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Children of Men

Entry updated 8 January 2017. Tagged: Film.

Film (2006). Universal Pictures present a Strike Entertainment production in association with Hit and Run Productions. Directed by Alfonso Cuarón. Written by Cuarón & Timothy J Sexton and David Arata and Mark Fergus & Hawk Ostby, based on The Children of Men (1992) by P D James. Cast includes Clare-Hope Ashitey, Michael Caine, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Danny Huston, Julianne Moore, Peter Mullan and Clive Owen. 109 minutes. Colour.

In 2027, two decades after human fertility has fallen to zero and a totalitarian UK is the last functioning state with its borders brutally protected against immigrants, a disillusioned ex-dissident is entrusted with smuggling a pregnant refugee into the protection of a rumoured offshore research community.

Modestly budgeted but stylistically seminal, this gritty Dystopia for the age of terror became a key reference point for filmmakers in its deglamourized, technologically retrograde vision of a future London which has crumbled into a third-world version of the present. The script wanders far from its source, if arguably not far enough; Cuarón inherited the project from development by other writers and was more interested in the premise than in the novel, whose genteel chase narrative and clubbish power politics give way here to a more urgent, immigrant-centred experience of its world. Like his friend and sometime colleague Guillermo Del Toro, Cuarón loads his film with Catholic imagery, here in odd tension with its otherwise studiously English milieu, and the film unravels at the end in what might generously be seen as a gesture of self-deconstruction. The logistically challenging use of very long takes, which gives the film its strongest sequences, would also be a signature feature of Cuarón's minimalist 3D orbital Disaster movie Gravity (2013). [NL]


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