My Journey into science-fiction, Part 8 takes me from A Scanner Darkly to the 2006 film Children of Men. If you are curious to find out what connects these two films then please click the link below to find out.
Children of Men was written and directed by Alfonso Cuarón is a dystopian thriller based on the novel The Children of Men by P.D James. The film stars Clive Owen and has a supporting cast that includes Clare Hope Ashitey, Micheal Caine, Julianne Moore amongst other fine actors from television and film. Having received critical acclaim in the science-fiction community, it never did receive the Box Office results it truly deserves, then again how many great films do? Box Office doesn’t stand for quality, well to me it doesn’t anyway.
So let’s have a look at what it could be like in 2027 and hopefully we can learn something about 2018 in doing so? In the first few minutes of this film, I am instantly reminded of why I love this genre. It can give you a glimpse into a future that does not yet exist but can be possible. I love how a writer can study today’s landscape and manipulate that into a story that feels so relevant to himself and to others. Children of Men is one of those films that manages to do that so wonderfully. The story throughout has many tropes from the great stories of the past that also tried to predict the future such as Brave New World and 1984. It manages to combine those within a somewhat modern landscape we can recognise in such a tangible way that you feel involved through the story. The film is beautifully shot in a dreary looking United Kingdom. Humanity is no longer able to produce children and the country looks to be in total chaos. Theo Faron, Clive Owen plays a civil servant who is kidnapped by a gang called the “Fishes” which is run by his estranged wife Julian Taylor, Julianne Moore. Theo is asked to help an illegal refugee escape England and the turmoil the country faces. That refugee is called Kee who is carrying a child that is a miracle in this modern-day dystopia.
At this point of the film, Theo is still unaware of this and accepting to help his estranged wife for a large sum of money leaves in a car with a member of the terrorist group, Luke, his wife, Kee and a former midwife Miriam towards Canterbury. The car they are travelling in is attacked by what can only be described as a bunch of nomads on motorcycles and foot, Julian is killed after been shot and at this point, the film really began to catch my attention. It’s a little difficult to try and explain how realistic this sequence is to me as a viewer but the director manages to put you in that car and feel the emotion of all those characters, it’s such a wonderful piece of filmmaking and the film doesn’t really drop in standards after that. I can’t work out if it’s the look and style of the film or the fact that I live in England and see this scenery on a daily basis but it really is something special and shocking at the same time. Later Theo learns that it was, in fact, the fishes that had ordered Julian’s execution because of their own political reasons and he decides he must take Kee and the midwife to safety on his own. Again, we see another piece of brilliance as the main characters have to bump start the car to evade the terrorists. If that isn’t realism, then I don’t know what is!
Theo decides the best place to get help is from his old his friend Jasper Palmer, Michael Caine who looks like is totally loving this role by the way. Jasper learns of the plan to get Kee to the “Human Project” on a ship called the Tomorrow that will arrive offshore from a refugee camp in Bexley Hill. Jasper says he can help as he has a contact called Syd who he regularly sells drugs too. We also learn that Theo and Julian had a son called Dylan who died during a 2008 flu pandemic. Not only that, Theo was once an activist himself in the past. The group later leave Jasper and later Theo watches as Jasper is killed by Luke from the terrorist cell. It’s really hard for me to explain and review a film like this because as I said earlier there is so much to talk about. Each of these characters has a background that could make a feature-length film for themselves which makes the writing of this film so brilliantly executed. The group meet Syd at an abandoned school and he helps them board a bus to the Bexhill to get Kee to the boat on time.
Right, I’m going to try something a little different here now as I am becoming bored with my own writing so I can only guess that you, the would be doing the same about now! Yes, it’s a little unorthodox but I started this journey to see what I could learn from films like this and on this review, I have become a little lost. So here is the ending of the film. Theo and Kee are on a small boat waiting for the Tomorow to arrive. Theo having been shot is about to die but not before he has learnt Kee how to cradle the baby. During the film Kee had come up with a lot of names for the baby which included Bazooka which could be classed as normal in 2018, never mind 2027! At this point, she chooses to name the baby Dylan after Theo’s son. Theo dies and the Tomorrow appears in the background and the film ends.
Okay, a lot happens between the group meeting with up with Syd at the abandoned school and final scene on the boat but what the film made me feel, I thought was far more important to discuss than what actually happened. I’m no psychologist or politician; I even try to ignore current affairs these days as it just brings me down. Illegal refugees play a big part in this film and I am so happy to see them treated as human beings by the end instead of the way modern media treats them as statistics or a threat. I know that the news has always been an important part of society but to me, it seems to be just bloated nonsense a lot of the time and creates a fear for people all on its own. When I think of illegal immigrants now, I can’t help but think of the young boy on the shore of the sea, with his face down in the sand.
Art is what you make it and this film also gives me hope for humanity but it also makes me realise we never seem to stop fighting or understand the reason why we do it. Like I say, my basic understanding of humanity is very limited but I do think it’s important to remember who you are and what you believe in! Whatever the circumstances. There always seems to be a Head of something telling you what to do, whether it be an Army, Terrorist Group or any of the other millions of organisations across the planet,. Something I try to live by is by listening to myself. Yes, I know, life isn’t that simple but I also don’t need anybody pointing out how I should live my life either. It’s easy to watch the news and become scared of something you don’t understand. Yes, this story is exaggerated but it also holds an element of truth, that’s what great science-fiction does. What you believe that truth is, is down to you and I love that about this film. I love 1984 and Brave New World and now this film. It reminds me life is something special to appreciate. Like I say though, my life skills are very limited, but they are my thoughts and that’s what makes us unique. Maybe that’s why I really bought into this film because the characters are flawed and most of all; I can relate to them. Such an amazing piece of work and one you can learn something from. You can’t ask for much more than that.
Speaking of imagery, I did notice that animals seemed to play a big part in the film and I am unsure why? We had the pig over Battersea Power Station from the album Pink Floyd, Animals and camels and zebras walking through London. I must admit I really enjoyed this but would to know why it is a part of the film? Also, I think I noticed a nod to Soylent Green, 1984 and an amazing shot at the end showing Theo, Kee and the baby leaving on the boat that reminded me of Moses floating down the river from the Bible. I’m pretty sure on my second watch I will find a lot more. But Yeah, If anyone can answer the animal question, I would be very grateful.
Finding a way to link Children of Men to another film for me has been just been like writing this review, a little difficult. I have found something I think I can really enjoy next time, and that film is The Beatles, Yellow Submarine. The link is thanks to Michael Caine as his portrayal of Jasper Palmer. Caine used his experiences of meeting John Lennon as an inspiration for the role in the film and apparently loved playing this character. Coming from the North West of England I feel it is my duty to learn a little more about the Fab Four than just their hits, hopefully, this is a great place to start.