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Children of Men

MovieMeditation presents...
total movie count ........... current day count
139 .......................... 129


May 6th

—— 2006 ——
Children of Men
—— sci-fi ——

"Everything is a mythical, cosmic battle
between faith and chance..."

The film starts out like a distinctive dystopian doomsday presentation, which is frequently used in various other futuristic films or genre-orientated concepts that revolves around the end of the world, as we know it. So despite eventually developing into something undeniably unique, the opening is your typical universal introduction to a global chaos phenomenon, where the importance of showing the social situation is placed high on the cinematic checklist… The great thing about this though, is that the film merely needs to scratch the very surface of its runtime, and yet still succeed in presenting an appropriate and detailed view directly into a world, which has been gradually collapsing for several years prior to this. The basic story illustrates a world, where the human race has suddenly become unable to have children, which therefore leaves the entire world stuck in a massive limbo, awaiting the inescapable death of every last person on earth.

What this creates is essentially a world lost of all hope and faith in the future existence of a better living - or simply any form of living – wherein the only hope they have got right now, is placed upon something that isn’t much more than a pathetic thought or a false comfort. Referring here, of course, to the blown-up scenario of the sudden death of Baby Diego, the youngest person on the entire planet. But in a world with no hope in sight, a little bit of optimism is really all that is needed to shine some light in the darkest of days. Showing the entire world in a state of emotional shock, because of their very last hopeful thought has died together with Baby Diego, this truly demonstrates exactly how little was needed to affect the entire population, and to this degree as well. Diego was never able to carry on the human legacy by himself anyways, but with hope in short supply you will do anything to hold on to just the slightest resemblance of hope – and not until that hope has died out will you ever give up believing and praying for a better tomorrow, though there is always a chance that a miracle might some day happen… This setup further helps the story to realistically set up the “sensational pregnancy” later in the film, where a woman has miraculously become pregnant, and could possibly be the long awaited answer to the future of mankind...

But of course this film is not only about showing whether or not there is or isn’t any hope present in the story, it is also one of the greatest dystopian depictions of a gritty and filthy future ever made in cinema. The amount of detail is spectacular and the realistic approach is a frighteningly accurate expansion of today’s society. We are shown everything from the paranoid and desperate living of human beings, the state of immigration and emigration alike, the rise of rebels and local religious and political wars, the government’s suspicious involvement in various legal and illegal activities, as well as their desperate, drastic and lethal measures to keep a sinking world afloat…. No wonder people are losing their minds. But of course, all this can shine ever so brightly in the script or in the novel that it is based upon, without ever reaching a visual presentation in respect of the source material. Thankfully, the combination of a brilliant and creative director and a masterful and ideal cinematographer, this is a match made in heaven of a world created in hell. The raw and gritty atmosphere is intensely presented using several long-takes and an impressive hand-held stylistic approach. Emmanuel Lubezki's work as director of photography is always gorgeous eye candy, especially his flair for lighting a scene; in particular his expert use of the sun, both as a natural source of light and as a direct focal point for the frame… However you may put it, the visuals are definitely a key element to this film, whether it is purely as a striking feast for the eyes or as a representational extension of the storyline and its further development towards a climax.

In order to create a nicely rounded conclusion to this review, I might as well cast a quick point of view on a previous discussion, concerning whether or not the ending of this film was hopelessly inevitable, and if that in any way ruin or contradict with the film and its story… First off, it is obvious that whatever you opinion of the ending might be, it is totally acceptable to have such opinion – negative or positive. Second, I do indeed think that the ending to some extent is hopeless, but it doesn’t at all goes against what the film has been saying for basically its entire runtime. It may feel completely hopeless to us, but to them every bit of hope counts. Ever since its opening shots of a destructive downfall for society, and more importantly, since the death of the youngest person alive on earth, the world has been feeling pretty much doomed, with the human race hopelessly left to slowly go into its ultimate extinction. At least that is how every single human on earth thinks at that point – except for those few still believing. ‘Children of Men’ is kind of bittersweet in a way, because the future of the human race is indeed rather hopeless, but in a world with no hope in sight, a little miracle like that of a newborn is all they need to ignite it.

It may all be hopeless to us, but the birth of the baby acts more like a symbol of hope for people who haven't seen the shadow of it in a long time... The film is supposed to illustrate a world falling apart – in fact it has already done so many years ago – and then this miracle comes along and lights up the very soul of everyone around; even though this was a miracle too late, and the main characters are pretty much on a journey into uncertainty. Furthermore, all this also shows the common and current state of people's minds, and where they are in time, because to them, every little light is a shining hope in this dark and sinister world. It shows what they are essentially willing to do, and where they are willing to go because of it.

In the end though, I think it cinematically succeeds in delivering something I personally think is both powerful and thought provoking. The ending itself may be a little depressing in some ways, but you could say that it symbolizes hope present in a hopeless world. So however you may view the film and ending, you might see yourself resigning with one side or the other. So in a very simplified explanation, this film can be both hopeful and hopeless – it depends on how you define hope and whom you eventually assign it to…