Very odd, what happens in a world without children’s voices

(originally posted on 3rd December 2008 on Bobbin’s Movie Night)

Breaking News: Conjoined Twin Dies After Surgery – BBC News

So much media attention has surrounded the birth of these two children part of me expects a TV crew to record a small troupe of Wise Men trundling through the hospital reception following a glowing orb to the maternity suite and the SCBU.

With so many people willing little Hope and Faith to just keep on living, it makes it even more poignant that Faith will now never know her sister, and as a nation we collectively mourn a baby who we have never met, and now will never see grow.

When a single child can so capture the hearts of a nation, for me it is almost impossible not to think of one of my favourite films of recent years, the deliciously dystopian Children of Men – where a single squalling infant gives hope to a dying world.


Children of Men (2006)
Starring: Clive Owen, Michael Caine, Julianne Moore
Director: Alfonso Cuaron
Running time: 109 mins
Genre: Sci-Fi Thriller

The concept sounds rather odd. A sci – fi – come – war – film – come – political – thriller directed by the guy responsible for the third Harry Potter film. Doesn’t sound all that hopeful does it? But actually Children of Men is one of the best film I’ve seen for years. Set in London in the year 2027 it’s the film’s realism that makes it truly harrowing to watch. It could be our future.

An infertility crisis has caused the nations of the world to collapse, and it is only Britain that is managing to soldier on through the chaos – according to the official propaganda at least.

Innocence is long dead. No children have been born for over 18 years, so humanity is left without a future and without very little cause hope. The world has descended into paranoia and depression. A rebel outfit of guerilla refugees (or ‘fugees’) known as The Fish loom threateningly in the background and the Department of Homeland Security have been ordered to arrest all illegal immigrants, cage them and propel them to the fortified compound of Bexhill-on-Sea. Never has the familiar name of a Kentish seaside town sounded so sinister.

This is a film that could have easily become ridiculous, but in the hands of Director and writer Alfonso Cuaron it is superb – not just theatrically (the action is completely credible and the script is tight) but also technically. His attention to detail really makes this film – we are not presented with some sterilised white PVC future, we see London as it really could be in 19 years time. The London buses are still red and shabby, the back-streets are grungy and covered in graffiti, take-away coffee still comes in card cups, but also we have Identity cards, flat-screen holographic televisions, old 2012 Olympics sweaters and euthanasia pills available direct from the government… but in true british style canabis remains illegal.

Cuaron keeps things moving at a breath-taking pace, filling each shot with so much clever imagery that it is difficult to take it all in. He doesn’t bother with any back-story, the lack of explanation is confusing and disorientating, but Cuaron plunges us straight into the action and the bloody reality of the future, employing only the most required of special effects. This is a story of human survival and individual sacrifice. However, the level of violence and disturbing images that appear in this film, although not frequent, are deeply shocking. The camera work would often not look out of place in a war documentary and some sequences later in the film, are incredibly realistic, adding to the serious themes of the film and building on the tension.

The actors really drive the film, and are perfectly cast in what are difficult roles. It is really refreshing to see that the majority of the cast are British – Clive Owen (Sin City, King Arthur) provides a great performance as the reluctant and jaded central figure of Theodore Faron whilst spending the majority of the film running around barefoot. Michael Caine is excellent as a dope-smoking ex-political cartoonist, and Chiwetel Ejiofor (Kinky Boots, Love Actually), really developed his Serenity style hard man look and is very impressive as an assault rifle wielding rebel.

Cuaron has perfectly adapted P.D. James’ original novel into an outstanding thought provoking film. For some reason this film was not received particularly well by a lot of critics, but personally I can’t stop watching the DVD, and I will do my best to convert anyone who doesn’t think this film is simply superb.

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