By Chris Pace
“Children of Men”
Off the heels of his Oscar win for Best Director, Alfonso Cuaron can finally be taken seriously as a filmmaker. He has directed only five full-length films in the past sixteen years, but his unforgettable style has made its mark on audiences and critics.
Cuaron’s 2006 film “Children of Men” has left its mark on futuristic films of post-apocalyptic worlds. Unlike the Star Wars saga or “War of the Worlds” (2005), “Children of Men” has a more realistic view of the future. It is adapted from P.D. James’ 1992 novel of the same title.
The film takes place in England in 2027. England is the last of the super powers with a functioning government and is home to main character Theo (Clive Owen). Theo is a chain-smoking, alcoholic who has little interest in the life surrounding him. The film begins with Theo ordering a coffee, which he proceeds to top off with scotch, and building explodes in front of his eyes.
Later in the film, you find out that Theo was once married to Julian (Julianne Moore), who is now the leading power of a terrorist group. The two had a child together, but a worldwide epidemic began wiping out the infant population. In the dystopia, in a matter of years, men lose all ability to produce sperm and women become completely unable to bear children. Julian’s group kidnaps Theo in an attempt to use his government connections to fill out paperwork to allow a pregnant woman out of England.
In one scene, Theo is traveling with Julian when a band of revolutionaries jumps their vehicle. The scene is four minutes long and is one continuous shot. This is one of Alfonso Cuaron’s trademarks in his films. This is incredibly difficult because if there is one mistake, the scene needs to restart filming again; completely. From the beginning.
Theo finally meets a young woman named Kee who, shortly after their acquaintance, vocalizes that she is pregnant. Theo knows the severity of the situation. Realizing that he has met the first pregnant woman in the world within the past thirty years, he takes on the role of her protector.
They travel far to reach a boat able to take them to a safe area where she can receive proper care. They make friends and enemies on their journey to safety, but Theo never abandons the idea that Kee and her baby are his responsibility.
Although Cuaron won the Oscar for Best Director for “Gravity” (2013), this film needs the recognition it thoroughly deserves. “Children of Men” is more artistically, creatively and aesthetically pleasing than “Gravity”. Both are great films, but “Children of Men” is much closer to reality. It is unlike any other science-fiction film.
Theo is a relatable character, located in a not-so-distant future. He risks his own life for the sake of humanity. It is a beautiful story in a crumbling world. The film plays as a testament to humanity: even when things go awry, there will always be reasonable people willing to do extraordinary things.