As I noted a few weeks ago, when it comes to politics I tend to keep my big fat mouth shut. I’m not going to change my current habit. Instead, over the next eight weeks or so, in line with my previous posts about Great Movies You’ve Probably Never Seen (Volumes I, II and III), I’ll feature a few outstanding movies many haven’t seen that everyone should encounter. These films also have eye-opening parallels to our current season.
The first is the groundbreaking masterpiece, Children Of Men.
Released at Christmas in 2006, Children Of Men is a dazzling thriller loosely based on a novel by the great P. D. James. James’ idea was a not too distant future where humankind has gone infertile. The movie takes place in 2027, 18 years after the birth of the last baby, Diego Ricardo. Opening with the death of Diego, which causes worldwide grief, Children of Men thrusts us into a dystopian society that is immediately unsettling given how similar much of this crumbling civilization is to our current world. Britain, where the movie takes place, is the only stable government remaining in the world though it too seems on the verge of collapse. The movie explores what happens when the first woman in 18 years becomes pregnant.
While extremely relevant and compelling in 2006, what is most stunning about Children of Men is how shockingly prescient it is. Ten years later the movie is even more timely, even more relevant. Watching it today I think “How could they have known?” Humankind isn’t infertile, of course. But almost everything else depicted in the movie is becoming reality at a rapid pace.
Children of Men is remarkable cinematically. The director, Alfonso Cuaron, does things with the camera that is unmatched by his peers. From the incredible visuals that subtly comment on the themes, to the long single takes that thrust the audience into the action in an intensely visceral manner, the movie elevated the art of cinema. It’s worth seeing for the cinema language alone. Yet the movie is deep on thematic and emotional levels as well.
It also contains outstanding performances from every actor including Julianne Moore, Michael Caine, Clare-Hope Ashley, Pam Ferris and Clive Owen in one of his best performances as Theo, an emotionally devastated man in a death spiral who is reawakened by the miracle of new life.
As incredible as is Children of Men, it did not do well when first released. It was a difficult film to market. Christmastime was probably not the best season to release a movie that wrestles with such dark themes. Please don’t let that put you off, however. The movie also wrestles with, and embraces, faith, hope and redemption. I’m not going to say this is a Disney feel good family film, (um, no) but I do find it ultimately very uplifting, though in an appropriately somber manner.
So I encourage you: watch Children of Men!
If you’ve never seen it, you might be surprised how much a ten year old movie has to say about everything going on in the world today. And it certainly works as a gripping thriller. If you have seen it but it has been a while, trust me, Children Of Men is worth a re-watch. Like all great art, this is a movie that can change your perspective on our world.
Have you seen the movie? We’d love to know what you think. Let us know in the comments below!