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Go See Children of Men

I finally got around to seeing Children of Men last night, and if you’ve been considering seeing it, are on the fence, I implore you to go and catch it in a theater before it disappears. It’s a good film, and a cinematographic treat. You will definitely lose something if you wait to see it on DVD.

Now, I wanna talk about the film, so I’ll put the rest of my thoughts after the jump…

I don’t know how much more I can add to what has been put out there. If you’ve seen the film, and are at all a film nerd, you’ll want to read the FAQ on IMDB, which addresses the amazing single-take battle scene and car chase.

Some things that occurred to me during and after:

Theo (Clive Owen) never uses a gun. He’s surrounded by available weaponry, but the worst he does is pick up a heavy object to bludgeon a pursuer with. It reminds me of Patrick Swayze’s character in the movie GHOST (who never has a direct hand in any murder), and even Walker in POINT BLANK (who uses a gun, but kills no one.)

Clive Owen is Hollywood’s go-to guy for when you need a cipher. Whether here, or INSIDE MAN, or CROUPIER, if you need a tabula rasa upon which an audience can project emotion, and around which you can provide action, Owen is your man.

Thinking about it a bit more, there’s little difference between Theo and Forrest Gump, apart from their accents. Both are just two essentially good guys trying to do the right thing and finding themselves caught up in improbable events in which they have very little agency.

The hand-held camera things works amazingly well.

When the DVD comes out, I want an annotated version that cites all the pertinent cultural referents. The intertubes have already pointed out that the flying pig alludes to the album cover of Pink Floyd’s Animals, Banksy’s graffiti art is on display, or how the credits end exactly the way T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land ends. The biblical/religious allusions (naming the character Theo(-logy), the exceedingly maculate conception, Theo’s sandals (flip-flops). I want a pop-up video version of the film.

I’m intrigued by Kee being African, as it kind of suggests a “do over” for humanity.

Supposedly the novel deals with fertility issues with men; the movie is about infertility in women. This allows for a far more cinematically poignant focus of the story — transporting a woman 8 months pregnant amidst relentless hostilities. Is there anything more seemingly fragile, and worth protection and support, then a woman so close to giving birth?

The viewer is limited to Theo’s experience in every scene in the entire movie, except one. When Jasper kills his wife before the Fishes come. From a story point of view, it’s unnecessary — we find out about the death immediately after, when Theo overhears the Fishes interrogating Jasper. Clearly, this is a deliberate choice, and, I think, and interesting one.

In the movie, no one uses cell phones. In fact, I don’t think we see anyone talk on a phone, ever.

  1. I really enjoyed the movie, a truly soul-stirring sci-fi movie. It uses the power of sci-fi to displace us from ourselves, and give that distance to allow reflection on our own current state. Comparisons to Blade Runner have been drawn, with the dystopian atmosphere being the most obvious connection, and as you nicely recount with mythical/religious overtones. But what I also liked about Children of Men was how fully realized it is – it’s a real 360 degree realization of a world.

    On that last battle scene I was struck (literally and figuratively) by the sound of the gunfire. It has a real crack and shock to it that is lacking in most movies, which round it off too much. The last gunfight in Miami Vice had the same effect.

    I loved the crude Bondo modification of the Citroen Familiale station wagon – that car was a big influence on me when I was a youngster budding car designer.

    One point that maybe doesn’t come across in the US – Theo wears a sweatshirt for the 2012 London Olympics. The awarding of the Olympics to London capped a huge swell of preparation and, I think, enthusiasm and hope for England’s resurgence as a cultural force. The next day the bombings on the London Underground turned the mood sour again. The sweathshirt alludes to this duality, and takes a glass half empty view of whether hope or fear will prevail.

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