A.I. Artificial Intelligence (John Williams)

In 2001, director Steven Spielberg brought "A.I. Artificial Intelligence" to life, completing the project that his friend, Stanley Kubrick, had developed for years, but never thought possible. A futuristic Pinocchio allegory about a young robot boy who seeks the love of his adopted family, and to gain true sentience, while being thrust into a big and dangerous world. The film earned uneven praise, especially controversial for the ending, but it remains a visually stunning film with many heady sci-fi ideas. Composer John Williams, was here tasked with balancing the conflicting natures of the story--the cold, robotic, Kubrickian story mixed with Spielberg's own bran of optimistic warmth. In the process, Williams delivers a challenging, but deeply rewarding composition, one that is more textural and experimental than his usual sound, yet that ultimately delivers a deeply cathartic emotional resolution.

This was a fun project to work on, mostly fairly straight-forward, except for a few tricky images. The original soundtrack album presented a fairly dull cover, and the La-La Land expansion basically kept the same black, minimal aesthetic, though added a few details to liven it up. That left plenty of space to play around and improve the situation visually. Enjoy a total of nine new covers to choose from. The first five here are adaptations of the official promotional materials used for the film, and the last four are based off stills from the actual film, displaying Janusz Kaminski's ethereal cinematography.

The first cover uses an old wallpaper for the film. I'd actually created an old cover using this art ages ago, so it was fun to come back now and reinvent it. I had to amplify the space visually, so I found another image of the same Rouge City highway shot, and then enlarged it to better fill out the bottom of the image. 

Cover 2 adapts a box art poster, though in this case I replaced David's eyes with the ones from a second poster. These alternate eyes I find much more warm and human. I'd originally made another cover using that second poster art, but ultimately I just hated the bottom of the image, so I just combined the best part of both images.

The third cover uses art from the Blu-Ray Steelbook edition. It actually adapts an older poster--which is fortunate, because I didn't really know what to do with that other poster, and could only find it in low quality. Fortunately this new version sharpened things up significantly, and superimposed a gorgeous color palette, one that doesn't quite reflect that look of the film (outside of Rouge City), but was too stunning to mess with. I ended up redoing the actual film title here, as I didn't like the font on the original, but I tried to match the neon look.

Cover 4 is the standard art that was used primarily for the home video release, and was pretty easy to adapt as a cover, just had to slide a few things around, and add the necessary text. The whole Rouge City entrance really gets a lot of play, as you can see. Can't really blame them--it's a hypnotic image.

The fifth cover again uses an official poster--though in this case I ended up restructuring the composition of the image entirely. Instead of having the two faces smoothed awkwardly into the side, I split them up, flanking the image, with the highway shot framed in the middle. I ended up finding the actual film publicity photo of Gigolo Joe that his face here was pulled from, and I used this to expand his face and body here slightly, after matching size and the lighting/color. I couldn't actually find the image that David was pulled from, otherwise I'd probably have tried to give him a bit more detail too, rather than just that harsh silhouette.

Starting with Cover 6, I experimented with using actual stills from the movie itself, or set production photos. These allow for a more moody, minimal look, that contrasts nicely with the more colorful ones used in the marketing scheme. The first here offers David being refracted by a broken glass pattern--one that is rather haunting, and captures his broken semblance of reality--and the quest for his soul.

For the seventh and eight cover, I decided to implement the format used by La-La Land Records for their Expanded albums, for those who might want to replace the covers for that album. Adding the frame worked well with these more spacious images. The first image takes place after David is abandoned, leaving the comforts of home for a new and dangerous world. Here he meets Gigolo Joe, before they are soon captured. The second image, I believe is from the very beginning of the film (it's been ages since I've seen it). Again, incredibly simple, but very eerie. Again playing with the ideas of distorted reality--is this just a human being distorted by the camera blur, or a foreshadowing of our (SPOILERS) alienesque Super-mechas who await David long after humanity has faded away. 

Speaking of aliens, I guess it's fitting that my final cover is from the frequently-derided finale of the film. I found this image online after discovering an old cover of a Cinefex magazine issue. I took two images, and combined them together to try to get the fullest canvas, it took a lot of finessing, as the image was fairly small and grainy. I tried several enhancement tricks, hopefully it's passable, though still rougher than I'd like. I then just tried to make the image a bit more refined, increasing the saturation and warmth for David and the mecha hand, but cooling and softening the rest of the image. I also just noticed now that these last three images all ended up using my alternate film title treatment, as I was bored of the traditional Trajan font, and wanted something a little more sci-fi, but without being overwhelming. 

Overall, this was a fun challenge, and I hope you enjoy the covers. Let me know your thoughts on the images below.

All this is really making me want to watch this movie again...

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