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A.I. Artificial Intelligence
Album Cover Art
2001 Warner
2015 La-La Land
Album 2 Cover Art
Composed, Conducted, and Co-Produced by:

Orchestrated by:
John Neufeld
Conrad Pope

Principle Vocals by:
Barbara Bonney

Songs Performed by:
Lara Fabian
Josh Groban

Additional Arrangements by:
William Ross

Co-Produced by:
David Foster
Labels Icon
Warner Brothers Records
(July 3rd, 2001)

La-La Land Records
(June 16th, 2015)
Availability Icon
The 2001 Warner album was a regular U.S. release. The 2015 La-La Land album was limited to 3,000 copies and sold at soundtrack specialty outlets for a retail price of $35.
Nominated for an Academy Award, a Grammy Award, and a Golden Globe.
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Availability | Awards | Viewer Ratings | Comments | Audio & Track Listings | Notes
Buy it... if you're intrigued by a score so emotionally conflicted that it is almost too bittersweet to love but too lovely to ignore, in which case the full 2015 set is an undeniable attraction for your intellectual consideration.

Avoid it... if you were offended by the bleak outlook on humanity exhibited in the film's harrowingly illogical plot, for John Williams accentuates the contrast between love and despair with melodrama that nearly crushes the score with its own weight.
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WRITTEN 7/6/01, REVISED 11/15/15
A.I. Artificial Intelligence: (John Williams) A complicated and convoluted concept in each of its numerous side stories, A.I. Artificial Intelligence is essentially a film about a boy's love for his mother. In the time between Brian Aldiss' original story of 1969 and Steven Spielberg's realization of the adaptation in 2001, famed director Stanley Kubrick continuously toiled with A.I.. After several unsuccessful attempts to begin production on the film in earnest, Kubrick eventually shelved the idea in the 1980's until such a time that special effects technology could meet his extremely high standards for the look of his vision. When he saw the stunning effects of Jurassic Park, he determined that the time had come to make A.I., but despite engaging Industrial Light & Magic and approaching Steven Spielberg to direct, he proceeded to make Eyes Wide Shut first. That decision unfortunately meant that the director died before being able to turn his attention squarely on A.I., and to honor Kubrick's career, Spielberg went ahead and tackled the project himself. While his involvement ensured topnotch technical qualities, the conflicting emotional sensibilities of Kubrick and Spielberg led to several problems in the script as it was executed. Through the years, Kubrick had darkened the story by several shades, eventually deciding on the basic premise of the controversial epilogue that mostly survived intact. The challenge with A.I. has always been the on-screen battle between Kubrick's strikingly cold outlook on the human/robot relationship and Spielberg's hopelessly optimistic alternative in how he shoots scenes. Thus, the soft ending of A.I., as well as several smaller plot points in between, is in conflict with the chilly atmosphere of Kubrick's vision because Spielberg essentially romanticized the concept, whether intentionally or not, to improve its appeal. Some have claimed that the director also extended the "Pinocchio" connections (which Kubrick nurtured all along) into an allegory about the historical fight between the Romans and the Jews. So many divergent accounts of the "facts" involving the circumstances behind the creation of A.I. exist that it's pointless to belabor them much further. The film ultimately earned its grosses through Spielberg's reputation rather than stellar critical response.

What does matter is that A.I., for all its efforts to provoke thought, is both a beautifully enchanting and frightfully offensive film at the same time. Since these two seemingly incongruous descriptors are ultimately the downfall of the picture, they have to be explored in order to understand the extreme contrasts in John Williams' music for it. Many readers have disparaged the following statement through the years, but A.I. really does give listeners a hint as to what a collaboration between Kubrick and the maestro would have sounded like. The underlying social commentary of the concept, hauntingly brutal in a way that few could create as well as Kubrick, guides the basis of the story. The sappiness of the film is the influence of Spielberg's usual attempt to infuse a sense of magic into such fantasy topics, causing a variety of screaming fallacies of logic and a tone in the ending that was destined to be classified as nothing short of unsatisfying no matter how it was rewritten. Whatever interest that could be maintained by the future conflict between orgas (people) and mechas (robots) is restrained and diluted by the simple fact that the concept of an unloving and incapable mother who abandons one who loves her dearly is devastatingly depressing and disturbing to watch. In this case, a young boy robot is programmed to unconditionally love a couple whose biological child is ill and incapacitated. When the real child is miraculously cured, the mother intentionally abandons the mecha child in the woods. That boy (joined by his equally lovable, talking teddy bear, whose fate at the end of the journey also remains sadly unresolved) is the first model that can feel emotions, and to see him spend the rest of the film in a fruitless attempt to find his mother is frankly the offensive part of the story. Both Kubrick and Spielberg intended to allow the robot to find her for one last fleeting moment, but that conclusion, whether it had followed Kubrick's extremely depressing variant of Spielberg's ultimately soft and fuzzy death scene (of sorts), damns humanity in ways more vile than even concepts like Soylent Green could suggest. This intense dissatisfaction with A.I., as basically a glorified child abandonment picture, has a strong and strangely distancing effect on the opinion of Williams' score. It should not be surprising that Williams and Spielberg had difficulty applying music to this context, in part because of Kubruck's own surviving parameters.

The final incarnation of A.I. creates the difficult position of causing one to be utterly repulsed by the film while loving the score despite its specific contributions to the worst parts of the film's ultimate plot failures. In other words, Williams' music is an extremely effective contributing factor to the offensive emotional chains that the film throws around you, so you can either loathe it for accentuating those traits in the film or love it for its individually gorgeous parts. When you look back at the basic circumstances of this production, it's hard not to get the impression that Williams was confronted with the most problematic aspects of the script more than any other crew member, forced to write a coherent score that satisfied both the dark and light elements of the two directors' influences on the story. Williams had scored the darker sides of humanity before, but never for a film in which there is no redeeming quality for any human character. A.I. is nothing short of a suspense and horror film for most of its running time, and the heroes are an unlikely trio of robots (if you include the teddy bear and "Gigolo Joe"). The closest Williams had ventured to the same general sense of disturbed suburban lifestyles was for Presumed Innocent, which remains the most similar score to A.I. in Williams' career in terms of grim tone. The quiet, unnerving terror of the sickening domestic failure in A.I. is even more tragic than the spookier revelations of Presumed Innocent, but Williams handles them similarly. His use of a piano to represent the symbol of the mecha boy and his family is not a revolutionary technique, but Williams has a particularly effective method of combining it with the woodwind and string sections to create optimistic harmony in theme while being offset by underlying disharmony in other layers of the orchestra. The first half of A.I., embroiled in the extremely distasteful and unpleasant inactions of the family that has adopted the artificial boy, has very few optimistic scenes to offer, and Williams lays on the suspense very well, continuing the plucking uncertainty from Presumed Innocent with much skill. Just as unpleasant as the film is to digest in that first half, Williams' music for those scenes is equally unnerving on album. The composer's handling of themes in these portions is minimal and fragmented, the identities for the boy and robots in general so diluted as to be ineffectual, likely an intentional choice, leaving foreshadowings of later impactful identities as the only fleeting anchors in these portions.

When the film suddenly transforms into the more expected Kubrick mold of bizarre imagery and illogic, Williams' music becomes an increasingly interesting listening experience (both in the film and on album). A terrifying and urgent theme that mirrors some of the discord heard when manipulating the innocence of Anakin's thematic material in the first two Star Wars prequels is applied to the uncertainty of the mecha world from the viewpoint of the boy once he is abandoned. Heard most extensively in "Abandoned in the Woods" and "Rouge City," this theme is accompanied by an underlying, tumultuous string motif, rising and falling with almost a mechanical brutality that culminates into a dissonant crescendo complete with seemingly random piano strikes. This material had been used extensively in the trailers for the film, and it accompanies the horrifying chase sequences quite well. It evokes the same emotions as the most terrifying moments of E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial's chase through the woods, and its boiling nature can double in A.I. to represent the massive, rising seas that have engulfed much of the planet. This abandonment motif originates earlier in the score in distinct Presumed Innocent shades, both "David Studies Monica" and, more poignantly, "Monica's Plan" building momentum towards that pivotal moment with explorations of that theme. The film's "Flesh Fair" scene, perhaps raising the most intriguing overarching social issues of the story, is accompanied by the "What About Us?" song by Ministry, and although it is thankfully not included on the Williams score album, it was available almost immediately on the group's "greatest hits" compilation. The "Rouge City" cue contains the most impressive writing that Williams applies to the outwardly Kubrick aspects of the story, though the composer's unyielding, brassy fright in such cues as "Cybertronics" and "The Moon Rising" offer a harsher electronic side of his writing that Kubrick might even have appreciated in coordination with his traditional classical styles. The latter cue is famous for its wicked electric guitar contributions, ones that made the subsequent, brief use of the instrument in Star Wars: Attack of the Clones seem mild. Much of this challenging, tumultuous atmosphere was destined to fester greatly in Williams' War of the Worlds a few years later. The composer and director specifically opted to avoid thematic usage during many of these passages, Williams instead writing singular ideas for locations and situations as he would in Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith.

Ratings Icon
Average: 3.71 Stars
***** 1,796 5 Stars
**** 1,312 4 Stars
*** 945 3 Stars
** 561 2 Stars
* 388 1 Stars
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Missed opportunity in the film
Sam - December 6, 2015, at 11:14 a.m.
1 comment  (943 views)
Stop also reviewing the film, just do the score...
Ollie - August 28, 2012, at 8:32 a.m.
1 comment  (1849 views)
Please do your research
Theowne - July 11, 2008, at 10:18 a.m.
1 comment  (2771 views)
Robye - October 22, 2007, at 9:58 p.m.
1 comment  (2380 views)
The complete Original Score
daniel estrella - October 1, 2007, at 4:23 p.m.
1 comment  (2789 views)
joel - July 1, 2005, at 5:17 p.m.
1 comment  (2976 views)

Track Listings Icon
Audio Samples   ▼
2001 Warner Album Tracks   ▼Total Time: 70:11
• 1. The Mecha World (6:23)
• 2. Abandoned in the Woods (3:07)
• 3. Replicas (5:58)
• 4. Hide and Seek (3:08)
• 5. For Always - performed by Lara Fabian (4:42)
• 6. Cybertronics (3:30)
• 7. The Moon Rising (4:26)
• 8. Stored Memories and Monica's Theme (10:56)
• 9. Where Dreams are Born (4:23)
• 10. Rouge City (4:56)
• 11. The Search for the Blue Fairy (6:52)
• 12. The Reunion (7:45)
• 13. For Always (Duet) - performed by Lara Fabian and Josh Groban (4:41)
2015 La-La Land Album Tracks   ▼Total Time: 180:28

Notes Icon
The insert of the 2001 Warner album includes the usual short note from Spielberg, but no extra information about the score or film. That of the 2015 product contains extensive notation about both, including a list of performers.
Copyright © 2001-2021, Filmtracks Publications. All rights reserved.
The reviews and other textual content contained on the site may not be published, broadcast, rewritten
or redistributed without the prior written authority of Christian Clemmensen at Filmtracks Publications. All artwork and sound clips from A.I. Artificial Intelligence are Copyright © 2001, 2015, Warner Brothers Records, La-La Land Records and cannot be redistributed without the label's expressed written consent. Page created 7/6/01 and last updated 11/15/15.
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