Blue Fairy “a human flaw to believe in what does not exist”
We enter this world screaming and judging what is around us. We examine what is real and what is not and always have a need for our mother. Jacques Lacan was born on April 13, 1901 in Paris, France. He studied to become a forensic psychiatrist, and was awarded a diploma in 1931. He received his doctorate in 1932. In 1933 he became a member of the Societe Psychoanalytique de Paris. In 1940 he began working at Vale-de-Grace, the military hospital in Paris. In 1964 Lacan founded the L’Ecole Freudienne de Paris.
Lacan said that in order to fix the patient’s problem one must first get into the psyche of the patient, which is the root of the problem. Jacques Lacan talks about the subject learning to express itself and what is real or imaginary in the world around it. He talks about the “real” moment of birth, unification which happens at 0-6 months of age of the child’s life. The child according to him is just a gelatinous mass of impulses. The child forms a connection with his mother and depends on her for everything. He depends on her to feed him, dress him and other types of care.
He has this imaginary feeling of being a whole. At that point the child is not speaking yet but will have to start speaking at some point and will therefore separate from the mother. Lacan talks about the fact that when we start speaking we break apart from what is real and according to Lacan the real is impossible. Once we speak we forever irreversibly go away from what is real (Felluga, Dino). The Imaginary Order. The child separates from the mother but wants to get back to the womb and be one with the mother to be whole. This stage happens at 6-18 months of age.
The mirror stage is the moment when the infant looks into the mirror and sees himself as a whole self. He is disillusioned about the image. The connection to the mirror stage suggests the “imaginary” is mainly self-absorbed even though it sets the stage for the fantasies of desire. The child thinks that the image in the mirror is himself but that is a misrecognition. As a result this becomes the ego or ‘I’ self is on some level a fantasy – identification with an external image and not a sense of internal unique whole identity (Adrienne R. Acra).
In this stage the child realizes that it is separated from the mother and the “real world”. The child starts worrying, knowing that something is lost, therefore in the mirror stage he is disillusioned with an image which is a fantasy of being a whole and not lacking a thing, as Lacan would say “Ideal-I” or “ideal ego. “( Felluga, Dino). Even though Lacan talks about imaginary being only at this stage of the child’s life, he explains that the imaginary and the symbolic are inextricably intertwined and work in tension with the Real. The child enters a “symbolic stage” from 18 months to 4 years of age.
This stage occurs when the child starts talking and understanding rules that control the society and learns to deal with others. This stage is about desire rather than need or demand. Lacan says that once we start speaking we are forever bound up with play of language. This stage has a lot of misrecognition as well. The society tells the child they are real and that the child should obey their laws. The “Other” is described as the ego, the desire of one self. It is self love and fantasy that control the child and, as stated previously, the rest of the life as well. As Lacan puts it, “That’s what love is.
It’s one’s own ego that one loves in love, one’s own ego made real on the imaginary level”(Freud’s Papers). The child is earning for the real which represents the mother. Somewhere in the middle in the “symbolic stage” and the “Other stage” merge. When the child looks into the mirror he sees the outside of self, the other. The other is the realization of incomplete self which is closely related to the symbolic and the mirror stages. By entering the symbolic order, the child tears itself away from the narcissistic ideas and enters the world of the Father which is the Oedipus complex. To further relate Lacan’s symbolic stage to Freud’s Oedipus complex, the idea of the father is applied to the concept of the center of the system. Because Lacan views language as a paternal system, the Law of the Father or the phallus becomes synonymous with Other or center.
The threat of castration by the father in Freud’s Oedipus complex is seen as a metaphor for lack as a structural concept, and the father is the personification of the Other – the element that governs the whole structure and provides stability by limiting the play of the elements involved. ” Definition of Psychoanalytic Theory) The Oedipus complex, according to Freud, is a childhood desire to sleep with the mother and to kill the father. He got this idea from a Greek legend of King Oedipus, whose son killed his father and fell in love and married his mother. During the Oedipus complex the subject enters the world and forms a superego. He enters into a world of law, religion, morality and parental authority. The child wants to become the father and eventually becomes the father figure. By becoming the father, the child is rebelling against the father, rebelling against the law.
The subject develops the idea that if he abides the law he will be fine and safe. The film I decided to use to analyze is A. I. Artificial Intelligence, directed by Stephen Spielberg using Stanley Kubrick’s own main ideas. In the film, it is a distant future when the Earth’s melting ice-caps have drowned countless cities, but population control has ensured the US is still an island of prosperity. Professor Hobby (William Hurt) is in charge of developing robots in his company, Cybertronics Manufacturing, suggests that a human like child should be built.
The robot will have one extra thing that is lacking from others robots that are already invented; it will be able to experience emotions. The robot (mecha) by the name of David is a replica image of the Professor Hobby’s son. David (Haley Joel Osment) is placed with a family Henry Swinton (Sam Robards) and Monica Swinton (Frances O’Connor) whose real son Martin (Jake Thomas) has been cryogenically frozen due to a terminal illness. David lives well with the family until Martin is introduced. Martin makes trouble for David such as making him cut mommy’s hair at night and creating other challenges.
David is thrown out of the house forever with his super toy Teddy. David is left in the forest where he meets a robot Gigolo Joe with whom he sets out on an adventure in search of the Blue Fairy that will help him become a real boy so his mommy will love him. David talks to Dr. Know who in some way is like the wizard in the Wizard of Oz because he has all the answers. Dr. Know tells him about the Blue Fairy and Dr. Hobby who lives in the city drowned by the sea, MANhattan. David goes to Dr. Hobby and realizes he is not a unique robot, just a prototype.
He drowns himself but is saved by Gigolo Joe who puts him into a police submarine with his Teddy so he can reach the Blue Fairy in hopes of becoming a real boy. Two thousand years pass and there are no longer any humans alive. David is discovered by what looks like Advanced Mechas who transfer his information through touching each other’s heads. They fulfill the dream of David having mommy back but just enough for one day. David and Monica both “fall asleep” as Teddy watches over them. It seems that the film covers the four points of Lacan’s theory very well.
Birth and rebirth and illusion of whole self and the other are the reoccurring theme here. There are signs of birth in the beginning as well as close to the ending of the film. In the beginning we see a lot of water and strong ocean waves, which can indicate a mother’s womb (Bill Coronel). The other place is when Monica is reading to the cryogenically frozen son. The son is in a cryogenic chamber which is shaped like a womb; and, at the end of the film where David is trapped in the police helicopter and is then activated represents David’s rebirth.
Symbolism and mirrors play a big part in this film. The first time is with Sheila, the robot, who is looking into the mirror while putting on make up. She looks so real and human but is doing something a robot would not do, something from the outside, the Other. We then see Monica, the mother, putting on her make up in the car and that questions our mind on whether Monica is real or a robot or is she creating an illusion for herself to compensate for what she is missing, her cryogenically frozen son Martin. As Monica goes to read to her son Martin, she passes a wall with fairytales drawn on it.
One of them is Pinocchio, the foreshadowing of the story. When she reaches her son he is lying in something that can somewhat resemble a womb as well. She reads to him, just like a pregnant mother might when expecting a child. That foreshadows his recovery. David, the A. I. , is a child that after being activated is programmed to have a connection with his mother as if he is her real son. When Monica decides to keep David and activates him their connection begins to form. David follows her around and depends on her every move. He feels a whole with Monica, his mother.
David follows the mother everywhere, which symbolizes his connection to her. He hardly speaks at all since in theory he has not yet entered the “symbolic stage. ” When Monica touches the back of his neck she brings life to him. By humans, that area of the neck has brain nerves. It is as if she gives him life. The other child, Martin, is introduced into the family and that connection between David and Monica (mother) gets torn. The mother takes David to the forest instead of having him destroyed. There he learns to “speak” and find out how to function in his surroundings.
David finds out how he fits into the world of reality; seeing that all of the other robots are just like a gelatinous mass of impulses. The mirror stage of a child is partially seen in different places. The most evident ones would be where David is mimicking Henry and Monica when they are eating. David’s mimicking can also be analyzed as the “other” stage, narcissist, because he is so absorbed with the mother. He tries to be like her. The unnoticeable parts would be when David just walks in and starts looking around at pictures of the family. His reflection is seen in the pictures of their son Martin.
It plays with an idea that he is partially replacing their human son. Another shot is when David spills the perfume all over himself and Monica is looking at the perfume bottle and there is a shot of her in the mirror. She is saddened by something material probably trying to make up for something else she is missing. The hanging small mirrors in David’s room are shaped like children. To me that shows hints of the mirror stage. That says to me that the David is more of a pleasant illusion than a reality to Monica, and Martin is the real one to her.
The Symbolic stage is represented in many scattered moments in the movie. It is first symbolized when Martin is introduced into David’s world. We realize that David has entered “the other” stage when Martin asks him “who created you … when were you created? ” and David seems not to remember anything at all just a bird that resembles a peacock. David is still learning about how he should act toward others and is challenged by Martin, who in some way represents what the world is made of. For example he challenges David in the eating competition knowing that robots do not eat.
Eating causes harm to David which foreshadows what is to come. Martin who is the real son seems to be complete to David because he is a human child, even though he is a sick one. David strongly believes that if he could only find that missing element which would make him human, his mother would be able to love him. He believes in it so much that it is enough to bring him to a psychotic state. Yet there is another place of an indication of symbolic stage. Henry, the father is trying to convince Monica, that David is a robot and not a human being.
Henry says that since David was programmed to love his emotions can turn just as easily to hate. This is similar to what Lacan says about love in his papers. Lacan says that “Because we are working on the level of fantasy construction, it is quite easy for love to turn into disgust, for example when a lover is confronted with his love-object’s body in all its materiality” (Freud’s Papers). The scene where the mother leaves David in the woods is like the anxiety the child feels at the mirror stage. He starts crying and panicking saying he will become real, and asking if she will take him back when he is human.
In the later scenes David sees robot mechas taking other robot parts to repair themselves. After being captured with other mechas he is taken to the “Flesh Fair”, of the human world, where he sees the inhuman destruction of robots. The humans shoot robots out of the cannon, pour acid on them, chop them and do other things while the crowd cheers. This reminds me of the times of gladiators, except in this film the robots have no chance of survival. The whole film however seems to be centered on the Oedipus complex.
From the beginning, David wants to be loved by mommy and tries to do everything he can to make her love him. From the moment she leaves him in the forest and he gets hysterical, he is on a search for a Blue Fairy who will make him a real boy. He desires his mother’s love and approval. When he is confronted with the idea that the Blue Fairy is just a human flaw to believe in what does not exist and that he will never be loved by humans he starts screaming that his mommy loves him and will love him even more when he becomes a real boy.
David believes to such an extent, that when he finds out he was created by scientists and can never become human; he is on the verge of losing hope and jumps into the ocean whispering “mommy. ” When David falls, he falls far enough to see the underwater New York and some of the Coney Island Park with the Cyclone and a vague image the Blue Fairy statue. He is rescued by Gigolo Joe and is put into the police car which he can navigate under water. In the shot where David finally sees the Blue Fairy his face is combined with the reflection of the fairy. He is the fairy. He is the one who is the hope, and the desire of Dr.
Hobby of a robot having human feelings. Struggling for the desire to become a human boy so mommy will love him, David gets trapped under water with Teddy for two thousand years until, what seems like the advanced mechas, activate him and let him realize the dream of Blue Fairy is somewhat fragile. At the touch of David’s fingers, the fairy being underwater and frozen so long breaks apart. When the advanced mechas give the boy his fantasy of finally meeting the fairy, once again David persists on becoming a real boy but is given the fact that it is impossible, however he can have mommy back for just one day from the DNA that he presents.
Finally the fantasy is fulfilled and mommy Monica is alive. After spending the day with her, as she “falls asleep”, David goes to sleep with her. Here it looks a lot like the Oedipus complex to me. He is sleeping with the mother. Although it may seem innocent to the viewer, Freud and Lacan would analyze it almost the same. David never mentions the father, and the only time when he does, he says that the father tried to hurt him. David is very upset at the father at any point of the film. By putting her to sleep and falling asleep with her he plays a role of a husband, meaning, he rebels against the father by becoming one himself.
This idea with being with the mother is what David seems to think of as a complete self. It is possible that when he thinks of himself he sees mommy as a part of him, wholeness. She is a part of him less materially but more ideally. It is like the child that looks into the mirror at the mirror stage and instead of just seeing himself sees him and the mother as just one whole self. As we see, the ending although dramatic is a Hollywood type of ending. In a way it is illusory and not real, in Lacanian terms. It is a Hollywood ending because the boy gets what he wants, not to be a real boy, but wholeness, being with his mommy.
In the real world people don’t always get what they want no matter how much they plead. Theorists argue that Spielberg should have finished the film on the part where David is trapped with Teddy in front of the Blue Fairy. I somewhat agree with that. By giving the boy what he wants we are put into illusion that the wholeness exists, it puts an opposition to Lacan who argues that there is only a gelatinous mass and reality, not the peachy world we build for ourselves, but a harsh world reality. This idea of wholeness is developed during the symbolic stage.
Through out the film is the idea of becoming one of the humans is to follow the instructions of Dr. Hobby and everything will work out. David is trying to become a real boy and when confronted he still tries to go on with his desire. Yet almost at the end, in some sense he falls apart. He is sitting at the edge of the building and then jumps into the water. That represents death. That is where he’s born and that is where he’ll die. Just like Lacan had mentioned, the symbolic falls apart because eventually we will see the reality.