Children of Men
Children of Men is a dystopian sci-fi that takes place in the year 2027. It has been 18 years since the last baby was born as a result of women becoming infertile. Britain is the last nation with a functioning government but plagued with rising terrorist attacks, and flocks of immigrants attempting to find refuge. The film opens up in a cafe with Theo Faron (Clive Owen) watching the news of world’s youngest human “Baby Diego”, a 18 year old Argentine, being murdered after refusing to give a someone an autograph. As he leaves the cafe, he is nearly killed by an explosion that occurred from inside the shop.
The next day he is kidnapped by an underground militant immigrant right’s group called The Fishes. He is surprised to see that his former wife Julian Taylor (Julianne Moore) is a apart of the group, She ask him to use his connections with the government to acquire transit papers for a refugee named Kee (Clare-Hope Ashitey), and in return he will receive a large sum of money, however she makes it known that he has to accompany her along the way. Theo, Key, Julian, her associate Luke (Chiwetel Ejiofor) and former midwife Miriam (Pam Ferris) head out towards the southern coast but find themselves in a few dangerous situations, and causing them to part separate ways. In the midst of the chaos Theo learns the importance of keeping Kee safe, and is promised by his friend, former political activist Jasper (Michael Caine) that he will aid them in reaching a ship called the Tomorrow, a vessel belonging to The Human Project, a group of scientist looking to restore human fertility.
Alfonso Cuarón’s Children of Men is nothing short of a masterpiece. I may say that too frequently about films but in terms of a cinematic achievement it’s pinnacle. As I continue to return to this film, to this ruined vision of London, I forget this is not a real place. The art department nailed it on creating this city in ruins. The walls are ravaged by graffiti on the walls, immigrants contained in cells, and homeless humans and animals alike living on these streets. Now two things I loved about the detail of this film. Firstly this film was made in 2006, and in the film Theo is wearing a torn up 2012 Olympic hoodie in the year 2027. Secondly, which I did not know at first, but a lot of scenes in this film have dogs wandering around the streets. Those are two trivial aspects that enjoy.
This film approaches it’s action scenes with extreme perfection in a sense of it being realistic. Cuarón’s trademark usage of long takes is imposed throughout the film. A scene when the group is ambushed by a terrorist group while they are driving, is one of the most abrupt and violent scenes I’ve ever seen in cinema. What makes this work is way it’s filmed, due to the use of long takes, these action scenes are played out in real time and you believe these people are in real danger as they desperately try to escape. Now, I know there are a few people who base whether or not they’ll watch a film is after they read the synopsis on IMDb, this is one of the films where the story comes second in comparison to the visuals much like the directors later work Gravity.
The theme I found to be the most interesting is Hope. In a world where everything is falling apart, and humans are no longer capable of reproducing gives a sense of Hope fading away. Theo doesn’t initially care so much about what’s going in the environment around him. “Even if they discovered the cure for infertility, doesn’t matter! Too late. World went to shit. Know what? It was too late before the infertility thing happened, for fuck’s sake.” As the Human Project is brought into play, you begin to wonder, Is this a real organization? Will they even be able to help? Can they make it through the chaos? All Theo and the group can do is try to remain hopeful that everything will go well for them. The most present moment of this theme is the ending, which I won’t spoil for anyone, but Cuarón leaves room for the viewer to come to his own conclusions.
Clive Owen is not the at the top of the A list movie stars, but he is a damn good actor and furthermore proves it here. Clare-Hope Ashitey was just okay for me, it seems like she wasn’t ready for this type of role. However with that being said, It works because in the film she’s this young girl that’s confused with all this pressure placed on her. Julianne Moore was well Julianne Moore. Chiwetel Ejiofor was solid in his role.
There are few films that have left such a huge impression on me. When this film came out I was only 14 years old. Children of Men along with Blood Diamond a few months prior, opened my eyes up to Cinema and the realities of the world. Before the release of these two films I was watching things that kids would usually watch. All of a sudden one late night my parents decide to take us on a trip to the theaters to see Blood Diamond. I remember sitting in the hallway after the film trying to figure out why these kids were treated that way, and all the inhumane acts. Soon after we saw Children of Men which had the same effect on me.
Cuarón creates a science fiction that is in a world where humans haven’t progressed much as a society. It does bid as a warning towards the future and one can only hope that we aren’t headed on the same path. Children of Men is an incredible movie, that will surely be looked back in the future as a masterpiece by upcoming film lovers. I can only expect more works of art from Cuarón after his most recent release Gravity.
Rating: ★★★★★ / ★★★★★
Dir. Alfonso Cuarón
IMDb 7.9/10 – Rotten Tomatoes 93%
Won LAFCA – Best Cinematography
Nominated BAFTA Film Award – Special Effects
Nominated for 3 Academy Awards – Writing, Cinematography, Editing
Won BAFTA Film Award – Best Cinematopgraphy & Production Design
American Society of Cinematographers – Outstanding Achievement in Cinematography
“As the sound of the playgrounds faded, the despair set in. Very odd, what happens in a world without children’s voices.”