Children symbolize so much to humanity. Each is a clean slate, innocent and full of contagious joy. As adults, we strive to create a brighter future with them in mind. And for each parent, they are a precious gift, a piece of themselves that gets to live on. Imagining a world without children, means a world with no hope for the future.
In Children of Men, the human race has become infertile and the youngest living person, eighteen year old baby Diego, has just been killed. There are hints that the world has been ravaged from nuclear war, pollution, disease and violence. While it seems that many other countries have fallen, Britain limps on. Bombings and violence are regular occurrences. Within every citizen’s rations are anti depressants and a suicide kit, yet marijuana is still illegal. The government works like a terrorist network to track down, publicly cage, and even execute illegal aliens (mostly survivors from fallen nations, I assume). This near futuristic world is bleak, unsettling and dangerous.
Theo (Clive Owen) is a hardened man, just existing in this crumbling world. He has a history of rebellion against the government. His friend and retired political cartoonist, Jasper (Michael Cane), has successfully made a happy home off the grid, where he grows and sells marijuana. When a woman from his past, Julian (Julianne Moore), asks for his help in illegally transporting a young woman, Kee (Clare-Hope Ashitey), there is much more at stake than he could have imagined.
One thing that I find amazing about this film is the way director Alfonso Cuarón makes use of long shots. Though most are digitally spliced together and not traditional long shots like Hitchcock used, they hold our attention and create suspense just as wonderfully. In one, the camera stays within a car and rotates to show us the action inside and outside the car, going from a fun memory shared, to chaos, violence and tragedy without blinking away. Toward the end, a shot lasts for over six minutes, following Theo as he moves through an erupting uprising. Violence spirals all around, bullets seem to be whizzing and popping from all over and he searches through the chaos and despair for Kee and her most precious cargo.
At the Academy Awards, Children of Men was nominated for three awards: best cinematography, film editing and adapted screenplay. They were lost to The Departed and Pan’s Labyrinth. The running for best picture was pretty tight, but if there had been ten nominees, Children of Men would have surely secured a nomination.
Children of Men is a powerful, thought provoking film portraying a desperate world with no hope. Set only fifteen years in the future now, I’m always relieved when science fiction is not likely to become reality. Since the tone is so bleak, even when hope emerges, it may not be the most enjoyable film for everyone. However, this is a recent film done so well, in both visual technology and story line, that I believe it is destined to become a classic.
“As the sound of the playgrounds faded, the despair set in. Very odd, what happens in a world without children’s voices.”
THanks for this review. I have seen the film but only once, and Iit was before I started reviewing films. I think I shall have another look at it thanks to your review.
Thank you JMM, I first saw this before I started reviewing too and fully recommend seeing it again.
Well said. This is one of my favourite films from the past decade without a doubt.
Thanks Ian, the more I see it, the more I love it.
Such a great film. Truly, a great film. I really did enjoy this the first time I saw it – I was moved by it, and still regard this as Clive Owens’ best role. I really need to get this on BluRay and watch it again….. Hmmm……
Thanks Rodney, I would love to see it on BluRay.
a great movie, especially in its odd merging of post-apocalyptic thriller elements with the social realism of a very British dystopia. I like the lack of glamourous and shiny end-of-world visuals, replacd by a dimly lit, grey colour scheme, shaky handheld camera visuals and the Clive Owen’s weary face at center. Him, Michael Caine and Julianne Moore together … great acting, great screen presences and very skillfully crafted atmosphere of doom. a really great achievement! My notes on the film at http://thomas4cinema.wordpress.com/2010/11/22/children-of-men/.
Well said, Thomas. I’m not always a fan of a shaky handheld camera shots, but here it really works.
I actually cried when I saw this movie! The fact that it’s filmed to look like an amateur cameraman did it, adds miles to the realism! The sad thing is that all these events and scenes can actually happen at one point…
That is such a scary thing to think about. Thank you for all the wonderful comments today! 🙂 Hope to read more in the future.
The birth scene, incredible! The attention to detail throughout the film is extraordinary! The production design, extras casting, stunts, photography, acting and, of course, phenomenal director!
Well said, Dallas, such a great film. Thanks for commenting!