Scanlyze

The Online Journal of Insight, Satire, Desire, Wit and Observation

‘Children of Men’ is a Thoughtful, Provocative Science Fiction Drama

‘Children of Men’ is a Thoughtful, Provocative Science Fiction Drama

Children of Men
Universal Studios, 2007 (Widescreen Edition)

by Henry Edward Hardy

Children of Men is a brutal and provocative vision of modern society stressed beyond its breaking point. It is 2027, and no children have been born for 18 years. Theo Faron (Clive Owen) is a civil servant and former radical now working for the totalitarian civil administration in Britain. Theo is played with shell-shocked stupor by Owen. Theo fails to react visibly as a nearby shop blows up and a woman runs out screaming, holding the remains of her arm in her remaining hand. Owen’s best friend is broadly portrayed by Michael Caine, who channels John Lennon in his character of aging hippie “Jasper”.

Theo’s life of quiet desperation is shattered when his ex-wife-turned revolutionary, Julian (played by Julianne Moore), has him kidnapped and bribes him to assist in smuggling a young woman out of the country. Britain stands alone as much of the world descends into terrorism and anarchy–but it is a future Britain with much in common with dystopian novels such as George Orwell’s 1984.

Children of Men has much of the immediacy of a hand-held camera or a first-person view. A six minute sequence, apparently filmed continuously, represents the harshest and most realistic-appearing combat footage in cinema since Saving Private Ryan. The computer effects are undetectable; everything looks harshly, painfully real.

Children of Men is full of eclectic references, from Pink Floyd’s Animals to Banksey to Picasso to The Godfather to TS Elliot. When Theo and his companions enter a immigrant detention facility, one man in a metal cage stands in the Christ-like pose of the hooded man from the infamous Abu Ghraib photos. They are inducted to the detention facility through a metal series of aisles like a cattle corral over which hangs a sign reading “Homeland Security”.

Children of Men can be viewed as a futuristic road movie, a dystopian science fiction parable, or as a harsh and stinging attack on the repressive anti-terrorist and anti-immigrant policies of today. It is refreshing to see an action scene in which the hero or anti-hero doesn’t pick up a gun or use violence to resolve the situation. Director Alfonso Cuarón has produced a cataclysmic tour-de-force worthy of consideration and repeated viewing.

Copyright © 2007 Henry Edward Hardy

A version of this review was previously published by Current.

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5 September, 2007 - Posted by | 1984, Alfonso Cuarón, Britain, Children of Men, Clive Owen, dictatorship, dystopia, George Orwell, immigration, Julianne Moore, media, Michael Caine, movie, movies, Orwell, repression, review, scanlyze, science fiction, terrorism, UK, video

4 Comments »

  1. They released the movie on Christmas eve. Something about the baby representing Jesus. Good movie, but I’m too old to care about “deep” stuff. I’ll stick to the fart jokes; Wedding crashers, etc.

    Comment by Mustafa Ozturk | 5 September, 2007 | Reply

  2. Yes the “Jesus element” is there. However, in the movie, it is played off in a self-deprecating or even sarcastic vein. Christian religious reviewers have been divided on whether the movie is coyly religious or deeply profane. The title of the book and movie may be a reference to Psalm 90:

    Psalm 90 (King James Version)
    King James Version (KJV)

    Public Domain

    Psalm 90

    1Lord, thou hast been our dwelling place in all generations.

    2Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God.

    3Thou turnest man to destruction; and sayest, Return, ye children of men.

    4For a thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night.

    5Thou carriest them away as with a flood; they are as a sleep: in the morning they are like grass which groweth up.

    6In the morning it flourisheth, and groweth up; in the evening it is cut down, and withereth.

    7For we are consumed by thine anger, and by thy wrath are we troubled.

    8Thou hast set our iniquities before thee, our secret sins in the light of thy countenance.

    9For all our days are passed away in thy wrath: we spend our years as a tale that is told.

    10The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away.

    11Who knoweth the power of thine anger? even according to thy fear, so is thy wrath.

    12So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.

    13Return, O LORD, how long? and let it repent thee concerning thy servants.

    14O satisfy us early with thy mercy; that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.

    15Make us glad according to the days wherein thou hast afflicted us, and the years wherein we have seen evil.

    16Let thy work appear unto thy servants, and thy glory unto their children.

    17And let the beauty of the LORD our God be upon us: and establish thou the work of our hands upon us; yea, the work of our hands establish thou it.

    Comment by scanlyze | 5 September, 2007 | Reply

  3. […] Boy and His Dog, Mad Max, especially the Beyond Thunderdome, the third installment, V for Vendetta, Children of Men, The Handmaid’s Tale and many others. However it is a nice place from which to explore good […]

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