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
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
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.