their assertions and posturing that I would eventually find their Achilles heel. It can be summed up thus: they can't admit when they're wrong.
First let me give a quick and, once again, an apologetically general outline of the Kubrickhead philosophy as I experienced it at the A.I. fan site: Kubrick is God. (Or if not the God, since, as Kubrick would tell you, God does not exist, he is at least a God.) His films are labyrinthine metaphors wherein every gesture, image, word, song, and even the placement of every object has some allegorical relevance that can only be interpreted by the wizened, scholarly heads of Kubrickian devotees. Everybody else simply cannot understand. This is a hyperbolic interpretation and for entertainment purposes only, but not so far off the mark. Of course, being equally opinionated, I disagreed.
My first encounter was with an intelligent if somewhat delusional Kubrickhead whose screen name will remain unmentioned. His interpretation of the film was constantly changing, sometimes right in the middle of one in a seemingly endless series of bizarre metaphorical diatribes. He wrote extensive and admirably deft essays on the sub-text and meaning of the film wherein he would make dazzling albeit strained associations between its various elements and just about anything he could yank from his amply endowed brain. He always culminated these posts with the incessant Kubrickhead refrain about how badly Spielberg screwed it all up. I used the word 'delusional' because there was a constant innuendo in his posts, a suggestion that his information was coming from some sort of an A.I. Deep Throat; a covert Kubrick devotee that had been involved in the making of the film and was now risking everything to get the word out to the deluded masses about how Spielberg had ruined the project. He implied that he could not reveal this persons identity lest it unleash the storm of litigation or perhaps the ghost of Stanley Kubrick would descend from above (I assume above) to vex him all for eternity. He had a beautiful mind.
My first sight of the bared and vulnerable flesh of their Achilles heel was in The Death Debate. It went on for weeks. It is too complicated to detail here, but the short version is, I asserted that David died in the end of the film. The Kubrickians said this could not be because the end was a dream sequence and that David had remained at the bottom of the ocean where the film should have ended and to where they thought Spielberg should be exiled. I pointed out the flaws in the dream sequence scenario and it went on (and on and on) from there. I had a lot to back me up but since Spielberg was respecting Kubrick's code of silence, mine was just another perspective. Then the DVD came out and John Williams confirmed my idea. My Kubrickhead adversary decided that Williams didn't know what he was talking about. After all, he was no expert. He was not a recognized member of the devotees. He just composed the score.
"Aha! I thought. "I see what's going on here." But at this point in the war I had insufficient ammo to engage in debate about the way Kubrick was being interpreted. So I got my Google on. That search brought me to one of the major flaws in the Kubrickhead philosophy.
For those who still are not aware, Stanley Kubrick adamantly refused to discuss his films. He would offer no official interpretation of his work, nor would he argue with anyone else's. As is suggested by the quote that prefaced this section, Kubrick believed that meaning is in the mind of the beholder. Or how about the following:
"How could we possibly appreciate the Mona Lisa if Leonardo had written at the bottom of the canvas: 'The lady is smiling because she is hiding a secret from her lover.' This would shackle the viewer to reality, and I don't want this to happen to 2001"
Thus spake Stanley about his legendary 2001: A Space Odyssey. Considering the complexity of this film, his silence left a substantial vacuum in its interpretation, one The Kubrickheads took it upon their lofty shoulders to fill. Numerous and complex interpretations of the film came out. Jan Harland once said Kubrick responded to one of the interpretations of 2001 with something along the lines of, 'Clever. I never would have thought of that.'
I believe the flaw in the way Kubrick's devotees interpreted his silence was in thinking that it was his way of goading interpretations, that he was making films from a didactic perspective, constructing elaborate puzzles for the viewer to sort out until they finally 'got it'. Nay, I say. In fact I think it could very well be quite the opposite.
In the last quote, Kubrick said he didn't want his viewers shackled to reality. To interpret his work as some sort of dialectic exercise is essentially shackling the film to a specific interpretation that must be derived through cold intellectual analysis. Being as Stanley said nothing of the film itself but, in commenting on its interpretation, implied that such a thing limited the very experience of art, it may very well be that 2001 was primarily an audio-visual experience from which many subtexts could be extracted. Or perhaps the purpose of the film itself was to help us evolve beyond the limiting, linear framework in which we view art.
"I don't think that writers or painters or filmmakers function because they have something they particularly want to say. They have something that they feel. And they like the art form; they like words, or the smell of paint, or celluloid and photographic images and working with actors. I don't think that any genuine artist has ever been oriented by some didactic point of view, even if he thought he was" - Stanley Kubrick
Kubrick was a genuine artist. He was a photographer at first. His art was imagery. He carried this talent into his films, which are rife with unforgettable images. He was adamant in his view that anything could be expressed in the medium of film.
"If it can be written, or thought, it can be filmed"
"A filmmaker has almost the same freedom as a novelist has when he buys himself some paper."
He would film scenes over and over, often just waiting for a happy accident to occur. When filming his classic "The Shining" Kubrick shot numerous takes of Jack Nicholson crossing a street. He was "waiting for something to happen" as he would later explain.
In filmmaking, the best laid plans of writers and directors often wind up on the cutting room floor. In our digital age that would be the "Deleted Scenes" section of the DVD. But there were no such things in those days. The process of filmmaking is not static, so no matter what the intention of the director going into the process, it will inevitably be altered by the act of filming itself. Filmmaking is a cooperative process. Out side of the ever present nightmare of budgeting, there are actors, lighting technicians, sound people, editors and often the weather itself that affect the finished product. That Kubrick was a master of this form means he knew that process, and belies the notion of the man as Zeus. I think he would better be painted as a J Edgar Hoover-esque character. A mad puppeteer, pulling strings rather than casting lightening bolts to achieve his ends; manipulating everyone involved towards a desired result. He was notorious for his silence agreements. Often multiple writers would be working on a project completely unaware of each other, in the same way Hoover would have covert operatives acting against enemies of the state, (real or imagined) completely unaware of each others presence.
Another reoccurring refrain from the Kubrickian choir is that Spielberg pandered to emotions whereas Kubrick would have remained aloof, intellectual… "dark" as they like to say. There is no doubt a real difference between the two filmmakers and I don't think even Spielberg would put himself in the same category as Stanley Kubrick. But it is true that Kubrick respected Spielberg and requested that he do the film, saying that he had to "right colors" for it. I don't think the tossed off notion that it was a joke or mistake will suffice. What is more difficult for Kubrickheads to do than admitting when they're wrong is admitting the man had weaknesses. Perhaps the reason he shelved A.I. was because he simply did not know how to make it work.
They claim he would have ended the film with David trapped beneath the waves, flipping the bird to our expectations and breaking the hearts of hopeless romantics like myself. The reasons why this is utter BS I will tell you about in the next section, but first I want to dispel this notion of Kubrick as a stoic, detached intellectual.
"A film is - or should be - more like music than like fiction. It should be a progression of moods and feelings. The theme, what's behind the emotion, the meaning, all that comes later." - Stanley Kubrick
"A progression of moods and feelings" indeed! Or how about:
"The screen is a magic medium. It has such power that it can retain interest as it conveys emotions and moods that no other art form can hope to tackle." - Stanley Kubrick
"Emotions and moods"? Are these the words of an aloof, calculating mind seeking to impart some a didactic point of view on his audience? Or would it more appropriately imply a man who sought, through film, to incite the complex element of human imagination and emotion, if not solely then in conjunction with the intellectual aspects of the films overt and covert narrative, in order to communicate his art? The latter, I submit, is the more likely conclusion.
To conclude this section I will use two classic examples of Kubrickhead hubris. The fist is simple: Excerpts from a conversation on a messageboard that I believe says it all.
These are from 2005, so the Kubricheads had more than enough time to understand the story. But but A.I. is still getting the usual bashing:
-It was great til about a half hour in. Until Spielbergs ET/Hook instincts took over. You are delusional if you think that Kubrick would have ended it like that.
-The ending of ai has to be the worst ending of all time. Kubrick rolled over in his grave
-AI [is] a film that IMHO would be remembered as a supremely dark, Kubrick-ian masterpiece if Spielberg didn't spoil it with its "happy" ending.
(And I love this one!)
-Any film student worth his salt knows that the ending was a Spielberg invention and not a Kubrick one.
-…if the movie had concluded 10 minutes earlier, with Osment underwater pleading for all eternity with that lifeless statue to fulfill his wish, it would have ended on a resoundingly chilling note that (correctly or not) few would doubt was Kubrick's. Instead, SOMEONE chose to let Osment have his wish outrageously realized by an intergalactic deus ex machina - IMHO an egregious betrayal of the film's challenging thematic underpinnings. It came across as the kind of audience-pandering choice that conveyed a lot more of Spielberg's humanistic sensibility than Kubrick's rueful one.
I guess this last genius didn't realize that the "intergalactic deus ex machina" was an essential part of the plot and were predicted at the beginning of the film. And while I'd like to give him credit for the pun, it was probably unintentional. But I digress.
Now someone new joins the discussion and shoots an arrow straight into their heel.
-This is what Spielberg said: "People pretend to think they know Stanley Kubrick, and think they know me, when most of them don't know either of us. And what's really funny about that is, all the parts of 'A.I.' that people assume were Stanley's were mine. And all the parts of 'A.I.' that people accuse me of sweetening and softening and sentimentalizing were all Stanley's. The teddy bear was Stanley's. The whole last 20 minutes of the movie was completely Stanley's. The whole first 35, 40 minutes of the film - all the stuff in the house - was word for word, from Stanley's screenplay. This was Stanley's vision. Eighty percent of the critics got it all mixed up. But I could see why. Because, obviously, I've done a lot of movies where people have cried and have been sentimental. And I've been accused of sentimentalizing hard-core material. But in fact it was Stanley who did the sweetest parts of 'A.I.,' not me. I'm the guy who did the dark center of the movie, with the Flesh Fair and everything else. That's why he wanted me to make the movie in the first place. He said, 'This is much closer to your sensibilities than my own.'"
And the reaction?
-I have seen every single Spielberg movie and also every single Stan Kubrick movie. And I don't believe Spielberg.
-Who really cares? The movie was god awful. Ending or no ending.
That's it. No one else even responded about this thread. Their whole model of Spielberg as the purveyor of feel-good pabulum had just been crushed and it was revealed that it was instead Kubrick, the master of grim reality, who'd handed over those irritatingly fluffy bits to Spielberg intact. Their basic reaction is either "I don't believe it," or "so what?"… or not to respond at all. I know it's hard to talk with a foot in your mouth, but typing shouldn't be affected.
The last thing I will do is comment on what is perhaps the most egregious piece of Kubrickian hackery. It is called The Kubrick Edit
. This Kubrick Supremacist decided he would butcher the film to reflect how he thinks Kubrick would have done it. Here is the description.
"Over 20 years ago, Stanley Kubrick read the short story "Supertoys Last All Summer Long" by Brian Aldiss. The Story inspired Kubrick to develop the film "Artificial Intelligence". … The basic storyline is very dark and Kubrickesque but many of the scenes in the film have a very light and sometimes silly feel that is inherent to Spielberg's style. There is no doubt that if Kubrick had made the film (or even been around to oversee the production) it would have been much darker and without the disneyesque feel that Spielberg contributed to the film…. As a tribute to Stanley Kubrick, I have re-edited the existing footage of AI in an attempt to create a film that I feel is more consistant with Kubrick's vision of the story. I call it "The Kubrick Edit". It turned out to be about an hour and 54 minutes, thats 30 minutes shorter than the original film."
This act includes one of the Professor Hobby scenes that I removed; However, every scene with the Swinton family, I left alone. This is the only part of the story that I know for sure stuck to Kubricks version.
Most of the stuff I cut out is from this act. In addition to scenes with Professor Hobby, Gigalo Joe, and Dr. Know; I also removed several lines that no longer made sense after those scenes were removed. I also removed several lines from the flesh fair scene that detracted from the dark mood of the story.
I cut down this act significantly. There is very little dialogue, its mostly just visuals put to music, reminescent of the ending of 2001
This exemplifies once again Stanley's comment: "People can misinterpret almost anything so that it coincides with views they already hold."
This is especially true when they can re-edit the film. The fact of the matter, which will be detailed in the final segment, is that there is nothing at all wrong with the film A.I. The lofty heads got it wrong from the beginning because it did not coincide with their view of what Kubrick would do, or even who he was. It ruffled their intellectual feathers because it actually did precisely what Kubrick had intended: pull the heartstrings
. And as I am sure "any film student worth his salt"
would tell you, das ist verboten!
The pomposity of this re-edit will not be clear until I get to the e-mail exchange with science fiction writer Ian Watson. He is curiously absent from the sources the filmmaker of The Kubrick Edit referenced in making his cuts. Watson will casually brush aside all the backwards notions of the re-edit, the critics and The Kubrickheads. But I am sure they would simply reply with haughty "what the hell does he know? He only wrote the screen story!"
I have already admitted that I am not a film buff. For a time I found myself befuddled by the criticisms made by Kubrickheads. I didn't know how to respond to them because I knew nothing of the man or his works, beside what I had seen in the theater. I even agreed with some of the assertions regarding Spielberg's incompetence in handling the story, and often took an apologetic stance when defending the film I so loved. But then I came back to the idea that Kubrick asked Spielberg to do it. What was up with that?
When I found Ian Watson's "Plumbing Stanley Kubrick" everything finally began to make sense.
When I wrote my novelized fan fiction of the film I was unaware of one of the primary writers of A.I. and so left him out of the credits. That was Mr. Ian Watson. He wrote the screen story and his name is right there in the film credits. It's on the framed poster on my wall, for chrissakes! D'oh! Boy, was my face red. When I found Mr Watson's site I wrote him and asked if I could pick his brain about A.I. It turns out that not only could he not share the screen story but that he was actually contractually bound to silence about the film. He couldn't even tell me about the sub-text. But there were things he could tell me.
First off, every A.I fan should read "Plumbing Stanley Kubrick
". It is Watson's memoir of working with the enigmatic Stanley Kubrick during the development of A.I., and paints a much different picture of the director than the one Kubrickheads portray. Kubrick and Watson would meet every morning and work on the story. During these intense writing sessions ideas would be adopted and discarded quickly. Kubrick was a task master with a quick mind that would change focus suddenly and often. What sounded great one day would be discarded the next. And, vice versa, an idea that might have received a scathing from Kubrick would receive a warm reception later.
"Story conferences were akin to building a precarious castle of wooden blocks or a house of cards, often doomed to collapse towards the end of the afternoon when I was hoping to make my departure with definite scenes to write up the next morning from my pages of scribbled notes…. Often it was as if each morning I began writing an entirely new short story which I was obliged to abandon the same evening, only to start another one next day."
Ian Watson - Plumbing Stanley Kubrick
Kubrick was annoyed by Watson's attachment to the stories he had developed. The filmmaker went farther to criticize writers in general as thinking their words were written in stone. I can understand this. Written word and filmmaking are related but two very different art forms. To a filmmaker, the written word is just a diagram to build on. To the writer, the written word is the final product; it is the finished art, not just a blueprint. So while I agree with Kubrick's complaint, that writers think their words are written in stone, I do not see this as a detriment. It's the way it should be.
Another place where I respectfully disagree with Mr. Kubrick is his idea that film is the ultimate medium. In my view, films are just trailers for books and will never replace them. Books are and always will be superior because they are not static, they engage the reader who is forced to use his or her own imagination in the process of interpreting the words, creating images. By comparison, outside of interpretation, a finished film is static. The images are pre-defined for the viewer. The only place the imagination need be employed is in interpreting the story and, as the Kubrickheads have shown us, that can have disastrous results.
But I digress.
In response to one of my an e-mail inquiries Mr Watson replied:
"Personally I feel that Spielberg's AI conformed pretty closely to what Kubrick wanted. I didn't much like the Disneyfied Dr Know, but on the whole I think Stanley would have been very happy."
What? Kubrick would have been happy? But The Kubrickheads assured me that he would have rolled over in his grave. Wait…. it gets better:
"The last 20 minutes, for instance, were exactly what I wrote for Stanley and exactly what he wanted, exactly filmed by Spielberg."
Check mate. But there is more.
After reading Watson's memoir and in the wake of our few conversations I have come to the conclusion that Kubrick relied more on others for story development than his avid fans assumed. This can be evidenced in this excerpt from our discussion:
"Often I felt like a sort of fortune teller, trying to guess what he wanted because he didn't know what it was but he would recognize it if & when it occurred."
To exemplify this: In the final version of A.I. an excerpt from the Strauss opera Der Rosenkavalier
is referenced. John Williams explains on the DVD that the only instruction he received from Kubrick is that this piece of music absolutely had to go into the film… somewhere. Ostensibly this was just homage to 2001. But there might have been more to it that even Kubrick did not seem aware of. This is what Watson wrote me:
"Originally I wrote a scene for Stanley in which little David waltzes with his mother to the Rosenkavalier music. I told Stanley that since 2001 featured Johann Strauss, this next SF movie of his should feature Richard Strauss."
But much happened between the time of the writing of the story and the point when it was passed on to Spielberg, including Kubrick loosing the manuscript. No kidding. You'll have to read Watson's memoir for the whole story on that, but when Williams received the instructions to include the piece there was no scene with Monica and David dancing. Where there is the innuendo of a little joke is in the subject matter of the opera. Der Rosenkavalier means the "Knight Of The Rose" and the opera is about an aging woman who has a young lover whom she feels she must give away because she has grown to old for him. There's a lot more to it and you can check out the Wiki page for more. Considering the subject of the opera and the fact Kubrick had no idea where to place the excerpt, Watson may well have been engaging in a little tongue-in-cheek that Kubrick missed.
Either way, Rouge City, Gigolo Joe, the opening and closing of the film are all Watson's creations and executed just as Kubrick wanted… sappy emotional pandering and all. That's gotta sting.
And, finally, about all the Freudian hoopla:
"Stanley never discussed Freud or Jung or atheism with me, so far as I remember. Mainly we explored narrative logic, not philosophy/psychology. But Stanley was a person who compartmentalized, so he may already have had a philosophical basis that he felt no need to discuss. At the same time he was prepared to accept any twist or development if it led to a logical, waterproof narrative"
What was it Stanley said? "They take from art what they already believe"...
Yeah. That was it.
So, to conclude this whole thing, let me give my scenario. Years ago Stanley Kubrick, an artist who believed that a film "should be a progression of moods and feelings"
read Brian Aldiss' short story and a film began to form in his mind. As it evolved it would take on many nuances, some that Kubrick would not share and many he abandoned for the sake of telling a cohesive story. But he did not write the story himself. Over the years he would collaborate with many writers, Sarah Maitland and Ian Watson being the ones we all know about, but there are certainly others whom we may never hear of. In the end what we saw on the screen was a very close representation of Kubrick's vision. And even if some of the characters were toned down under Steven's pen, the elements for which he was so soundly criticized were actually those parts of the story that Kubrick developed with Watson, because that is what the story was about
Stanley Kubrick believed that Artificial Intelligence is the next evolutionary step for mankind. I disagree with this, but again, that is an argument for a different time. It was his viewpoint. A.I. was Stanley's attempt to warm us to the idea of artificial beings in the form of a little imitation boy who only needs love to become real; Pinocchio for the new millennium. The Supermecha that the Kubrickheads seem to think should have been left on the cutting room floor, or relegated to the bloopers section of the DVD, may have very well been representative of Kubrick's essential statement in the film; his ideal view of the culmination of the evolutionary process: our Mind Children, who evolve beyond us into a species free of the petty and destructive human passions of jealousy and greed, free of war and disease; The Übermenschen whose existence seems to be dedicated entirely to the pursuit of truth.
There is much more to the story and of course interpretations will vary. All that this writing is designed to express is: if you loved the film as it is, bonded with tragic little David and felt the emotional response that was at the core of Stanley's vision, then you more than likely 'got it'.