I know you got the movie. But I promise, you didn’t get the movie. And I know that it isn’t because you aren’t smart. You are wicked smart, of course. But let me put it bluntly to you, it’s that you just don’t care enough. Hahah. Seriously. But there were sections of this movie that had tears running down my face. Totally and completely catching me off guard. This thing just clobbered me from left field. I am not sure why I’m only now getting to this movie. But holy cow was it good.
Quick overview for those of you that haven’t seen it and are unconvinced at this goodness of which I speak. Basically the world becomes infertile. This is bad. Right? The human race depends on progeny to continue on it’s legacy. But, the world can’t procreate any more and as a result the world becomes more and more hateful, spiteful towards other nationalities, etc. And in the midst of this chaotic new world, 2027, a group finds a woman that has become pregnant. The leader of this group finds her ex-husband and tells him she needs her help to get this woman to the Humanists. Here, the trailer tells the high level story better than I can:
Children of Men Overview
The main reason I decided to finally sit down and watch Children of Men was because I had just finished season 1 of The Handmaid’s and was desperate for another dystopian of the, “no more babies” variety. Right? And so I had remembered that Children of Men was all about a world with no more children, and a world where one woman gets pregnant. But there’s a lot more to it than just that though. Yes, all the woman on the planet become barren. But they also begin having miscarriages the world round. And on top of that, a Flu epidemic breaks out. And that kills all the children, all simultaneously colliding and hammering the planet for terrible (read dystopian) effects. Or possibly the flu and the barrenness was one and the same. Regardless, the effects were devastating.
The bottom line? The world is screwed unless they can figure out how to jumpstart the births of the planet again.
The Three Main Organizations of Children of Men
The first is the British Government, the last remaining working government on the planet. It is the British Government that is hunting and detaining illegal detainees, or Fugees, as they are apparently called. The second are the Fishes, an insurgent group, determined to fight for the rights of all Fugees locked up throughout the nation. And the final group of note, is the Human Project, an organization that isn’t even confirmed to exist. The Human Project, if it exists, is an organization hunting for the solution to the world’s reproductive problems. But it isn’t until Kee is discovered to be pregnant that all three organizations start on a collision course with one another.
Transit Papers And The Beginning of the Chase
There were a few amazing scenes in this movie. A few really groundbreaking and pivotal moments in film history that this movie drops into our laps as if they were easy as pie to make. The first one was the scene between Theo and his wealthy cousin. Theo goes to meet with his cousin in order to get transit papers for Kee, but we are greeted with art on a scale that is unprecedented.
First, Michelangelo’s David? In your living room? But notice the damaged leg? And what of Picasso’s Guernica that is on the wall of Theo’s wealthy cousin’s dining room?
These are not insignificant details. They tell us a story. That the world as we know it today? It’s collapsed. The Queen Sofia Arts Center in Madrid that normally houses Guernica? Gone. The Accademia Gallery in Florence that normally houses David? Gone. It’s on par with a zombie apocalypse, sans the zombies.
Regardless, Theo gets his transit papers. Only problem? They are transit papers for two and Theo has to tag along. So Theo is now caught up in the this diorama even in spite of his lack of compassion and lack of care for anything other than himself.
Single Greatest Tracking Shot Ever
Which brings us to the single best shot in the movie, and one of the best shots in all of film history. (Sure, we can have an argument about this assertion in the comments, but shhh, I’m talking right now.) And that is the infamous ‘car scene’ tracking shot. I knew about this shot long before I had ever seen the movie. But viewed in context, amongst all the other pageantry, it really is a scene to behold.
Basically there are five people heading out to get Kee, the pregnant woman, out to safety and connected to the Human Project. But as they are going a flaming car drops out from the hillside and barricades them in. And then, out of the hill side coming running hundreds of crazy lunatics intent on killing them all. The shot was so exceptional because the camera is floating in and through the car during conversations, motorcycle stunt crashes, exploding chaos, it is really fantastic. And if you want to watch more about how the shot was accomplished you can do so here.
More importantly, at the end of this amazing sequence, Julian is dead, shot in the neck. And one of the last conversations Julian and Kee had was that she should never trust anyone else but Theo.
Fishes Coup and a Containment Center
That night, the Fishes member settle in a farm before they decide a safe direction they can travel. And its then that Theo learns that Kee is pregnant, which puts the situation on a totally different level for him mentally. Well, that, and Julian is now dead, and it is up to him to carry on her legacy. Especially after Theo overhears that Luke had Julian killed in order to take her spot as the leader of Fishes. Not only that, but that he’s going to use the baby as marketing to bring more Fugees in to join the Fishes. Deciding that he wasn’t digging this at all, Theo gets Kee, and the nurse and they run for it.
Theo then heads to his father’s home and they discuss the possibility of the Human Project being a real thing. Soon though there are people coming onto the property. Theo’s dad sends the trio off, kills his wife, the dog, and then is killed by gunfire. Theo uses a connection from his dad’s and gets them into a Fugee detention center. And it’s from there that they will get a boat and head out to meet the Human Project boat.
Nevermind that this is the moment that the world would explode into an uprising between the Fishes, and the British government, right there in the containment center. Oh, also? Kee goes into labor mid check in to the facility. But two friendly contacts within the Fishes help them get to cover, where the baby is born.
Post Apocalyptic Nativity
Here’s where the movie starts to get extraordinarily interesting. In the middle of the compound all hell breaks loose and Theo and Kee (honestly, can’t remember what happen to the nurse. Shot? Eaten by zombies? Rolled over by a tank? No idea. Pretty much everyone in this movie dies some way or another) deliver the baby. The next morning, the cop that let them into the compound realize that Theo and Kee are probably worth something… and so he comes and gets them. When he sees the baby he really realizes he’s on to something and he takes off with the baby and Kee.
The war outside is amazingly well done. I’d love to know more about how they pulled these scenes off. Just fantastically choreographed and shot. Regardless, Theo chases after Kee as fast as he can. But a tank is busy blowing holes in the building that Kee just took refuge in. Then out of the noise of the war comes the cries of a baby.
And it’s this moment that was so moving for me. We see the entire battle halt and pay homage to the world’s first baby in almost two decades. The awe, the reverence and the peace that descends on the battlefield is really something. And as Theo and Kee leave together everyone is taking a knee in reverence.
A Child Will Bring Peace to the World
It was Julian’s firm belief that a baby would bring peace to the world. Yes? You get where this is going? These are not subtle allusions to the Christ child. The child that the world thought would bring peace to the world. That Wise Men visited, and shepherds came to pay homage to. A child that stopped tanks, and caused men with A-4’s to drop to one knee.
The parallels are so obvious that when Theo first learns of Kee’s pregnancy he asks who the father is, she jokes that it was a virgin birth. It’s obvious. And yet, I’m sure most people missed the power of this parallel. And yet, why did the armies continue fighting if the child was supposed to bring peace to the world? Well, think about it, did the Christ bring peace to the world? Or did we continue on killing everyone we could? Right. We see in a 3 minute span the dichotomy and chaos of this reality here in this movie. And amongst the chaos, Theo (I must say that his name really is an interesting choice of character names) is shot a couple of times. And yet he manages to row Kee (another interesting character name) and the baby out to the buoy, where he dies.
And I have to admit, that after the build up of the entire movie about the Human Project, I was sort of hoping that they would end it ambiguously. Maybe Kee looking off in the distance hoping she saw something? But we see a fishing boat, named Tomorrow no less, pulling up through the mist, cut to credits.
The Meaning of Children of Men
The book isn’t nearly as good as the movie in my opinion. After watching the film, I went back and found a digital copy and read through it over the past couple nights while here in Haiti. Where the movie excels (and all future film makers should take note here) and the book fails is that it shows us what is horrible and evil, and doesn’t preach about it over and over again. The book is just determined to excoriate mankind for its evils and the horrors of society over and over again. The movie just makes it plain by walking us through society.
Man is evil. He is capable of endless levels of horror. (Trust me, just in this past week in Haiti (my first time in this part of the world – though not my last, I’ll be back here in 4 months it would appear, and again within a year – adoptions are apparently extraordinarily difficult. Buy me a beer someday and I’ll tell you all about it.) I’ve seen some really crazy things that man is capable of. Just a couple of blocks from our hotel room a man was beaten senseless for stealing a smart phone from someone, and then he was doused with gas and set alight. The number of rapes in this city per day is measured in the triple digit range. It’s unbelievable what man is capable. But if anyone knows what man is capable it’s the Haitians, just look at their history since Columbus swung by the island back in 1492. Just incredible levels of pain, chaos, and injustice.
So yeah, the baby didn’t solve the pain in the world. But maybe that wasn’t his goal, to institutionalize it, but to free us from our sins? And maybe that was the thing . that we got wrong about him. We thought he’d come and setup shop and dictate our actions to keep man from being so inhumane. But what if he only came to bring salvation? As this little baby came to bring… hope for all mankind, but zero military oversight.
And it is that message that had me so transfixed by this movie. A child has come. A child who’s very existence means salvation. And here we are killing one another with such mindlessness that it is mind blowing. I personally found this movie fairly convicting as a Christian. I definitely look out for myself more than I do for my fellow man. I think about others last. And this caused me to open my eyes and rethink what is really important in my life. Did this movie do anything for you? I’d love to hear all about it in the comments.