By now most of us know the story of Steven Spielberg’s A.I.: ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE and how it was originally conceived as a film project by Stanley Kubrick, who started working on it in the 1970s and kept at it for nearly 25 years before, convinced the technology wasn’t where it needed to be to do the story justice, he passed it off to his colleague and friend Steven Spielberg and set out to make EYES WIDE SHUT instead. Spielberg sat on the project for a few years, then following Kubrick’s death just before EYES WIDE SHUT was released, things geared up again and the film entered production. Spielberg is said to have utilized some of Kubrick’s own storyboards for the film, but that’s not the only place you can feel the influence of the latter director on the former.
In a new, concise but revealing supercut, esteemed editor Candice Drouet has built a side-by-side comparison of shots from A.I. that mirror shots from a variety of Kubrick films including 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY, A CLOCKWORK ORANGE, BARRY LYNDON, and THE SHINING. Keep in mind this is Spielberg, though, an innovator in his own right, so if you’re looking for all of these to be straight, obvious comparisons, look closer; while some are obvious, some are more subtle, based on color or composition, framing or lighting schemes. Spielberg knew that there was more to Kubrick than what came across visually onscreen, it was how he built his frames, how he combined nuances, layers, and multiple facets in precise proportions to create his own particular breed of cinematic storytelling. That’s what Spielberg was trying to create in this, his cinematic homage to a pioneer of the medium, not just the look but the feel of a Kubrick film.
Whether he succeeded or not is up for debate, but what is not is that imitation is indeed the sincerest form of flattery and in A.I. Spielberg intentionally set out to imitate the distinct and inimitable vision of Stanley Kubrick, if only to give the world one last glimpse at the man’s greatness.
Kubrick – Spielberg / Candice Drouet from Really Dim on Vimeo.