Saturday, November 26, 2011
Children of Men
This is one of those movies that comes along and really has an emotional impact on you. I am one of those people who will usually just watch a movie for their entertainment value and sometime I overlook the messages hidden within a movie. Children of Men is a flat out masterpiece, there is no other way to describe it that will do it justice. Alfonso Cuaron is not well known in America but this is one of his finest movies along with Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. He is more of a storyteller then a true director, because while he is a great director, he is also able to get the viewer to actually care about what is taking place on screen and he develops all of the main characters to a great degree. The main supporting roles in the movie belong to Julianne Moore, Michael Caine, and Chiwetel Ejiofor. Each actor bring a raw human element to each of their characters and what I mean by that is that they seem like regular people on screen, you are never distracted by the star power. This is a movie that should be shown in film classes to showcase an almost flawless film.
The movie takes place in the year 2027, which is 18 years after the human race became infertile. The main character, Theo played by Clive Owen, is a low level bureaucrat squeaking by doing the bare minimum in his life. This possible future is a harsh one, taking place in London, that depicts a total breakdown in society outside of England. In England, immigrants are rounded up and put into refugee camps and bombing by "terrorist" groups are commonplace. Theo is contacted by a group that needs his help in getting a certain refugee to the coast of England, he is able to do this because he has several high level connections in the government. Theo soon becomes involved in the groups activities and soon discovers that nothing is truly what it seems within this group. He discovers that the young woman he was escorting to the coast is pregnant and he must do whatever it takes to get this girl to the coat safely. I am going to stop the summary at this point because I am against spoiling the movie for people. Everything I summarized so far you can easily ascertain from the trailer, so I didn't spoil anything.
FROM THIS POINT ON THERE MAY BE SIGNIFICANT SPOILERS.
Theo is an amazingly layered character for a movie of this nature. In the beginning he is very cynical and is resigned to living out a meaningless life until his time eventually runs out and he is either killed or dies of old age. He is largely emotionless and does not care about the event going on around him in the world because for the moist part they have no bearing on his life. Only when his ex-wife, who is the head of a "terrorist" cell, contacts him do we as the viewer see cracks in his armor. Parts of his back story are slowly revealed such as that he had a son who died when he was very young and his wife left him shortly after that. His friend, Jasper played by Michael Caine, seems to be his only family and is his best friend. The only time you see Theo act like a normal person is around Jasper because he feeds of of this man who is just upbeat and defiant to the end. Jasper holds out hope that the world will eventually recover from the last 18 years of infertility, even as hopeless as the situation seems at that point in the movie. Though the course of the narrative, we see this man go from being resigned to dying a pointless life to being willing to sacrifice his life in order to secure the future of humanity. His path in the movie leads him to hope and redemption, and it is a beautiful journey. Whether the character dies at the end of the movie is up to viewer interpretation, but either way his sacrifice is monumental and brings his journey to a close so he can be with his family in the afterlife.
Many modern themes are also intertwined throughout the movie. Subjects like illegal immigration, homeland security, population control, and governmental control are explored to a varying degree throughout the movie. Another theme explored in the movie is the battle for public favor in the battle of perception between the many factions in the movie. The child that is born in the movie would potentially be used by the government to further its own agendas. The Fishes, which is the name of the terrorist cell in the movie, would use it to gain support for their movement. The Human Project which is the unseen faction in the movie would want to study the child and her mother to see how they can fix the infertility problem that has brought the human race tot the brink of extinction. Theo is the Shepard for this girl and has to guide her to the safest choice for both the mother and the child. The Human Project seems like this mythical organization that will eventually save the world and I believe he goes with them because he sees that they still hold out hope and he can relate because he found hope when he saw the pregnant girl.
This is one of the finest movies that I have ever seen and the quality of experience is undeniable. The characters are rich and the narrative is top notch, there are simply no weak links in the movie. The only thing that may bog this movie down in people's minds is if they had read the book the movie is based on and they were unhappy with the alterations to the storyline. Taken as a standalone movie, this is one of the best I have ever had the privilege of seeing. If you do not see this movie then I feel sorry for you. Download it, buy it, stream it, do whatever you need to do to see this movie. This will be one of the only movies that gets a 10/10 from me. It is pretty much the perfect movie in my eyes.