Children of Men
The last one to die please turn out the light.
The year is 2027, for 18 years women have been incapable of giving birth. The world is rapidly collapsing due to the cataclysmic environmental effects of pollution and famine. With global powers struggling to maintain order, one nation stands tall and remains calm whilst carrying on – Great Britain, of course (provided you ignore the rampant crime, frequent terrorist attacks, and violent treatment of migrants)! The film follows civil servant and former activist Theo Faron (Owen), who drifts through the end of days like many others. However, everything changes once he meets Kee (Ashitey), who is, by some miracle, pregnant. He agrees to accompany her to a somewhat mythical group ‘The Freedom Project’ in hopes of finding a way to end the global infertility crisis.
This sci-fi dystopian thriller is genuinely one of greatest films ever made. The cinematography is mesmerising, the grim colour palette communicates the depressed, desperate nature of the world and impressive one-shot sequences show off the gritty and genuinely unnerving combat. A standout element of this film for me is that, despite the futuristic setting, the lack of advanced technology and neon signage we have come to expect makes it feel grounded in contemporary society, making its themes of racism, immigration, religion and hope feel even more relevant to today. Children of Men is impactful and I guarantee that it will stay with you: truly a vital watch that I cannot recommend enough.
In the year 2027, no babies have been born in 18 years, leading to an almost worldwide collapse of society. After the world’s youngest person is killed, Theo Faron (Owen) is contacted by his estranged wife, Julian Taylor (Moore), the leader of an immigrant’s rights group in Britain, who asks him to guide and protect a young immigrant woman, who may be humanity’s last hope. But their journey will not be easy, as everyone with power and an agenda has an interest in the woman, and Theo soon wonders whom he can trust.
The largely British cast provide some of their best performances in recent years. Clive Owen plays a role he seems to have done several times before, but you feel for him and hope he survives in his quest to save the world. Julianne Moore and Chiwetel Eijofor both put in pitch perfect supporting performances, but Michael Caine has to receive special mention as the slightly spaced hippie Jasper, playing a role so against type so well it’s almost surreal. The whole cast comes together to deliver a believable apocalyptic future, where you care for each and every person.
Alfonso Cuarón pulls out all the stops directing. When there’s action, the film is fast paced and frantic, but the film slows down at the right moments to allow the viewer to fully understand and feel the characters problems and emotions. He also finds space to slip a little black humour into the mix, but it’s used sparingly, and is all the more effective for it.
Even if you go away having not enjoyed the film, it’s hard to deny that it doesn’t make you think about some interesting topics. Whilst Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban will be seen as Cuarón’s most popular film, Children of Men is without doubt his most powerful and thought provoking.
What would happen if a wave of infertility spread across the entire human race? If scientists could not work out the cause and why every culture of humans was affected? Children of Men is set in a world where such a scenario has gripped mankind for eighteen years. With humanity staring into its own extinction, much of the world has collapsed into chaos, but the United Kingdom has maintained some order only by rigorously guarding its borders. Immigrants are kept out of cities by barbed wire fences manned by soldiers, or forced into refugee camps around the UK. With the population in such depression, British citizens are issued with complimentary sleeping pills and suicide drugs by the government, free of charge. Amongst all the misery though, one lowly immigrant girl falls pregnant.
Clive Owen plays Theo, an unhappy man living in London, whose only happy moments are visiting Jasper (Caine), a middle aged hippie who lives out in the countryside. Theo's ex fiancée, Julian (Moore), is now the leader of a radical terrorist group, and she asks him for help transporting pregnant Kee (Ashitey) to the coast. What results is one of the most intelligent and original films in recent years. The acting and the script are superb but what really sets this film apart is its style.
Children of Men looks realistic. That doesn't mean it has amazing CGI, it doesn't have any- what it does have is the rugged look of a news report. For example, the camera is almost entirely from the perspective of someone following the characters, so there are no point of view shots. Also the settings are rich with events going on in the background, and the film manages to have most of the action moving past the camera, rather than the camera moving towards it.
The effect of a world without children gives this film some incredibly moving scenes because they touch on something embedded into the human psyche. The characters’ journey is a very hard one; moving and tense it is believable and engrossing in a way not seen before.
Hand on heart, this is the best film I've seen all year.Nick Grills
Screenings of this film:
|2006/2007 Spring Term – (35mm)
|2006/2007 Spring Term – (35mm)
|2010/2011 Spring Term – (35mm)
|2023/2024 Spring Term – (35mm)