Like the film itself, John Williams' music to A.I. strikes a balances between extremes. Sometimes very cold and distant and sometimes warm and personal. The complementary parts of this movie are contantly posing the question "Is there a tangible difference between the natural love of an organic lifeform and the programmed emotions of an artificial lifeform." Of course the movie isn't going to answer the question, that is up to the individual viewer. Williams achieve these extremes by using a mixture of eclectic, modernistic, spaced-out ethereal moods and trite, formulaic, bland ballad. Nevertheless in the hands of a master, this blend works. The movie isn't perfect but the music serves it perfectly if you know what I mean.
The first track The Mecha World is a long one but makes a good start to the album with its opening fanfare, and constant mechanical movement. Abandoned in the Woods introduces some recurring thematic elements of fear and wonder for the articificial boy David. Replicas is an interesting track from later in the movie as the boy meets other Davids and discovers more about his past. This track must certainly have been intended to suggest some of the Gyorgy Ligeti pieces from Kubrick's film "2001: A Space Odyssey". Whether this homage to the musical taste and choices of the originator of A.I. was Williams' idea or Spielberg's we may never know. Hide and Seek is from earlier in the movie, and is crafted with care to suggest childhood innocence, but also perhaps a certain emptiness or distrust.
For Always is the initially unremarkable theme song, whose chorus still manages to linger in the mind as you wonder what the movie was all about. Cybertronics veers right back to the world of "2001: A Space Odyssey" with a track clearly inspired by the Adagio from Aram Khachaturian's ballet Gayane. The Moon Rising is the hunter pursuit theme which falls for a period into the domain of impressionistic purcussion and samples. Stored Memories with wordless voices seems like a clever mix of Ligeti and Khachaturian! Then Monica's Theme, representing the mother's love reciprocal side of the bonded pair, quotes extensively from "For Always" which then continues into Where Dreams are Born.
Accompanying some gaudy visuals, Rouge City takes us back to some elements from "Abandoned in the Woods" with its mixture of wonder and more pursuit. The Search for the Blue Fairy takes us underwater and oscillates between two interpretations of the scene, a cold factual reporting of the boy's fixation and a sympathetic understanding of his emotional needs. The Reunion accompanies the latter more far out scenes of the movie with sections of "For Always" and yet more mixed emotions. A duet version of For Always closes the movie and soundtrack.
A.I. is one of those soundtracks that you will either love or hate, possibly even both depending on the mood you're in. There is no doubt that several portions of the soundtrack will stick in your mind, haunting your dreams and day-dreams for a time after hearing it. Particularly haunt-worthy are the celesta childlike innocence theme of "Hide and Seek" and the chorus of "For Always". A.I. is available from Amazon.co.uk in the UK, or Amazon.com in the US.