The children of men

Review by Mattia Nicoletti

Sunday 3 September 2006

2027. In a not too distant future, in which the world can no longer procreate, England remains the only free zone, in order not to face urban guerrillas. Theo (Clive Owen), kidnapped by Julian (Julanne Moore), a formerly loved activist woman, has a great responsibility. He will have to lead a young woman safely to a sanctuary by the sea, and give the world a chance to avoid extinction.
Along the lines of the utopian and futuristic writers, PDJames wrote the novel from which the film is based, in which Cuaròn from the very first sequences illustrates a gray, oppressive, colorless world, between the pre-industrial of the “industrial revolution”), and the post-atomic one, (due to the scarcity of vegetation). London appears unchanged, except for the street side markets and double-decker buses completely peeling from time. The protagonists move in this depthless environment. The stereotypes of multiracialism and multilingualism confirm this (what will be is not necessarily different from what it is today). In the panorama thus defined, the camera follows Theo-Clive Owen in all situations, like a war correspondent in an almost documentary-subjective vision of the future to sharpen the sense of enclosure, claustrophobia, and lack of certainty. An example is the guerrilla who, outside the free zone, appears as a cross-section of the Yugoslav conflict, where everyone shoots at everyone, and a stray bullet has the power to change future personnel (the sequence of tanks hitting a building , it’s an impressive war scene). By contrast, life expectancy, the rebirth of a “new world”, is the film’s only opening to optimism, in a path in the dark, where chance reigns over everyone’s lives.
Children of Men it is a choral film, it is of humanity (it is rarely proposed as a single, for example in the case of the scientist Justice, Michael Caine, a hermit by choice on the edge of society), because the future of the earth does not belong to the single individual. It is simply global.

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From the novel (1993) by PD James, written by the director with Timoty J. Sexton and David Arata, Mark Fergus, Hawk Ostby. In 2027 the Earth is a planet without hope: for almost twenty years no more children have been born and everywhere misery, hunger, despair reign. The story – set in a totalitarian England where thousands of refugees continue to land, hunted down and locked up like beasts – is headed by an anti-hero, the cynical and resigned Theo, a former militant dissident, who has the risky task of accompanying a young African girl, miraculously pregnant, from London to the coast, from which she will reach a protected site in the Azores. Catastrophism with a glimmer of hope. It can be found unrealistic rather than ambitious, redundant in its hyperrealism, but it is a chase film that, however, in the last 40 minutes, conducted at a frenetic pace (shoulder camera by George Richmond, photography by Emmanuel Lubezki), takes, involves , fascinates. Excellent scenographic apparatus. Owen is a fit protagonist in a company of good actors including Caine, an old hippy marijuana grower. The song “Ruby Tuesday” is sung by Franco Battiato. In competition in Venice 2006.

The children of men