A visionary film that is filled with hope amongst utter bleakness.
This film is screaming for a commentary track by Alfonso Cuaron.
It is 2027 and the human race is on the verge of extinction in director Alfonso Cuaron's Children of Men. No children have been born for 18 years. Theo (Clive Owen) is contacted by his ex girlfriend Julian (Julianne Moore) because she has found a woman named Kee (Claire-Hope Ashitey) who has managed to become pregnant. She asks Theo to help this woman get escorted out of London to a place in the middle of the ocean called The Human Project. The hope is that the scientists there will be able to help save the human race. So now, in a Police state, Theo must travel with this woman and keep her condition a secret. What transpires is a road trip movie set against a very dystopian backdrop.
Regardless of how you feel politically, there are many ways to read this movie. I am sure that some people see Children of Men as a bleak look at the direction that some people think our country is headed. I am sure that there are others who see this film as an uplifting tale of faith and belief in humanity. However you feel, what makes this movie work is the fact that it does inspire thought and conversation.
What if the world were really like this? Is a place like London in Children of Men even possible? Does it already exist in some ways? What are the ramifications of living in this world?
All of these questions were ideas I had percolating in my head while screening this film. Children of Men, love it or hate, certainly provides a great deal for any moviewatcher to think about.
The Possibility of Hope
This is a pretty interesting featurette for two reasons. First of all, it's subject matter is the idea of how the themes in this movie relate to the present day. The second reason is this bold idea that that's what this movie could be doing. When you make a featurette like this you run the risk of seeming pompous or overly proud of your accomplishment. This film looks at the ideas of how our world is run, the effects (whether they are meant or not meant to happen) of capitalism, immigration, etc.. It would be easy to see this movie as pointing out a world that could never exist. The reality is that we're all up against a machine that we either fight, we ignore or we become a part of. What is interesting is seeing a movie that does it's best to do all of that on it's own terms.
Children of Men Comments by Slavoj Zizek
Aside from lavishing an immense amount of praise on Alfonso Cuaron, Slavoj Zizek, the philosopher on hand here, discusses the social context of this movie. While Cuaron isn't on this featurette to discuss whether or not what Zizek is saying is true, the reality of it seems to be that if the director disagreed with him this section most likely wouldn't be on this DVD (or it would feature someone else). While quite similar in subject matter to The Possibility of Hope, you only need to view this if you are an immense fan of this movie. Zizek brings up the themes he found in the narrative, he discourses on them for a bit, and then he talks about how brilliant it was for Cuaron to do what he did in this film. After awhile, it all gets a little hard to take.
Theo & Julian
Clive Owen and Julianne Moore are featured here talking about Children of Men. They remark on their characters, the subject matter of the film, working with Alfonso Cuaron, why they wanted to do this movie, etc.. There isn't anything that special here as you can probably imagine, but I would certainly suggest watching this if you like these actors and you liked this movie. I guess I find myself jaded when I hear actors talk about certain political issues just because, for me, part of their mystique is not knowing too much about them. Unfortunately, these featurettes seem to shatter all that.
The final featurette on this disc looks at the vision behind this film. It explains why London looks how it does in this film, however it doesn't really go much deeper into the history of it all. I think why this film has been so loved by certain viewers is because it speaks to issues like Global Warming, capitalism, the class system, etc.. Alfonso Cuaron has made every effort to have this movie represent those ideas and their byproducts. He clearly has his ideas of where he thinks this world is going, but I didn't find that this movie (or this featurette) forced them down your throat. If anything, this movie simply presents ideas that are anything but simple.
Anamorphic Widescreen - 1.85:1. The most amazing thing about this movie, from a cinematic standpoint, is that it seems like they have filmed this in another world entirely. This doesn't look like it was created on a set at all. From a technical standpoint, on DVD this films drab look really carried over well. I never found that any of the images were too dark or overcompressed. In fact, this film had a very sluggish feel about when it began but I think that was to ease you into this world. To make you almost like a drone the society it was depicting. Then, as the story gets moving we see more and more colors added to the images on screen.
Languages: English, Spanish, French Dolby Digital 5.1. Subtitled in English, Spanish and French. Watching this movie I realized I probably should get a better system if I am going to review these kinds of DVDs. Everything about the digital versatile disc format has gotten better. It has reached a point where even standard DVDs are equipped with really great audio. On my system everything sounded very solid, but I think with my one speaking set-up, I was experiencing less than 50% of it.
The front cover of this movie shows us Clive Owen hiding behind a wall. Sadly, unless you are familiar with this movie, I don't think this image really stands out too much. The back cover features some shots from this film, a Special Features listing, a credits listing, and technical specs. As this is only Standard DVD they haven't given the packaging too many bells and whistles. Something tells me we'll see that improve on subsequent releases.
I feel bad about liking this movie because I had no desire to see Children of Men when it came out theatrically. I didn't think that it looked good and I thought I knew everything about it from the trailer. I'd also heard from a lot of people that they didn't like this movie. So I went into to my DVD screening of Children of Men with a little bit of trepidation. At first, I was in agreement that they really didn't give you much backstory on how London got to be how it is in the film. I thought that perhaps this was just another slam job on the US, which I didn't really mind (hey, cinema is expression and I don't always have to agree with it, right?), but with a run time of almost two hours I was thinking this could be a long DVD session.
Then I got into this movie, the story, the ideas and most importantly the characters. I don't know how I will feel about this movie in five or ten years, but right now I really enjoyed what it was putting across. I say that because this movie feels evergreen. It has the kind of subject matter that is haunting. It stays with you after the film has ended. Due to our geopolitical situation it registers a certain way. In fifteen years, when things are different (at least I hope they are), I am sure that rewatching this movie is going to be a completely different experience.
That, if for no other reason, is why Children of Men is such a good film.
Children of Men was released September 22, 2006.