Topping the list of apocalyptic films, Alfonso Cuarón’s “Children of Men” depicts a society void of hope and new life.
The film takes place in the futuristic dystopia of 2027, when the world has gone gray. With women turning infertile no children have been born in 18 years and panic has ensued. Every government in the world has fallen, except for Great Britain.
“As the sound of the playgrounds faded, the despair set in,” said Miriam, a character in the film. “Very odd what happens in a world without children’s voices. I was there at the end.”
The story begins with Theo, an average man with no greater thoughts than his daily routine. This, however, changes when a rogue organization reaches out to him to help delivering a woman to safety. This woman is not only pregnant, but also poses as a sign of hope for the future of society.
While many consider the film itself a masterpiece, an interesting yet pivotal motif that Cuarón makes use of is the background. During the events in the film, there is an ongoing refugee crisis, dubbed “The War on Fugees.”
While the film follows Theo, the camera continues to become preoccupied with the refugees. He uses this as a background to help the viewer understand exactly what kind of world this is.
Occasionally, the camera lingers on a shot in order to show us a glimpse of crisis, something that people as a society are coming to understand very well. On one occasion, it goes on to show the death of a son and the grief of the mother. Cuarón uses similar techniques throughout the film to his advantage.
“Here is certainly a world ending not with a bang but a whimper, and the film serves as a cautionary warning,” said Roger Ebert, critic on his website. “The only thing we will have to fear in the future, we learn, is the past itself. Our past. Ourselves.”
With the ongoing Syrian Civil War and the resulting refugee crisis, Cuarón’s work suddenly becomes a gateway for any person to be able to have a genuine glimpse of what it is like to be displaced, unwanted and living in labor camps. Cuarón almost uses his film to help demonstrate the true casualties of war: families.
In a world with no children and no hope, why is the future supposed to matter? Why does it seem that not even a decade after the release of this film, the worlds governments appear to be going down the same xenophobic path that is portrayed in “Children of Men?”
“I love watching this movie because the whole time it’s telling you things won’t work out, but in the end it does,” said Sebastian Roca, junior.
Imagine: this world still has children, yet it is beginning to lose hope for its future. Which is why, as Cuarón so deeply begs in “Children of Men,” hope must never be lost.
Photo courtesy of TribecaFilm.com.