In the beginning of the film the viewer is aware that the year is 2027 but yet we do not see many futuristic advancements that we would expect to see. Once Theo steps out of the cafe we see that the future looks more torn down than our modern day society. Immediately we realize something is wrong when there is a gloomy setting with litter filled streets, dirty buses, and rickshaws as means for transportation in London. The controversial depiction of 2027 confuses the audience. The confusion helps to set up the dystopia because it contributes to the chaotic nature of a dystopia.
One of the most prominent connections that can be made in the movie “Children of Men” is the biblical connection and many references the movie makes to experiences that have happened in the bible. To begin the title “Children of Men” is from psalm 115:16 that says “The heaven, even the heavens, are the LORD’S: but the earth hath he given to the children of men.” I find this very interesting because there is a scene in the movie where the citizens are protesting with signs that read such things as God is the one who has taken away infertility as a punishment. But in this psalm it is saying that God has given us the greatest of greats, the earth. The entire movie is based on this idea of keeping Kee safe because she is pregnant with the one thing that holds the answers to everything and that will save humanity. This could be seen as a direct biblical allusion to the Nativity story and Mary’s journey to the birth of our savior Jesus. By having such a powerful connection I believe made the movie overall more compelling. Being a catholic myself I was able to connect on a different level because of the similar stories. It made the movie stronger in my eyes.
Theo’s character undergoes an evolution throughout the movie. When we are first introduced to Theo, he is a depressed and hopeless coward, no longer involved in the rebels effort. He resistantly assists Julian in helping Kee get to the Human project. As Julian, and then Miriam die, he fills the role of Kee’s protector and leader.
He develops heroic characteristics and sacrifices his life for the survival of the human race. Cuaron chooses not to give Theo any weapons throughout the entire movie, nor does Theo show any interest for a weapon. He is not overwhelmingly handsome or well dressed, and he does not run towards danger but away from it. And in the end, Theo dies, without seeing the results of what he sacrificed his life for.
Cuaron dismantles all previous masculine heroic stereotypes illustrating Theo’s vulnerability and strength to carry on in the face of loss and death.
Theo developed greatly throughout the movie, whether it be through emotional turmoil or catastrophic experience he went from a mentally and physically numb character to a man who would do anything to protect a baby that wasn’t even his.
The writer accomplishes this by establishing his initial numbness, ex: Baby Diego dies and he doesn’t seem to care, smokes and drinks throughout the movie, has little attachment to anyone besides Jasper, an old man in the woods who even he thinks is crazy.
Then as he is stripped down to almost nothing, and the people he loves most are taken away from him. His ex who hints at a future with him is killed within the first 30 minutes of the film and that is the first step of a long process which turns our once numb character into a vulnerable savior. Theo then loses Jasper in an attempt to free Kee from her many pursuers. This tears him apart and leaves him essentially grasping for any emotional stability he can, thus he latches on to Kee even more.
It became obvious that Theo was going to die before the movie ended when he had helped Kee birth the baby. It was then and there that he had fully opened himself to the world and had completed his growth as the vulnerable character. Then sadly, as cinema has proven time and time again, when a character completes their development, they either die, or begin a new life. In a dystopian London it is a pretty obvious choice for the writer to make.
The film “Children of Men” [Caurón 2006] explores themes relating to post 9/11 warfare, terrorism, and governmental inhumanity. The plot develops to show an overwhelming and oppressive government which terrorizes its citizens. The main characters in the film have an intense fear and dislike of their government, and are quickly labeled as terrorists after they clash with police officers. This alludes to the efforts of the West to combat terrorism after the events of 9/11. In many countries, such as the United States, these efforts were directed both domestically and internationally. Frequently, citizens felt as if their rights were being infringed upon, as the government used anti-terrorism efforts to justify its increased presence in citizens’ lives and to breach certain laws in the name of national security.
Furthermore, the fighting scenes at the end of the film could easily be set in modern day Iraq or Afghanistan to portray the guerrilla warfare being used to eliminate insurgents, often times at the expense of innocent civilian lives. The weapons and battle tactics shown also seem to mirror those that one would see in a film about the Gulf Wars, despite the fact that this film takes place in 2027. This is one of many examples of the presence of realism in Children of Men. The world created by its writers is one that is not unbelievably far from what it is like to live in certain parts of the world. The style of warfare, along with the prevalence of civilian casualties shown in the film, is common in many parts of the Middle East right now.
Another example of an allusion to the political and militaristic setting of the post 9/11 world is evidenced by the refugee camps depicted in Children of Men. The images shown are reminiscent of Abu Ghraib Prison and Guantanamo Bay, two facilities where alleged terrorists were sent to be detained. They were often unlawfully tortured in order to gain intelligence, despite the fact that most of them did not have a fair trial. There was an extreme and inhumane abuse of power as American officers abused prisoners at these facilities, this abuse was in many ways similar to the officers’ violence towards the detainees in Children of Men.
Overall, the film seems to allude to themes of corrupt, violent and untrustworthy government in the post 9/11 world. This fictional world also draws parallels to modern society in its depiction of the painful and complex dynamic of a terror-ridden nation, where the loss of innocent human lives is frequent.
WARNING: Potential spoilers in video (not really, but I figured I might as well warn you just in case).
The tracking shots seen in Children of Men were brilliantly choreographed and they reminded me of a similar tracking shot in True Detective, a police drama that debuted last year on HBO. Most of you have probably heard of it, but the show follows two detectives (Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson) in Louisiana as they try to track down a serial killer with a fetish for the macabre and odd-ritualistic sacrifice. It was up for a series of awards, and if you haven’t seen it, you should definitely check it out.
That being said, sorry for any potential spoilers. The tracking shot is seen at the end of the fourth episode, “Who Goes There” and follows Matthew McConaughey as a sting operation gets out of control. It doesn’t give too many plot details away, but it is definitely a huge turning point in the style of the show. The choreography may not be as impressive as Children of Men, but it is definitely well-crafted and the amount of action taking place in the background is astonishing. I think it is at least work a comparison.
Note: There’s quite a bit of expletives and violence in this scene, a small warning for the faint of heart.
This article details five scenes showcasing the style that Emmanuel Lubezki, (the Cinematographer for Children of Men), has honed throughout his career. The sense of childhood wonder expressed in the scene from The Tree of Life is just one of many examples of the type of masterwork from Lubezki. http://www.vulture.com/2013/09/emmanuel-lubezki-gravity-alfonso-cuaron-terrence-malick.html
Before the movie began, I decided to take detailed notes on the cinematography and camera work done within the movie. I wanted to compare the camera work in different scenes. This is what I came away with. Between the action scenes, dialogue, and traveling scenes, the camera work was different. In the dialogue scenes, the camera work was mostly comprised of cuts because they are the easiest and fastest way to transition. In the traveling scenes, the camera work mainly comprised of pans and tilts to demonstrate distance traveled. In addition, pans and tilts show the environments in which the characters travel. On the other hand, in the action-filled scenes, the director decided to use both techniques. He used pans specifically in the rebel vs. military battle to show the horrific views of the battlefield. The cuts were used to demonstrate the personal struggles of both sides. To conclude, I want to add my two favorite shots throughout the film. My first favorite occurred in the abandoned school where Theo and the old lady were talking. The camera angle revealed the pregnant woman through a small hole in the glass window demonstrating the fact that even in the background, she’s the glimmer of hope for humanity. My other favorite shot was the last in the film. It was the shot that included Theo’s dead body and the arriving ship. My note: “In this frame, where there is life, there is death.”
In Children of Men , the idea of human rights are often called into question, perhaps most noticeably with the illegal immigrants. Not only were citizens encouraged to live in a state of suspicion and mistrust of possible immigrants around them, illegal immigrants that were caught were also caged, sometimes tortured, and then deported. I believe that the film makes a powerful statement by comparing illegal immigrant prisons to what seem like prisoner of war camps, and in this way calls into question our own modern day real approaches towards illegal immigrants. I believe that the film cautions against a future in which we may forget the basic humanity and human rights of illegal immigrants in our real-life quest to protect our borders. I also believe that this is another example of dark realism within the movie.
The main issue with the Children of Men was the fact that almost all of the women were infertile. My issue with this is that there are other ways of having children, like a test tube baby. If this film follows real life events until 2006 then test tube babies would exist. The first test tube baby was born in 1978 so why couldn’t the world look to this as a solution? It does not require women to carry the baby, all it requires is egg and sperm. So if test tube babies existed during and before the movie takes place then why is there so much widespread disaster? Yes, there would still be struggles but the entire world would still be able to function with a smaller population, like it did in the past. If anything this would allow for population control, which may be a good thing depending upon your belief of the human race. Either way the main plot of the movie can be completely negated by the existence of test tube babies. Plus there are egg and sperm banks so the population could still continue for the 18 years of infertility.