For this Mother's Day, a look at my favorite film about motherhood—Steven Spielberg's "A.I."
I know, seems like an odd choice. But hear me out.
"A.I." is a story about a couple in the future (2100s) whose boy is in a coma with a rare disease. With little hope of his survival, the couple is selected by a tech company to receive the first A.I. child programmed to love, a "boy" named David.
After some adjustment, parents Henry and Monica take to David. He acts and feels so real. Adoring the bond she feels with him, Monica chooses to activate David's permanent emotional attachment, an irreversible program mimicking the love a child has for their mother.
Soon after, though, their real son, Martin, wakes from his coma. The two "brothers" live in conflict, with David acting in unpredictable, dangerous ways—sometimes competitive, sometime fooled by Martin into doing so. For example, David clips a lock of his mother's hair while she slept, and she and her husband wake up to see David standing by her with scissors.
Such a threat to their family, Monica has to do the unthinkable and return David to the company. But knowing he'd be destroyed if she did so, she stops short along the road and leaves him in a forest.
Thinking this is his fault—and that his mother would love him if only he was a real boy (they had read Pinocchio together)—the rest of the film is David trying to become a real boy and return to his mother.
Now the action/sci-fi kicks in, because this is a world of many A.I. machines (called "mecha") that David befriends and contends with. At the end of his journey, though, he's all alone, becoming trapped in a submersible vehicle where he waits and waits, asking to be turned into a real boy until he runs out of power.
Centuries go by before he is found by future mecha who can revive him—and recreate his home from his memory. They can also use that lock of Monica's hair David kept this whole time. With it, they can recreate his mother, but only for one day due to biological constraints. Unbeknownst to her, once she goes to sleep, she will not wake again.
But she and David have one, perfect day together.
And the beauty is that this perfect day isn't at the amusement park—or any park or zoo or party. It's just them two—playing hide and seek, him painting her pictures, her making him a birthday cake (for the first time in his "life").
Monica simply wants to enjoy her time with her son and make him happy. And David, after having gone so far and waiting so long, wants nothing more than to serve his mom—making her coffee in the morning and even tucking her in at night.
Yes, it's far-fetched sci-fi. But because of the special effects and drama and action, the film becomes a powerful story about something extraordinarily basic yet wonderfully human: a son's love for his mother.
The day ends as it began, with David at his mother's bedside. After she falls asleep, David lays by her side with the narrator stating, "...and for the first time in his life, he went to that place where dreams are born."
As an AI programmed to love, David could finally rest when finally feeling fulfilled.
That's true of every one of us.
That's every person's need from their mother.
That's every mother's impact on her child.
Happy Mother's Day to all you blessed women giving and fulfilling all of human life.