I believe this is the first film on the list that I’d taught scenes, but had never seen the entirety of the film. The opening sequence appeared on a final exam I gave my film students two years ago. Children of Men came to my attention because of Emmanuel Lubezki and the Oscar the film won for cinematography. I’ve owned it since that final, but I never got around to watching it. I give Children of Men the Not Quite Golden, Ponyboy rating.
Children of Men is set in a dystopian 2027 where women are somehow all infertile. Theo Faron (Clive Owen), a former activist, is contacted by an old friend, Julian (Julianne Moore), to help transport a miraculously pregnant women to a sanctuary at sea.
I really loved Clive Owen’s character in this film. The change he goes through is extremely believable and I found myself relating to his change. A man who has been stripped of hope and turned completely cynical finds a purpose. He is cold and seems extremely disinterested in most of the world. As we learn about his past it becomes more clear why he’s turned so sour. However,the hope Kee (Clare-Hope Ashitey) slowly pulls out the caring man who was an activist at a different time.
The film was written and directed by Alfonso Cuaron and brilliantly crafted cinematographically by Lubezki. There are two iconic scenes with long takes that I’d used in class to teach. The opening sequence shows Theo going to get a coffee despite the rest of the crowd being distracted by the death of the youngest man alive. The camera follows Theo as he walks down the street and sets his coffee down to pour some whiskey in it. The camera rotates to show the section of the road where he’d just come from as a bomb goes off. It’s so shocking and really establishes the nightmare world he lives in.
Last thoughts on Children of Men
It’s a very interesting film that leaves me wanting to know more about the world of the film. Much like other dystopian stories that I’ve been interested in, the details of how the world has fallen into this state are often left to the imagination. I’m not sure if that is because it’s hard to write a believable explanation or if the mystery is just more powerful. I do recommend this film as it’s story and performances are solid.