'I'm Here' Is Still The Cutest Robot Romance Ever
I'm Here is a 2010 short film written and directed by Spike Jonze. It's a robot romance based mostly on the book The Giving Tree.
I remember when this short film came out, I absolutely fell in love with it. I love robots and I love romance, so this is something I would have written myself (and kind of did).
Almost ten years later, I still love the film.
Sheldon (Andrew Garfield -- yes, Spiderman) is a lonely robot living a life that is humdum and dull. He is the typical Brooding and Depressed Man trope.
He has no friends and works at the library, coming home to an empty apartment every evening.
Sheldon lives in a world where robots are clearly sentient but are largely treated as less than people.
While riding the bus to work, he notices a robot who has been hit by a car. Instead of showing any remote concern for him, the humans gathered in the street absently trip over the robot, ignoring his painful injuries to stare at the smashed car.
Eventually, Sheldon meets Francesca (Sienna Guillory) who notices him waiting on the bus stop and starts giving him rides to work everyday.
Like a true Manic Pixie Dream Girl, Fran teaches Sheldon how to be alive. She introduces him to music, parties, laughter, dreaming, and fun.
She even introduces him to robot sex. He plugs her in, whispering all the while, "How does that feel? Am I doing it right?" (Sheldon plugging himself up and sitting alone in his apartment every evening was totally a masturbation metaphor.)
Now when he comes home from his apartment, it is to find cute paper sculptures everywhere. She draws on his face. She dances.
They go for long walks in the park and generally enjoy being together.
But Fran's wild spirit comes with a price: she is constantly breaking herself. When she first meets Sheldon, she breaks her knee after a fall that should have caused way more damage.
Sheldon fixes her. He mentions having lots of refurbished parts in store but -- oddly enough -- never uses them again to fix Fran. Maybe he was just lying to impress her.
Later, they go to a concert, and Fran loses her arm after they are separated in the crowd. She is breathless and gasping in pain when they are reunited. Sheldon takes her from the concert to the hall. He returns to look for her arm, only to find it trampled by the oblivious people in the audience.
Sheldon gives Fran his arm instead.
It is a very sweet moment when Fran, after flexing her new arm experimentally, takes Sheldon's hand and holds it. Having realized how much he cares for her, she rests her head on his shoulder, and they listen in smiling content to the music drifting from the concert.
When Fran loses her leg, Sheldon convinces her to take his by telling her he had a dream. In the dream, several people were offering their leg to her. She chose his, and it made him very happy.
Realizing that Sheldon doesn't mind giving his parts away -- and in fact, enjoys being able to help her -- Fran allows him to attach the leg.
This is yet another very sweet gesture. Sheldon loves having Fran in his life and will do anything to keep her happy and in one piece. His gestures of affection are not sacrifices but gifts. He gives freely, at absolutely no cost, expecting nothing in return, only that Francesa will remain alive and happy.
To sacrifice something implies a loss or suffering on the part of the person making the sacrifice, but Sheldon is not unhappy and doesn't view himself as giving anything up. All that he owns belongs to Fran, and it's his choice that he made. It's a choice that makes him happy.
When Fran fails to pick him up from the library, Sheldon takes the bus home and receives a call from the hospital: Fran has been in an accident.
He rushes to the hospital to find her lifeless and severed body on the operating table. The decision to give Fran his body so that she can live seems to be an easy one for him.
When Fran wakes up, Sheldon is nothing but a head, having given her his body, on which her head is now attached. His severed head has been left on the adjacent operating table and is smiling warmly at her.
Much like the Giving Tree, Sheldon has given up everything he owns to protect and care for someone he loves dearly.
As she is pushed from the hospital in a wheelchair, Fran cradles Sheldon's severed head and a taxi comes to pick them up.
I like to imagine that Sheldon eventually gets a new body (what else was he doing with his money from the library?) and that Fran stops getting into so much trouble.
And with that head canon firmly in place, the film has a pretty beautiful ending.
© 2018 Ash