Reviewed by: Joel L. Pearce, J.D.
|Featuring:||Julianne Moore, Clive Owen, Michael Caine, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Charlie Hunnam|
|Producer:||Thomas Bliss, Armyan Bernstein, Hilary Shor|
“No children. No future. No hope. The last one to die please turn out the light.”
“Is it not a beautiful piece of cloth?” asked the two swindlers, showing and explaining the magnificent pattern, which, however, did not exist.
“I am not stupid,” said the man. “It is therefore my good appointment for which I am not fit. It is very strange, but I must not let anyone know it;” and he praised the cloth, which he did not see, and expressed his joy at the beautiful colors and the fine pattern. “It is very excellent,” he said to the emperor.
The Emperor’s New Clothes by Hans Christian Andersen (1837)
There are few films that I looked forward to more than this one. It’s difficult not to get excited when the cover art for the movie features an unborn child on its posters, and the trailers for the movie portray a man willing to risk everything to protect that child, even his own life. “Children of Men” had such great promise, but it was not to be.
“Children of Men” s set in London twenty years from now in the year 2027. For unexplained reasons, the rest of the world appears to be under siege, including Seattle, which, we are told in its 1000th day of its siege. We are never told why the world, including Seattle, is in conflict. As the films opens, the film’s director Alfonso Cuarón (Y tu mamá también, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban) pans over some newspaper clippings on the wall about the war in Iraq, as if to suggest a connection between that war (in 2007) and what’s taking place in the world he has created twenty years from now, but the connection fails to materialize. I am sure most people keep twenty-year-old newspaper clippings on their walls and refrigerators.
London, the modern home of video surveillance, is the setting for the film. Sheep apparently have the run of the city as do Shelties, their herders. For unexplained reasons, the world is now barren, and it’s big news when the youngest person in the world dies at 18. Why this is big news, we haven’t a clue. The director wants us to trust him that this is important. Enter Theo (Clive Owen) a man recruited by his former lover Julian (Julianne Moore) to help her deliver some valuable cargo for the “resistance” against the totalitarian authorities. We are never told what the resistance is fighting for against the totalitarian State, or why the State is bad, except that the State has a bad policy of locking up and deporting illegal immigrants. The film maker wants us to know that he thinks that this is a very bad thing.
After Julian is killed, Theo learns that the cargo he is transporting is human cargo, namely a young, unmarried, illegal immigrant with child, and that he must help her get to the “Human Project” which is supposed to be the salvation of the world. Her name us Kee (get it, “Key” as in the key to understanding?) Is “the Human Project” real? How will the unborn child, the “hope that the whole world is waiting for”save the world? Why do we care? None of these questions are answered.
Along the journey to Human Project, Theo (the Greek word for god) battles the bad guys, saves the girl with the unborn child (which turns out to be a girl much to the chagrin of the resistance which is expecting a boy) and finally helps the mother and illegitimate child “escape” to the seas, where Theo dies. She and her baby are presumably picked up by a fishing boat named “Tomorrow,” which she believes to be the Human Project coming to rescue her and her child. Oh, and did I mention that Theo (god?) along the way is wounded in his hands, feet and side before he dies?
Ok. We get it. Theo is the dying god who gives his life to save the future hope of the world. “Tomorrow” represents the Ark coming to rescue the woman (who is kee/key) and her illegitimate child which presumably represent Mary and the baby Jesus. But the politically correct director wants to shake us up, so his “Messiah” is actually an illegitimate girl.
Follow me, so far?
Oh, and what about the shelties and the sheep all over the streets of London? We get that, too. The sheep represent us, humanity, who are constantly being herded by the Shelties, who represent the bad guy government authorities. Gotcha.
The problem is that this film, which is well made from a technical standpoint, just wants to preach at us and propagandize us with its particular worldview. None of our questions are ever answered—none, as if not providing any answers is a virtue. This is why I felt rather empty as the black screen finally closes the film. I felt cheated, as if there was a secret that only the initiated were in on. Consider one reviewer’s comment, “The complete lack of exposition may leave viewers thinking they haven’t understood the entire film, but that’s what makes it great.” Only the initiated are supposed to “get” this film, and some would say that this reviewer doesn’t “get it.”
Listen to the words of Hans Christian Andersen:
“I am ready,” said the emperor. “Does not my suit fit me marvelously?” Then he turned once more to the looking-glass, that people should think he admired his garments.
The chamberlains, who were to carry the train, stretched their hands to the ground as if they lifted up a train, and pretended to hold something in their hands; they did not like people to know that they could not see anything.
The emperor marched in the procession under the beautiful canopy, and all who saw him in the street and out of the windows exclaimed: “Indeed, the emperor’s new suit is incomparable! What a long train he has! How well it fits him!” Nobody wished to let others know he saw nothing, for then he would have been unfit for his office or too stupid. Never emperor’s clothes were more admired.
“But he has nothing on at all,” said a little child at last. “Good heavens! listen to the voice of an innocent child,” said the father, and one whispered to the other what the child had said. “But he has nothing on at all,” cried at last the whole people. That made a deep impression upon the emperor, for it seemed to him that they were right; but he thought to himself, “Now I must bear up to the end.” And the chamberlains walked with still greater dignity, as if they carried the train which did not exist.
The problem with “Children of Men” is the emperor has no clothes. It carries itself like the vain pompous emperor who said, “Now I must bear up to the end.” Watching the film lumber to its end, I thought of how the “the chamberlains walked with still greater dignity, as if they carried the train which did not exist.” What could have been a great film, was instead a waste of time, money and talent. The language, the brief nudity and violence which were present within this film, were not enough for me to disqualify the movie, but the lack of a coherent storyline, the mind-numbing plot, the arrogance of the director with his politically correct worldview, left me feeling insulted and shorted by his “vision.”
Humanity and “human projects” are not the hope for fallen and brutal humanity. God had a human project 2000 years ago, through the Incarnation. The One who became flesh, and is alive forever is the true Ark by which we must be delivered. All others pretending to be messianic are but pretenders. This one won’t even qualify as a rental. We get it.
Violence: Extreme / Profanity: Extreme / Sex/Nudity: Moderate
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.