Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Children of Men


Finally got to see this one on DVD.

Brilliant.

Not perfect, certainly. The novel is dense and a lot had to be left out, but it was masterfully done.

I have a thing about adaptations. I'm very forgiving if the net result is that the film evokes the same sort of awe and feeling that the novel did. To me this is what made The Lord of the Rings work so well. The same with Children of Men.

For those who haven't seen it, the film takes place in 2027, eighteen years after the last baby on earth was born. Sometime in 2009, pregnant women miscarried their children, then childbirth ended altogether. The world, of course, has become a cesspool. Britain has become an isolationist state, caging and deporting foreigners as illegals, "Fugees" (short for refugees.)

Clive Owen plays Theo, a 40-something bureaucrat who has pretty well lost all hope. The streets are filled with garbage. There is an oppressive police presence... in all, quite 1984-ish and quite well rendered. It is at once easy to identify with Theo and feel the hopelessness of the world. The terminal generation is here. We're all gonna die and be gone in the next 60 years or so.

Naturally, Theo is snatched from his insipid existence by an ex-lover who happens to lead a pro-foreigner group of subversives planning a future uprising. They need him to use his bureaucratic (and family) connections to secure traveling papers for a young woman in their care.

A pregnant young woman.

This film is filled with shocking and miraculous moments. The director, Alfonso Cuaron, uses long stretches of real time to ratchet up the suspense, inducing breathtaking anxiety for the viewer. This real-time effect makes it even easier to suspend disbelief and be part of this horror of a future.

Some of the sequences are horrifying. The sight of a dilapidated elementary school (no children anymore, remember?) is heartbreaking. Yet in between there are several simply miraculous sequences. The scene where Theo finally realizes exactly who the young woman is and why she's important is simply amazing.

Some of the violence and the scenes of war and uprising are pretty raw, but this is a must see, even for the squeamish.

A note on the DVD extras... much of them are very interesting. However, the one where you have all of these experts almost raging on capitalism and espousing a turn (or return, depending on where you live) to communism is ridiculous, myopic, scare-mongering. Some good points they had to make were lost in their extremist reactions to what they were discussing. Obviously some folks need to spend some time in China, or look into the old USSR. That worked out well.

Anyway, a stunning film. Go rent it if you haven't seen it yet.

5 comments:

Don said...

Never heard of it. Sounds good. I always dig this dystopian stuff but rarely manage to see any. I'm curious why the author thought an end to having children would lead to such collapse. And of course, never mind that human cloning research would get just a little more funding under these circumstances. The experts sound deeply annoying. The elementary school scenario would be very moving. There was an abandoned school next to the train station where I stayed in Italy last month and it never failed to inspire a range of emotions. I forget sometimes that not every place is seeing its population continue to boom.

Mrs. G said...

My daughter and I watched it, and afterwards felt like we'd been holding our breath for the entire movie (and I'd read the book twice already!). It was exceptionally well done.

Teacake said...

Really? OMG I was so bored.

But it's great to see you, Looners! Hope all is well.

Jefe said...

Loved it!

PJ said...

I thought it was a fantastic movie too. Nearly fell off the couch from sitting so close to the edge the whole time.