Children of Men (2006)
|Genre(s): Drama / Fantasy / Mystery / Science Fiction / Thriller|
|Universal || R - 109 minutes - $29.98 || March 27, 2007|
|Reviewer: Elyusha Vafaeisefat || Posted On: 2007-03-30|
Writer(s): P.D. James (novel), Alfonso Cuarón & Timothy J. Sexton and David Arata and Mark Fergus & Hawk Ostby (screenplay)
Cast: Clive Owen, Julianne Moore, Michael Caine, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Charlie Hunnam, Danny Huston, Claire-Hope Ashity, Peter Mullan, Pam Ferris
Theatrical Release Date: January 5, 2007
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Warning: Contains Minor Spoilers!
The premise Children of Men is actually quite simple; women are infertile so human offspring is no longer possible anymore. The film begins with the death of "baby Diego" who was the youngest child in the world at age 18. The film then follows its main character Theo (Clive Owen) as he unexpectedly meets his former lover Julian (Julianne Moore) who hadn't seen in almost 20 years. Julian asks for help from Theo but Theo is unaware as to what she needs his help for. So one event leads to another and Theo realizes that Julian in fact has discovered a woman who has become pregnant. The rest of the film is the journey of Theo and this pregnant woman to get to a boat called "Tomorrow" in hopes that this baby will be saved.
Director Alfonso Cuarón does a fantastic job of re-creating a post-apocalyptic look for the film. We see images of immigrants being treated like cattle as they are sent into camps as well as an overall sense of chaos as terrorist groups from around the world make attacks on cities. This was one of the first post-apocalyptic films that I have seen in my generation that could feasibly happen. The film doesn't take place in 2400 or anything that no one in this generation would even see but more realistically, it takes place only a few decades from now in 2027. Given the direction that governments from around the world are going to in terms of immigration and terrorism it was not a far stretch to see people horded on buses and taken into camps.
One of the most impressive aspects of the film is the camerawork by cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki. I am a huge fan of Lubezki's fluid camera in films like The New World, Ali and of course Y tu mamá también. All of those films seem to have a hypnotic feel to them because of the way Lubezki likes to shoot. There were several scenes in Children of Men where the takes seemed like they were 5 or 6 minutes long without any cuts. Perhaps one of the most intense scenes was the scene where Julian is murdered in the car and the camera almost does a 360 degree turn and captures the scene from all angles. Another scene that was impressive to me was the scene where Theo and Kee (the pregnant woman) are escaping from their group because they feel that this child will only be used by the group for their own purposes. Lubezki and Cuarón do an amazing job setting this scene up and the intensity of this scene is as high as I've ever felt in a film.
Perhaps the most impressive sequence in Cuarón's film is the scene where Theo and Kee are escaping with the newborn baby while trying to get to the "Tomorrow" boat. Like in many Latin American films, Cuarón and Lubezki chose to direct this scene (as well as 95% of the film) in handheld, which added even more to the realism. At one point we even see blood splattered on the camera as Theo and Kee end up right in the middle of an attack from the government against suspected "terrorists." Perhaps my favorite scene in the entire film is when Theo and Kee reveal to the soldiers and fighters that they in fact have a baby with them. Cuarón almost freezes time as Kee and Theo glide down the stairs and everyone is frozen and shocked that a baby actually exists. What makes this scene so great is that everyone stares at this baby and stops fighting for only moments but as soon as they leave the area, the gunfire and explosions continue right where they left off. It is a beautifully composed scene and the music chosen only adds even more to the mood of the scene. Overall, I felt the film was one of the most intense and thought provoking films I had seen in a long time. I think what made it so intriguing is the very thought that this chaotic world of the future is not something that was just in a movie but could feasibly happen because of the direction the world may be going into with "homeland security." The film is no doubt a cautionary tale as to what may happen around the world when it comes to immigration control, food shortages, plagues as well as violent rebellions against the governments. Cuarón and Lubezki's filmmaking techniques all add to the bleak look of the film and create the fascinating post-apocalyptic world of London, which has lost its "posh-ness" thanks to uprisings.
It was unfortunate to see that Children of Men seemed to be overlooked when it came to awards. It was nominated for 3 Oscars (Cinematography, Editing and Screenplay) but in the end came up empty. I think the main reason why the film may have been overlooked is because of its release date so close to the holidays. The film is bleak, dark and not very uplifting at all. However, I do believe that Cuarón's film is one that will stand the test of time and be remembered much more than some of the other films that received so much attention last year.
Deleted Scenes - The DVD contains three short deleted scenes that run a total of only 2 ½ minutes. None of them particularly stand out and that is obviously because of the length of these deleted scenes.
The Possibility of Hope - Written and Produced by Alfonso Cuarón, this 27 minute mini-documentary covers topics such as globalization, immigration, and global warming. The mini-doc is separated into five topics: Reality, Fear, Walls, Fever and Hope. Philosophers, historians, economists and various other activists discuss topics such as possible refugee flows from around the world to climate control. While the documentary doesn't have anything to do with the actual production of the film it still discusses a great deal of topics that the film only touches upon.
"Children of Men" Comments by Slavoj Zizek - In this 6 minute extra, Slovenian philosopher and cultural critic Slavoj Zizek offers his thoughts on the film Children of Men. Zizek discusses the approach the film takes in terms of style as well as Cuarón's themes. Zizek also discusses differences between the novel and the film as well as comments on the film and its possible meanings. Zizek has a heavy accent so it may be hard for some to understand what he says but fortunately there is a subtitle option for this extra (as well as all the other extras).
Under Attack - This extra runs about 7 ½ minutes and focuses on Alfonso Cuarón's filming style with the long takes and low amount of cuts. Cuarón discusses how he wanted to take a documentary approach to making the film because of the gritty subject matter. The extra also discusses how they filmed that amazing 360 degree car sequence without any cuts.
Theo & Julian - In this 4 ½ minute extra, actors Clive Owen and Julianne Moore discuss their characters' backgrounds as well as motivations for their respective characters.
Futuristic Design - This featurette runs about 8 ½ minutes and discusses how Cuarón wanted to create his post-apocalyptic atmosphere for the film. The filmmakers discuss how they were looking for less aesthetically pleasing locations rather than the beautiful locations that films usually look for. The filmmakers also discuss the recreation of shantytowns as well as their approach to showing the lack of progression of technology.
Visual Effects: Creating the Baby - The final extra is a 3 minute look at how the filmmakers created the lifelike CGI baby. We see step by step how the baby being born was done up to the final composite of the shots put together. I thought this was the most fascinating extra on the entire DVD. I only wish they would have included more of these types of looks at the great visual effects the film had.
.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.
Both the video and audio transfers for the film were very good. The film is presented in 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen. I didn't catch and noticeable errors in the colors of the film. The gritty, dark and post-apocalyptic look of the film comes off very well.
The audio is also very good. The film is offered only in Dolby Digital 5.1 with options for a French and Spanish track as well. The audio was solid throughout and the bass in the final action sequence comes off rather well. I do wish that a DTS track would have been available because the sound design for the film is truly one of its strong points.
While the DVD may be light in terms of extras for a film this great, I still think that Universal did a solid job with the DVD. I would have liked to see more behind the scenes looks at the actual filming process, more interviews with the cast as well as a commentary from director Alfonso Cuarón. Nonetheless, the film itself is worth owning even without any extras. Though in the end, I think the big fans of the film will be pleased with the overall package of the DVD.