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Children of Men


It's the year 2027 and the youngest person on Earth (an 18 year old) has been killed in a bar fight. Due to an unknown reason, women have lost the ability to conceive and have children, leading to social upheavals, wars, and worldwide despair.

A world-weary Theo (Clive Owen) is recruited by a group of terrorists/freedom fighters/greenies to escort a young girl who is miraculously pregnant to an altruistic group of scientists who hope to unravel how she became pregnant.

What I Thought

If it were up to me, this movie would have won Best Picture for 2006. While the premise is slightly absurd (absurd in the sense that the no-babies thing happens totally mysteriously and is never explained), the movie really isn't about that premise or even the story of Theo and Kee (the pregnant girl). Like any really good sci fi, it just uses the 'sci fi' part as a jumping off point to discuss real issues (the modern Battlestar Galactica makes very similar points on torture, politics, and shades-of-grey morality).

It is a deep commentary on immigration policy, terrorism, and torture. The further scenes about drug policy, advertisement, and government information/misinformation is almost an additional afterthought on top of all that.

This movie is set in England, now with its own department for homeland security, creating concentration/deportation camps for illegal immigrants (as the worldwide despair leads to massive shifts in populations), complete with cages, dogs, and a very chilling image of a man standing on a box with a hood on his head.

This movie was personally a very emotional one. Not only because of its engrossing story, or its amazing cinematography (the scene where the camera rotates inside the car as it is mobbed is amazing), or the great job all the actors do. It struck a deep resonance with me because of those background images of abuse, torture, and general vision of humanity it puts forth (and it's not a very good image!) .

You may say that these images were ripped off from the Abu Ghraib pictures, but then you remember that those pictures were REAL, that they happened, and are continuing to happen. I had a very visceral and disturbed reaction to this and couldn't shake that "punched in the gut" feeling all night after seeing this movie. It's one of the few movies that I know of whose feelings lasted significantly outside the theater in any serious way (I wonder if those people who originally saw movies like Kramer vs. Kramer or If These Walls Could Talk had the same reaction back then).

Yes, the ending is less than satisfactory, but just like the premise, the ending really doesn't matter. It's what happens in between that disturbs and haunts you. And for me, "haunt" is a good word for what this movie has done to me. I can't get those horrid images out of my head. Don't think "it can't happen here", we have the evidence to say it already has.


All photos and text copyright Ryszard Kilarski, unless otherwise noted. Clip art, drawings, paintings are either free domain or copyrighted by the artists.