Children of Men
Directed by Alfonso Cuarón
Written by Alfonso Cuarón, Timothy J. Sexton, David Arata, Mark Fergus and Hawk Ostby based on the novel by P.D. James
I have been dreading watching this movie again, because I was severely traumatised by it the only other time I saw it. I went to see it at the movies, I think at the Reading cinemas in Wellington. I’ve avoided this ever since. After I saw it last time I had to watch Kiki’s Delivery service to cheer up afterwards. Hopefully watching it again, knowing what will happen and being able to expect it as it comes will soften the blow.
It seems very topical to watch this right after the Brexit referendum was passed, which could conceivably lead to the zero tolerance for immigrants closed borders situation displayed in this film.
It’s incredibly disturbing to see the proliferation of people in cages all over the streets of London. The whole premise of the apocalypse is pretty compelling though – the impact of no longer being able to reproduce and the panic that creates. This is supported with the complete and thoughtful set dressing and disturbing adverts like that for the Quietus suicide kit which we learn is being given out with food rations.
It’s brilliantly filmed. No one’s denying that. I can accept that the shoot out sequence is astounding. But the story hurts me too much. The sequence with the bus going into the refugee camp and Miriam being taken is one of the most upsetting to me. This movie was made shortly after the photos being released from Guantanamo Bay went through the media. What is happening outside the bus is directly lifted from those photos. It makes me feel so sick to see it, knowing that yeah: this movie is a horror story of a dark future, but a bunch of things depicted in it are already happened or have already. That’s disquieting.
Does it make me love the people? The characters are certainly compelling. The reason this movie is so upsetting to me is how quickly they make me care about the characters. One of the most heartbreaking sequences to me is Jasper giving Janet the quietus as Goodbye Ruby Tuesday plays. The brutality of Jasper’s murder as he makes a joke, watched from afar by Theo is a horrible follow up.
Bechdel test: Kee (number one most stupidly obviously named character of the century right there) and Miriam are together through most of the movie, but it’s astonishing how often they talk via a male character. Jasper, Theo or whoever else happens to be there. However when Kee starts to have contractions they definitely talk directly to each other. So, yes, but not as often as it should/could have been. Matrihka also speaks to Kee, but in a language she can’t understand so… not sure about that one.
I love the graffiti “Last one to die please turn off the light.”
Kee: nobody ever told me these things, I’d never seen a pregnant woman before. But I knew. I felt like a freak. I didn’t tell nobody. I thought about the Quietus thing. It’s supposed to be suave, pretty music and all that. Then the baby kicked. I feel it. Little bastard was alive and I feel it and me too. I am alive. Frolly.
K: that’s what I’ll call it.
T: It’s the first baby in 18 years. You can’t call it Frolly.
The classroom sequence is what really stayed with after the last time I saw this. Miriam explaining how she suddenly noticed miscarriages happening and the blank month in her schedule. It’s such an eloquent way of showing the human reaction of the creeping horror of realising something’s wrong. This weird way to realise that things in the world are changing in a fundamental way…
Miriam: As the sound of the playgrounds faded, the despair set in. Very odd, what happens in a world without children’s voices.
State of Mind: I can accept that the shoot out sequence is astounding. I ugly cried when everyone stopped firing and watched in reverance as Kee, Theo and the baby go past. But the fact of the matter is that the movie is way too bleak for me. I’m an optimist, and this film is relentlessly negative. It introduces you to people you think the characters can trust, and then they betray them, over and over and over. It’s too sad. And more, the bleakness of the world and the realism of the violence which makes it feel more like a documentary of things really plausible in the world now. I don’t like it.