Posted November 7, 2018 by Chris Hick in Film Reviews

Children of Men (2006) Blu-ray Review

As grim dystopian future films go, Children of Men (2006) is a fairly depressing one that offers little in the way of hope for the future, until the final shot that is. This future is devoid of any of the normal special-effects one would expect from a science-fiction film, with only hints of futuristic technology. Set in 2027 in a Great Britain that is in a post-apocalyptic state of civil unrest and violence. It stars Clive Owen as Theo Faron, a loner, bureaucrat and former activist. For some unknown reason for the past 18 years women have been infertile and society has broken down. As a news report informs us, Britain is a last bastion and is becoming inundated by refugees from Europe and elsewhere as society is in a worse state in other parts of the world. Faron enters a cafe in London where everyone is transfixed to the TV reporting that the world’s youngest person, an 18-year-old has been killed and announce who the new youngest person is. Faron is picked up by his ex-wife, Julian (Julianne Moore), a member of the terrorist ‘Fishes’ organisation. She and her other half a dozen members try to persuade him to help them escort a refugee, Kee (Clare-Hope Ashitey) to safety at an offshore vessel.

It’s not long before Faron is convinced through a financial reward to help organise transit papers and escort Kee to safety through his connections with a government official(in a wonderful cameo by Danny Huston) who lives in a luxury penthouse apartment in Battersea Power Station. He discovers that this young vulnerable black women is pregnant and about to have a baby and therefore understands why he must transport this woman to safety and make their way through a dangerous Britain with violence and human maltreatment everywhere.

As critic Philip Kemp says on his analysis on the film on an extra, Children of Men has aged very well. It is true that often science-fiction films tell us more about the time they are made than the time they are supposed to be set. Instead Oscar winning Mexican director Alfonso Cuaron gives us very little of what the future might be, probably because there is no future in this bleak impression. The London it is filmed in is not altogether unfamiliar, but is nevertheless a rather bleak urban setting with litter, grim faces, grey tones and just the hint of a future through digital signage and slightly futuristic GPS equipment. There are protests on the streets, armed riot police and cages of refugees everywhere. Now seen more than 10 years after its original release the film seems more disquieting and prescient for that vision, given the uncertain and anxious times we live in with Brexit uncertainties, a refugee crisis and the angst all these issues create with such talk of civil unrest if Brexit doesn’t happen.

Released by Arrow Academy, this film has taken many years to grow. It did not do well at the cinema on its release, although at the time was critically claimed and, as already suggested, is a film that has grown in reputation and importance. It is aided in no small part by the cast. Owen wanders through the land and cityscapes (wearing an almost comic book flowing coat), almost oblivious to the destruction and violence around him until it personally affects him, as though he has become conditioned to his surroundings. The rest of the cast too are superb, including cameo roles for Moore as Faron’s ex-wife who is killed off in a particularly effective scene, Michael Caine as Faron’s hippy escapist friend and Huston as the bureaucrat.

Based off a novel by P.D. James, Children of Men is an intellectual film that follows a tradition of film adaptations of novels that have intellectual weight that, as Kat Ellinger highlights on an visual essay on the disc, follows in the footsteps of Richard Matheson’s ‘Last Man on Earth’ and even Mary Shelley’s ‘Frankenstein’. In many extras on the disc, this film is given weight with Ellinger’s visual essay piece, the study of the film by Kemp, as well as archived documentaries such as ‘The Possibility of Hope’, a philosophical study of issues that are present in Children of Men that includes studies of modern angst by the likes of such intellectual cynics as Naomi Klein and Slavoj Žižek in how we face such bleak futures in an age of climate change, over population and refugee crises. There are other shorter pieces on the film by Žižek, as well as featurettes on the background to Owen and Moore’s characters and some of the special-effects in the film.

Chris Hick

Chris Hick