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SF, Film, and TV
Saturday 12 May 2001

Spielberg Speaks A.I.

§ Film director Steven Spielberg spoke at length with the Los Angeles Times (taking a break from the set of Minority Report) last week, talking about his version of Stanley Kubrick's project A.I., due for release next month. Spielberg had agreed to the direct the film with Kubrick as producer, years ago, before backing out and urging Kubrick to direct it himself; but Kubrick decided to do Eyes Wide Shut first.

Kubrick had left a brilliant first, and third act, but the middle section had "pieces of a dream, but was scattered." Working from notes that [Jan] Harlan sent on to him, Spielberg "assembled these fragments into a living organism." In shooting the actual film, he wound up using, he estimates, some 600 of [Chris] Baker's original storyboards. "I did a lot of Stanley's shots. I wanted to get as much of what Stanley wanted upon the screen as I possibly could," he says, although he does not normally shoot from storyboards. In fact, Spielberg works in a diametrically opposite fashion than Kubrick. While Kubrick liked shooting in continuity, with a skeletal crew, at the pace of slowly drying paint, Spielberg loves speed, moving almost three times as fast as most directors.

Maybe on Video

§ Here's the New York Times review from 30 March of Simon Magus, the film that played briefly in New York and LA. of the boldest fairy tales to come to the screen in years. If the film's gothically gloomy ambience recalls Tim Burton's "Sleepy Hollow," its allegorical story of an Eastern European village where Jews and Christians compete for the soul of a half- mad visionary has the vividly fanciful quality of a Yiddish folk tale. Although the movie has hardly any singing and dancing, it's not all that far from "Fiddler on the Roof" territory. And its biggest weakness is a screenplay that has the stiff, cut-and-dried quality found in the sort of musical-comedy libretto that has to spell everything out in stilted, quasi-mythical language.

© 2001 by Locus Publications. All rights reserved.