ARTHUR: ANDROID AND THE MAGIC OF SIMPLICITY
The importance of artificial intelligence in the story of ‘Passengers’, which is not obvious at first viewing examination, provides us with a means to reveal the two main characters in a superior analytic way. While a short-lived involvement of a steward (Laurence Fishburne) gives Jim and Aurora a more meaningful directional purpose of survival (repairing an Avalon ship), each conversation with Arthur surfaces both core dilemmas and the long-shaped lines of behavior. The engineers once indued Arthur with a semi-sophisticated artificial intelligence, gentleman manners and the restricted agenda of everyday duties beyond the bar counter. In a more narrow sense, he was manufactured as no more than an instrument of leisure for 5000 of the Avalon’s passengers and for the crew, limited to only four final months of the Space Odyssey of 120 years long.
We all die. Even androids end up on the scrap heap.
Looking further forward to the story, the exploitation capacity of Arthur was circumstantially prolonged to the extent of Jim’s and Aurora’s lives, from only four months up to decades. Scheduled hundreds and thousands of different unnamed passengers are now narrowed to only two protagonists. This unplanned sophisticated involvement into the story and hard times of only two human beings have widely allowed Arthur to fulfill his intended purpose, his existential destination for all in all: to become much more human-like than he was once engineered to serve. All while the unnumbered majority of passengers would give Arthur no other credit than a mechanical mediator with a bottle, first Jim and later Aurora appreciated the bartender as a newsworthy and delicate conversational companion. The cybernetic existence of Arthur is now enriched with dialogues on the purpose of human life, an inevitability of death, the complexity of a ‘right’ choice and predestination. He is now granted with an asked necessity not only to be pre-engineered companionable but to voice his ‘bartender wisdom’, more likely had been initially included in his program.
You’re not where you want to be. You feel like you’re supposed to be somewhere else.
Well, say you could snap your fingers and be wherever you wanted to be.
I bet you’d still feel this way. Not in the right place.
Point is, you can’t get so hung up on where you’d rather be
that you forget how to make the most of where you are.
Arthur gives a mere credit to the thoughts on his own purpose of existence, yet in a wider sense he ‘lives’ exactly according to his proclaimed wisdom. He serves only one and later two (three for a short period of time with a steward) passengers and devoted all his time to the restricted circle of the clients, thus deepening his attitude. He was initially engineered with certainty (or with no doubts to test this statement), that he is always at the very place, which is the best fo him. In a human contrast to Aurora and Jim, Arthur does not rive his heart with ‘rights or wrongs’, a feature natural for our multi-path mind. Arthur has his meaning of existence and Aurora attributes him to happiness. In a scene when Jim makes his statement, that his dialogue with Arthur is possible to the failure of the hibernation system, the bartender expresses his calmness and confidence, that the pods are false-safe. Subsequent to Aurora’s comment on Arthur’s purpose, he asks her about the planned book, a means that can shape and underline her own self-drawn destination. Arthur welcomes Jim’s brilliant ide to makes one’s life a million times better, yet he says that the action should not be done at the expense of another person. As time goes on, the bartender congratulates his devoted customer with an excellent choice of a fellow traveler, leaving the issues of morale on the roadside of his own system of values.
He spent months deciding whether to wake you up. He couldn’t stop talking about you.
He said it was the hardest decision of his life. But I see it worked out just fine.
THE TAKEAWAYS FROM ARTHUR
- A beautiful day like this (every day is no less than a beautiful option to choose)
- Every cloud has a silver lining. (It’s all to the good)
- Make the most of where you are (what you do with what you have)
- Take a break from worrying about what you can’t control. Live a little.
- Time heals all wounds
AURORA: A JOURNEY TO NOT FEELING ALONE
Unlike Arthur, who was initially engineered to make the most of his existence, Aurora does not have a clear vision of the place and people she wants to spend her life through. The on-camera interview initially grants us a false certainty that the writing has become her core undisputed passion, thus the purpose of life. At the same time, as the story goes on, the upcoming dialogues are being referred to as the shadow of Aurora’s father. It may well be, that a desire to write has not been Aurora’s dream, yet only a natural sequel of her father’s authority and a day-to-day example, she had been facing since the early childhood. Years have passed, yet Aurora is still on her never-ending pursuit with an image of a father, a Pulitzer prize winner with a kind of life that is almost impossible to be overshadowed. She states to find her satisfaction in a day of work with a panorama to a Chrysler building in New York, yet is she permanently dissatisfied with the current opportunities. In her preflight interview, she makes a semi-obvious confession, that she makes writing not to feel her alone. In a wider sense, she had become a self-made version of her father behind her own back.
I think we tell each other stories to know we’re not alone, to make contact.
“If you live an ordinary life, “all you’ll have are ordinary stories. “You have to live a life of adventure.”
Aurora fills the first pages of her future book about the Avalon adventures with an attribution of a Jim as a mechanic. In a deleted scene, drunk Aurora mentally tortures the only fellow traveler with a rhetoric question on the possibility of hew interest to Jim, a common laborer, back on Earth. She would later take Arthur’s advice for granted in an attempt to make the most of her current state. Now Jim is no more than the biggest sensation in a history of the space flights, who is worth being written about and highlighted to the future generations. Aurora asks Jim on the meaning of his decision (a journey from Earth), indeed she is hungry to reveal the answer for herself. The upcoming dialogues reveal the fact, that a young woman finds a little inspiration in motivational images, created by HOMSTED company to attract travelers. She had an idea to write a book (or a series of articles) on the most astonishing migration in history, however, Aurora appreciates the passengers as no more than the figures and objects for her interviews. She voices her complaint to Arthur on the self-made fact, that she is now destined for the eternal journey with no destination, yet that is indeed she had doomed herself: an everlasting search of one’s place in the world.
He seems to have accepted our fate. But I’m scared. I’m fighting to stay calm.
All the other passengers will sleep for another 90 years while I live out my life on this ship,
traveling forever… Never arriving…
The never-ending cloud-built pursuit for the ‘readers’ takes Aurora to a kind of awakening: she gives full marks to the exceptional nature of the situation, she and Jim had been destined to live through. As opposed to fulfilling a grey perspective of being two among 5000 passengers with a counting number, these two now have a chance to live the most incredible existence in the history of mankind, their own space odyssey. The video monologue of Aurora’s closest friend gives us clues to deepen into the indeed core motives of the female protagonist. The ‘abandoned’ friend does not wish beautiful sunsets on the unexplored planets as well as millions of readers. She wishes to find a person, who will fill Aurora’s emptiness and would be let in her heart. Even the dying Gus wishes the couple to take care of each other. Aurora makes a confession to her own writing, that for the first time in her life she does not fill herself lonely. After all the calls of the Avalon and now next to Jim Aurora feels that her life is not over. She and Jim are at the beginning of their incredible story.
This isn’t the life we planned. But it’s ours. And for the first time in my life, I don’t feel alone.
We weren’t supposed to find each other.
But we did. He makes me feel like my life isn’t over. Like it’s just beginning.
JIM: SEEKING A FRESH START
In success measured contrast to Aurora’s devotion on Earth: a cozy panorama over Chrysler building and the crowds of New York, the nest friend and obvious attention of the male demography, Jim’s life back home is hard to be attributed as a bright one. Putting together the shatters he has given us to make conclusions, Jim did experience the self-irrelevance with his archaic skills of the mechanic, a profession that has lost its general demand back on Earth of the proposed future. All while Aurora’s deepest motivation deals with the necessity not to feel alone (which is arguably correlates with the decision to leave the planet and friends), a desire to be useful, to be something of a value is the driving force of Jim’s journey. A helpful person is a happy person. Having no financial capacity to pay off the full price for the journey, this young mechanic practically agrees to spend the upcoming decades of his acting working life paying a debt to a multi-billionaire conglomerate. With nothing than a sincere belief in the inspiring advertising mottos. Maybe, this is his very choice rather than a lack of it?
Well, I guess I just wanted a new world, I don’t know, a fresh start. A mechanic is somebody.
This is a new world still being built. I could build a house and live in it. Open country. Room to grow
Aurora takes the mickey out of Jim for his ingenuous simple-minded faith in dreams of a bright future, yet he is the person who has taken a step and made a decision on his years to come, with a willingness to take a one-way ticket in pursuit of a fresh start. While Aurora lost herself in own thoughts, Jim has drawn an image of a promising tomorrow. He’s a dreamer in the best sense of the word as he prefers not to infiltrate own mind with the negative variations of the future, but to believe. As well as Aurora and the majority of people (Avalon passengers as well) he could not have a confidence of the prosperous future, yet Jims is self-fueled with hope, he pushes himself to think positively and he appreciates the other passengers (within their hibernation pods) as people, who, as well as he himself, want to change the life for better. Subsequent to the dialogues with an Android and Arthur’s ‘bartender pearls of wisdom’, Jim takes active actions to improve his being, even though the loneliness on Avalon drives him a one step from the suicide on the back of a number of humiliating self-tortures.
I see 5,000 men and women changing their lives. For 5,000 different reasons.
Jim takes the advantage of a number of comforts and privileges on the Avalon, including the restaurant food (yet he can count for a standard oatmeal breakfast within the main hall), going cinema, playing a lonely basketball and even spacewalking. For all that he feels his own uselessness and this core behavioral motive could not be fulfilled in loneliness. He experiences a glimpse of Aurora behind the pod glass and the former dreams of being a mechanic in a new world are now being overshadowed with a more powerful visualization of himself next to this showy young woman. Jim enthusiastically fills his own mind with a whole new imagined world with Aurora, yet this hope drains his life even faster than the loneliness. He shares his disturbing thoughts with Arthur, revealing the fact that a girl of his dreams is now just in front of him, but totally inaccessible. In a wider philosophical sense, his brain exercises on the possibility of their acquaintance back on Earth are worthless as it was destined for these two to live life together on the Avalon and no other place and time. He would probably not have the stomach to introduce himself to a girl like Aurora.
You get to fly to another planet, but you’ll die along the way.
And you find the perfect woman right in front of you… Yet she’s completely out of reach.
Arthur delivers his pearls of wisdom that Jim should stop thinking in terms of the imagined future and rather to fulfill it presently: to think in terms that the grass is, in fact, is always greener on this very site where he is now. For all that, even Jim’s claim that he was not supposed to find himself in such status is no more than a misjudging. Once Jim has modernized his acceptance, he understands that every moment of his life, each fails and wins, has shaped his path to the Avalon and to live next to Aurora. He was self-frustrated with a thought on the senior passing away on a ship in space, yet he would probably die as a mediocrity within Homsted, as a former mechanic with a lifetime duty to serve people, who had the money for the ticket and a grand breakfast from the machine. We can now perceive the ‘lost in space’ catchword (at the beginning of the story) as a metaphor, as Jim had lost himself years before a space journey. Aurora fills him with a new and proven sense to live. She needs him, he loves her, he wants to build a house for her, which he would indeed accomplish within the epilogue.
I wish we’d have met in 90 years. I’d have built you a house.
I’d have read your book. It’s gonna be great.