“Children of Men”

by Natalie P.

March 25, 2007 | Filed Under Movie Reviews | 4 Comments

Page 4… 

But back to “Children of Men”…  Things I liked about this movie, and in particular about the DVD:

  • Unlike traditional hollywood fare, they don’t spell everything out for you or beat you over the head with the obvious. You are left to figure it out for yourself through the imagery in the background, and the actions of the characters. Even the ending isn’t some pat denouement “wrapped up with a bow”.  It leaves many unanswered questions. 
  • The cinematography and technical direction was excellent, as was the acting.  While it was “yet another dystopian future” movie on the one hand, I didn’t feel like it stole from, or was a repeat of anything else I had seen.  I was particularly impressed by the 12 minute “single shot” scene in the car when they run into terrorists as they are travelling down a road through the woods. The DVD extras show how it was done.
  • Michael Caine as Theo’s hippie friend, Jasper, who lives in a hidden cottage in the country and grows incredibly potent cannabis.  I loved his “zen” music. “Here. Pull my finger.”
  • The “extras” on the DVD are the most thought-provoking I have seen in a long while.   In particular “The Possibility Of Hope” – a mini documentary on how the themes in Children of Men relate to modern day society and our possible future, was a real bonus and well worth viewing. 

Scene from Children of MenThe movie is filled with many disturbing scenes – from the immigrants in cages on the roadsides, to the propaganda messages running on the busses, to the burning animal carcasses in the fields, to the visual assault of video screens everywhere, to the garbage and general decay in the cities. But for me the most moving scene was also the most disturbing – after Kee has her baby in the refugee camp and the army is moving in to quell a rebellion. Kee leaves a building under attack with Theo, and as the army officers hear the baby’s cry, and see her holding it, they call a cease fire. Everyone stops. Everyone stares. She walks down the stairs and out into the street. Some soldiers kneel and cross themselves. Some people reach out to touch her, like she is something holy.  I think it disturbed me because it was a stark reminder of that restrictive box that I so often rail against – the one that says that women are either goddesses or whores; but there is no option to simply be human.  In a world where women are seen as vessels, they cease to be seen as human.  

In some way, I see Kee’s predicament in the movie as a metaphor for every woman who is pregnant today.  Everyone seems to have their own agenda for a pregnant woman:  If she wants to terminate the pregnancy, there are people who seem to think it is their right to interfere. If she wants to carry to term, there are all kinds of people who feel it is their right to tell her how to live, what to eat, what to do, what not to do.   Right or wrong, a pregnant woman is often subjected to a myriad of agendas that are not her own.

If our world devolved to the point where very few women could conceive, we would see a horrible erosion in women’s rights as people set about trying to control conception and reproduction. In light of global warming, decreasing fertility rates, increasing xenophobia and globalization, I have to wonder, is “Children of Men” a warning signpost on the road? More importantly, have we already driven past it?

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4 comments so far
  1. K March 26, 2007 11:16 am

    I also enjoyed this movie even I didn’t think I would on the grounds that I was expecting it to be about how the evil wimmen folk forgetting their place caused the downfall of humanity and was pleased to find in some ways it was almost the opposite. I think you’re right about the fact that if it were female infertility that were the cause women would certainly more restricted, probably to the point where the CDC report would actually be enforced in law.
    As a Brit, I certainly found the immgration theme something I could seriously see happening here as the anti-immgration fever that a large portion our press regularly whips up out of all proportion seems to be driving home office policies on those seeking refugee status (legal or not) here. I think the illegal immigrant status of Kee is implied because very often we forget that they are people too, just like people forget that women are.
    Finally though it should be noted that one swallow does not make a spring.

  2. Alka March 29, 2007 8:07 pm

    A different perspective – the movie was disappointing.
    Too much irrelevant violence, Christian scripture of the ‘Virgin Mary’ who here happens to be a black girl who on occasion says “fuck, shit, and/or this asshole”. A masculine hero who sometimes fills the role of Joseph and at other times Jesus the martyr (i don’t know if i liked either of the variations). No breastfeeding…but we all know that breasts are really for men’s pleasure rather than feeding a baby… and alright, i suppose i could have overlooked, but the sheer human stupidity and shallowness (of the director) that repeatedly played out was just overwhelming. No thought by the author (maybe), director, or anyone else about how we come to know what we know and how wrong what we’ve come to know is ‘accepted uncritically’…. myth is everywhere but some myth is likely to do every day harm (like the way we understand food – food is every day). Good example: the woman gave birth laying down. She might as well have placed her feet in stirrups and served the almighty ‘doctor’ (or an inexperienced man in this case). A medicalized birth, a false idea of how a woman should give birth. You would think that by the time we get to the point of infertility, we’d be more inclined to be informed about the natural and universal ways in which women give birth. In truth, the optimal position for birth is squatting, and women have been giving birth in this way since we gave birth. Still practiced across most of the world except in institutionalized birth practices of the west. Yes, most of us are detached from the humane in human. Some women chose a c-section, or not to breastfeed; some men like shallow movies filled with action and violence only to confirm and reaffirm myths about masculinity. Both stripped of self-respect, dignity, humanity. A lot of people don’t seem to mind. Granted, the idea is great, but the reality still conforms to stereotypical notions of what is and what should be. Inaccuracies abound.

  3. Natalie P. March 30, 2007 12:36 am

    Alka, Alka, Alka, you are missing the point here – it’s portraying a DYStopian future. Not Utopian.   The not too-distant future is rife with stereotypes. Just like today. Quelle surprise.

    Hmmm… sometimes I like shallow movies filled with action and violence. I suppose Alka would suggest (from atop the soapbox) that is because I want confirm and reaffirm myths about masculinity? *snort*

    Sounds like intellectual wanking to me.

    I don’t know what movie YOU were watching, but I saw plenty in the movie that points to people accepting uncritically what we know to be wrong (that’s what gives it so much of its impact) – it just doesn’t sit there overtly sermonizing and moralizing about it.

    And as for “natural and universal ways” that women give birth and the movie being somehow biased or inaccurate because it shows Kee laying down, and OBVIOUSLY by that point people should, like, just KNOW that squatting is the right and proper way… except for that little fact that nobody has given birth for 18 years. Under those circumstances, I would find it highly unrealistic that there would be much knowledge at ALL about giving birth or breastfeeding for that matter.

    And speaking from personal experience, having popped two screaming tykes into this world, I can tell you that the LAST thing I would want to do is give birth on my feet squatting – and I *was* given the option. I’d have passed out. Not to mention the risk of tearing if there isn’t someone there to seriously slow the birth. The last thing I would want is my kid shooting out with the cord wrapped around his neck, using gravity to rip the placenta along the way…

    What Alka’s “different perspective” reaffirms is that everybody and their dog has an agenda about how women should behave and what they should be doing – whether pregnant, or giving birth, or rearing children. It doesn’t mean that those agendas are valid, nor does it mean that they make any sense in the context of another person’s film.

  4. Chris B. November 19, 2008 9:51 pm

    Why did they decide to make the change from male infertility to female infertility? I assumed it was because male infertility is easier to get around, and would have been less apocalyptic, especially after the developments in reproductive technology since the book was written. Let’s face it, men are more disposable when it comes to reproduction. If every man on earth suddenly became completely infertile, there are still millions of sperm samples on ice which could be good for decades, and it might not take too long to develop viable human cloning techniques under such dire circumstances. So reproduction could continue on some level. But if every woman on earth suddenly became completely infertile . . . we’re screwed. That’s what makes the movie apocalyptic.


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