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Children of Men is a 2006 anti-utopian film directed by Alfonso Cuaron and based on the same-named novel. It features stunning cinematography by Emanuel Lubecki. The film depicts a world where all women are infertile, and no children have been born in nearly 20 years. Via the use of symbols and unique film techniques, the film explores politics, religion, culture, the future, and hope. Overall, Children of Men is more of a film about today than about a future world.
Infertility is the film's core theme, as well as its signature emblem. It means the loss of hope for a better future of humanity. The way the person reacts to unusually bad situations is another significant theme of the film. The film shows a dangerous change from the developed civilization back to violence and genocide. Modern politics, lack of natural resources, and possible overpopulation all suggest that the events that happen in the film are technically possible. The film is also a study of the impact ideology has on a human being. The state officials, police and the government in the film represent people affected by nationalist ideology. Theo, Julian and the rest of the Fishes are the activists who stand for different values. Jasper Palmer is a man who could be named the last hippie on Earth. Another ideology shown in the film is a victim of the internet represented by Nigel's son who stays silent while constantly peeping into his phone ("Children Of Men"). The film discovers what happens when different ideologies meet each other in the world. In particular, the film is interested in the impact of political beliefs on human behavior. The theme of immigration in the film is also important for the modern world. The cruelty towards immigrants is shown to be inhumane and irrational. Likely, the creators of the film believe in this message.
The motive that is typical of Cuaron's films and is also present in Children of Men is the contrast between the camera movement that shows important events involving the main characters and scenes in the background. According to Slovak philosopher Slavoj Zizek, "The true meaning of the film is in the background, and it is crucial to leave it in the background (Zizek)." Because of the (Boyle 51). The film shows Britain to be the only country that is still controlled by a central government and has not fallen from terror. The world Cuaron presents painfully similar to the world of today, especially considering the recent rise of the rightist political parties and populism of the recent years. Except for a few futuristic details, the world presented in Children of Men is actually just an exaggerated version of a today's word with its xenophobia, nationalism, and consumerism. The context of the film reflects the War on Terror that was ongoing at that time, just five years after the 2001 World Trade Center attacks. The world of 2016 is not much different, with the war in Syria, the immigration issues, Brexit and the 2016 presidential election in the United States. In the side of the frame, the viewer gets to see everything that surrounds the world that surrounds the character. It is the world where robberies, terroristic acts, and robberies are a common thing. It is also the world where immigrants are treated in an inhuman way.
The unusual use of sound and editing techniques in the film helps it to be different from typical Hollywood films. Children of Men is shot in long takes with almost no cuts. Through these techniques, the director Alfonso Cuaron and the cinematographer Emmanuel Lubecki make a film similar to a documentary more than a feature film. The fact that the film resembles a documentary helps the viewers symphatize with the plot.
For example, the importance of no cuts can be seen in the first scene of the film. When Theo leaves the cafe to pour alcohol in his coffee, it explodes. If the traditional editing technique were used in this scene, the viewers would not feel as if they are present in the scene. However, a single-shot technique used in the scene make the explosion a surprise for the viewers and make them feel that they saw the scene with their eyes. The film feels like a documentary also because the cinematographer carries the camera in his hands and follows in the footsteps of the characters.
The lighting of the film is dark with gray and black colors. This symbolizes that the world lost all of its colors and hopes when children stopped being born. The film almost does not use any music except for the most emotional moments. This also helps the film to be more realistic.
Children of Men is a film with many references to famous artistic works. One of the prominent examples of how the arts used in the film is the connection between Miguel's reference to Michelangelo's La Pieta and a shot that repeats the sculpture. When Theo visits his brother, he says that he tried to save La Pieta and bring it to England. La Pieta is a famous sculpture By Michelangelo that shows the Virgin Mary holding the dead body of her son after he was crucified (Ogrodnik). In one of the scenes, the background depicts a woman holding a dead body of her son, which is the reference to La Pieta and the Bible.
All in all, the Children of Men manages to be a film about hope above everything even though its world is dark. During the ending of the uprising scene where Theo, Kee, and the child walk down the scene ("Children Of Men"). There are many cuts in this scene with close-ups of people faces. The use of cuts in the scene emphasizes the way people react to the baby. The violent men put their guns and tremble from seeing a new life. There is no sound in the scene except for the cry of the baby. This makes the effect stronger because everyone is focused on the child. Anyone who watches the scene is likely to get very emotional because they feel the importance of a new life. In fact, this scene is one of the most emotional in the history of cinema.
The photography of Emmanuel Lubecki is attentive to the background. Because of this, the film is different from others. It does not show the events from the subjective point of view of a character. Instead, it helps the viewer to see the whole picture of the world in which it is set. It is important to see the whole picture of the world to not wake up in the horror similar to this film one day.
Boyle, Kirk. "Children of Men and I Am Legend: The Disaster-Capitalism Complex Hits Hollywood.". Jump Cut: A Review of Contemporary Media, 2009, p. 51._x005FChildren of Men. Dir. Alfonso Cuaron. Perf. Clive Owen, Julianne Moore,
and Michael Caine. Universal Studios, 2006. Netflix. Thur. 16 Mar. 2016.
Ogrodnik, Ben. "Focalisation Realism and Narrative Asymmetry in Alfonso Cuarón'S Children of Men". Senses Of Cinema, 2014, http://sensesofcinema.com/2014/feature-articles/focalization-realism-and-narrative-asymmetry-in-alfonso-cuarons-children-of-men/.
Zizek, Slavoj. Audio Commentary. Children of Men. Dir Kuaron.. Perf. Clive Owen, Julianne Moore, and Michael Caine. Universal Studios, 2006. DVD.
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