Children of Men

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Galen Young
Joined: Fri Nov 12, 2004 8:46 pm

#126 Post by Galen Young » Fri Jan 12, 2007 2:01 am

Kirkinson wrote:It's also unwise to call the ending a wrap-up or a Spielbergian cop-out. What exactly does the ending tell you?
SpoilerShow
This one woman who managed to get pregnant and give birth makes it onto a boat.

Does that actually make a difference to the rest of the world? Your answer to that question is what you take away from the film: whether or not this actually opens up any room for hope. I don't think the film intends to spell out an answer for you.
Here is what I get out of the ending:
SpoilerShow
Kee tells Theo in the barn that she's needs his help in getting to the ship "Tomorrow". She tells him of her knowledge of his dead son by Julian, and pulls his heartstrings by telling him that Julian (whom he still loves) told her to trust only him -- after which she reveals to him that she's pregnant. Astonished, Theo becomes her protector from that point on.

After a journey through hell, they literally find the light at the end of the tunnel and emerge out into the open sea. Just as Kee learns that Theo has been shot and is bleeding to death -- in one final Speilbergian heart-wrencher of a moment -- she decides to name her baby "Dylan", after Theo and Julian's dead son. (culminating a running gag about baby names) Just after he dies, the ship they are trying desperately to get to appears out the fog, on cue, ready to rescue her.

So, by the end, the lovably downbeat, reluctant hero Theo has succeeded in getting the first woman to give birth in eighteen years to the safety of the "Human Project" -- to a boat that is labeled (literally!) the "Tomorrow".

Cut to a repeat of the title card "Children of Men" -- this time with the sound of young children joyfully playing on the soundtrack, which has been noticeably absent from the film, indeed, the lack of which is commented upon by the character Miriam. (in the only speech taken from the book)

I'd call that a nice, hopeful, tear-jerking Hollywood Ending, a "comforting resolution", if you will.

Then over the end credits, Jarvis Crocker mournfully sings that "cunts are still running the world", the film's most pointed "political commentary". (given after the majority of the audience has left...) I agree with that sentiment.

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Kirkinson
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#127 Post by Kirkinson » Fri Jan 12, 2007 2:20 am

Thanks for going into detail. That seems like a reasonable assessment. Nevertheless, that's not the effect the ending had on me at all. Could be I'm just pessimistic to begin with.

I'll try to read the book this weekend.

scalesojustice
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#128 Post by scalesojustice » Fri Jan 12, 2007 10:01 am

i also think that's reasonable if a bit cynical. for some reason, i had a continual lingering doubt that the "human project" ever existed and still did even at the end.

while all the clues do point to the more positive or "happy" ending (which i find funny that we call speilbergian considering "happy" endings in hollywood were commonplace way before the 1970s), the film's bleak and unforgiving view of the world hardly allowed my conscious to feel at peace at the end.

then again, i can be a sentimental kind of guy and i was actually terrified that Cuaron a minute earlier. perhaps i allowed the film to affect me more than most.

i wonder though how your view of the end affects your opinion of the movie. is the ending a deal breaker? for my part, i hardly think about the end (and maybe that's because it's a bit of a throw-away, but i didn't say that...)

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Galen Young
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#129 Post by Galen Young » Fri Jan 12, 2007 11:02 am

Hopefully people caught the most obvious sign -- Kee? Key? Gotta get Kee to the Tomorrow. Oh I get it. (nudge nudge wink wink) She's the key to tomorrow. :)

Spielberg (like Truffaut) has mostly been of accused of producing schmaltz involving kids that tug at your heartstrings, Cuarón has done something similar here I think. (besides aping the Saving Private Ryan and Full Metal Jacket intensity of war)

I like the ending of the book better, but for what they fashioned for the screen (a completely different story) it works. I'm a sucker for that manipulative heavy-handed stuff and Cuarón got my waterworks pouring a number times -- especially at the end! Never thought this would be a three hanky movie going in.

EDIT: Just came across this piece by David Poland -- looks like he's as shocked as I am after reading the book, and learning what the film could have been, especially with this director and cast. Why Cuarón, why?!
Last edited by Galen Young on Thu Jan 18, 2007 12:18 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Barmy
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#130 Post by Barmy » Fri Jan 12, 2007 2:30 pm

So are you suggesting that she is a key to something or other? Tomorrow, perhaps? Deepness.
We experience for an hour and a half the state of things, and then try to make our own conclusions about the possibility of hope.
What is comprehensible about that?

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toiletduck!
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#131 Post by toiletduck! » Fri Jan 12, 2007 3:20 pm

Um... that for an hour and a half, Cuaron has us experience a concrete state of the world, and at the end allows each viewer to make their own conclusions about the possibility of hope from that point forward?

C'mon, Barmy, I know it's not the big words that're tripping you up.

-Toilet Dcuk

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Barmy
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#132 Post by Barmy » Fri Jan 12, 2007 3:34 pm

Umm, I believe the director of "Big Momma's House 2" said EXACTLY the same thing about his film.

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toiletduck!
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#133 Post by toiletduck! » Fri Jan 12, 2007 3:55 pm

I never said the quote was deep.

Although, that doesn't speak much to your inability to comprehend it...
--unnecessary emoticon, unnecessary emoticon--

-Toilet Dcuk

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Polybius
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#134 Post by Polybius » Fri Jan 12, 2007 11:23 pm

scalesojustice wrote:while all the clues do point to the more positive or "happy" ending (which i find funny that we call speilbergian considering "happy" endings in hollywood were commonplace way before the 1970s)
Steve's not working under the Hays Code.

David Ehrenstein
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#135 Post by David Ehrenstein » Sun Jan 14, 2007 4:53 pm

It's provisionally happy. Clive Owen dies knowing that he has at least kept Kee and her baby alive. After that everything's up for grabs.

Besides the film is metaphoric rather than literal. It's "realism" is one of allusion (mostly to Abu Grahaib.)

rs98762001
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#136 Post by rs98762001 » Sun Jan 14, 2007 6:34 pm

The Dave Poland article linked above hits the nail on the head. Strip away the impressive filmmaking and the ideas are rather conventional and simplistic (not to mention covered with greater depth in numerous other films). I truly appreciated the film on a visceral level, but having read the original material, am also disappointed that Cuaron and his collaborators took the easy way out.

Jonathan Rosenbaum's thoughts on the film sum it up far better than I could:
Despite some striking details and a mesmerizing performance by Michael Caine as an aging hippie, the movie develops from one that could be described in 25 words or less to one that could be described in 10 or less. Not surprisingly, most critics, including me (I wrote a Critic's Choice for the film two weeks ago), are obsessed with how adept Cuaron is at handling long takes and a complicated mise en scene -- we're celebrating the technique and minimizing the banality of the story.

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Steven H
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#137 Post by Steven H » Sun Jan 14, 2007 6:50 pm

I cannot comprehend why so many people are finding faults with the political commentary in this film. You can look at hundreds of well received classic films and pick apart their political ideals and call them "unsophisticated". Here are a handful of examples. A Clockwork Orange, ostensibly a futuristic black comedy with a mountain of fears for overwrought bureaucracy. Who cares? What a simple minded approach! Interesting and funny characters, sure, but who *hasn't* thought of prison and brainwashing and stuffy politicians? Any stoner could have thought of that. Or Citizen Kane being about Capitalism making us lose touch with who we really are. Been there done that. How dare Welles make such broad generalizations and shallow observations. Same for Bresson's L'argent. How dare these filmmakers delve into the political arena with such simpleminded fare. I can only hope that my unsophisticated point is made relatively clear.

I'm not saying that it's wrong to take the film to task for reducing the complexities of the book, but why not take the film on it's own terms? And for those that don't care about the book, and still find the commentary hollow, maybe take another look. I could easily have my argument thrown right back at me by someone saying, "well, you can say any film that describes a political situation is untouchable!" Then again, it is all subjective, and for me it seems the arguments for it's merits are much more convincing than those against.

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lord_clyde
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#138 Post by lord_clyde » Sun Jan 14, 2007 6:58 pm

Seconded. I always judge a film on its own terms, and in this case I had two very great nights at the movies.

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miless
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#139 Post by miless » Mon Jan 15, 2007 5:01 am

I just finished the book (as of five minutes ago) and have to say that I was disappointed. While the film really carried a sense of urgency and danger, the book seems a bit flaccid. really nothing but the basic idea about widespread infertility is kept in the film, and I have to say that the film is better for it. even the bit about infertility is inversed (males are infertile... therefore leaving a male to be the savior of the human race... as opposed to the interesting religious inversion in the film)
I also found the book to be too heavily religious, with far too many obvious references to Christianity.

and I agree with Cuarón when he describes the world of the book as "posh"... although there were elements that went against that notion, for the most part life in Britain (and elsewhere in Europe) was seemingly normal, if a bit underpopulated.

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John Cope
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#140 Post by John Cope » Wed Jan 17, 2007 2:49 am

David Walsh's view. And it's a particularly pointed one. He offers an additional perspective to our continued debate:
Children of Men makes no effort to explain how British society has become so oppressive. Repression of immigrants appears to have little or no connection to generalized economic difficulty. It simply seems malevolent. Unfortunately, this is not a unique failing. Neither Minority Report (Steven Spielberg) nor V For Vendetta (James McTeigue) could provide a plausible explanation for the dismal future each envisioned. The artists' intuition as to the possibility and quality of a military-police regime is far more advanced than their understanding about the driving forces of such a process.

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miless
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#141 Post by miless » Wed Jan 17, 2007 3:05 am

the simplest explanation, for me at least, for the deportation/imprisonment issues presented is that the government is "attempting to protect British citizens from terrorism and strife" which seems to have "destroyed" the rest of the world, and will (it seems) eventually destroy Britain. Also, if the rest of the world is in ruins (as all the evidence presented in the film suggests) than Britain faces a huge problem with overpopulation (quite ironic, I know) and economic disaster... so the government decides to deal with the problem in a similar way to Nazi Germany, imprison or expel those deemed a problem (foreigners).

I enjoy trying to piece together the world of Children of Men... it is entirely captivating and has me looking for clues all over the place. The very reason that we are arguing about this is the reason why I enjoy thismovie so much.

as for Minority Report, they do give a reason... and the reason is drugs (which is an absolutely ludicrous excuse, if you ask me)... yet another reason why I loathe MR.

David Ehrenstein
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#142 Post by David Ehrenstein » Wed Jan 17, 2007 11:25 am

Children of Men makes no effort to explain how British society has become so oppressive.
Well if you can't see that the film is a documentary I really can't help you. This is the way things are RIGHT NOW !!!

filmnoir1
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#143 Post by filmnoir1 » Wed Jan 17, 2007 12:26 pm

There is a nice commentary on the film in the January/February issue of Film Comment.

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#144 Post by Handsome Dan » Wed Jan 17, 2007 11:45 pm

Well if you can't see that the film is a documentary I really can't help you. This is the way things are RIGHT NOW !!!
Huh? Where on earth do you live??

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david hare
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#145 Post by david hare » Thu Jan 18, 2007 12:08 am

Well I live in sunny Australia, best bumfuck of Bush and buddy Tony Blair and here a a few of my favorite things:

we have concentration camps out in the desert for asylum seekers (including women and children) where these people rot for years on end out of the public view;

we've effectively abolished freedom of information by classifying everything under "Cabinet Confidentiality";

but it doesn't really matter because the press is almost totally controlled by Murdoch and the rest of it's inconsequential so it's completely tame anyway;

every time there's an election the presiding government plays wedge politics by throwing out the usual scaries about "illegal boat people", dirty Muslims, or - uhh - gay marriage and family values;

in the same breath it's enriching Fundy Christians with the most powerful wealth transfer ever seen in this country, handing over giant slabs of public education and what used to be a model Universal Medicare health system to these tax sheltered parasites;

oh I nearly forgot they brought back some 18th century Sedition laws, so when I call Howard a cunt I'm committing a criminal offence. Far more seriously they are throwing people in jail as "terrorists" after snooping on their emails and personal lives for expressing views hostile to this regime.

Honey open your eyes. This shit is all around you. It's called government by business. And phony wars run for cunts like Cheney and Halliburton. And only profit matters. Just keep feeding the drones consumption. Whatever this movie's worth (it opened and closed her last November) thak god somebody's getting the message out.

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Le Feu Follet
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#146 Post by Le Feu Follet » Thu Jan 18, 2007 6:42 am

davidhare wrote:Well I live in sunny Australia, best bumfuck of Bush and buddy Tony Blair and here a a few of my favorite things:

we have concentration camps out in the desert for asylum seekers (including women and children) where these people rot for years on end out of the public view;

we've effectively abolished freedom of information by classifying everything under "Cabinet Confidentiality";

but it doesn't really matter because the press is almost totally controlled by Murdoch and the rest of it's inconsequential so it's completely tame anyway;

every time there's an election the presiding government plays wedge politics by throwing out the usual scaries about "illegal boat people", dirty Muslims, or - uhh - gay marriage and family values;

in the same breath it's enriching Fundy Christians with the most powerful wealth transfer ever seen in this country, handing over giant slabs of public education and what used to be a model Universal Medicare health system to these tax sheltered parasites;

oh I nearly forgot they brought back some 18th century Sedition laws, so when I call Howard a cunt I'm committing a criminal offence. Far more seriously they are throwing people in jail as "terrorists" after snooping on their emails and personal lives for expressing views hostile to this regime.

Honey open your eyes. This shit is all around you. It's called government by business. And phony wars run for cunts like Cheney and Halliburton. And only profit matters. Just keep feeding the drones consumption. Whatever this movie's worth (it opened and closed her last November) thak god somebody's getting the message out.
It's amazing this still has to be spelt out. What more do 'liberal' governments need to do for people to realise that governments are about power, the survival of their own kind and the cynical manipulation of public opinion, and that genuine concern among the power elite for human rights and liberal ideals is already history?

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#147 Post by David Ehrenstein » Thu Jan 18, 2007 10:11 am

Huh? Where on earth do you live??
The United States of America. Do you read anything else on the net other than this site?
It's amazing this still has to be spelt out. What more do 'liberal' governments need to do for people to realise that governments are about power, the survival of their own kind and the cynical manipulation of public opinion, and that genuine concern among the power elite for human rights and liberal ideals is already history?
Sing Out Louise!!!

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a.khan
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#148 Post by a.khan » Thu Jan 18, 2007 10:35 am

David, how much to quit? I have friends with deep pockets.

David Ehrenstein
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#149 Post by David Ehrenstein » Thu Jan 18, 2007 11:53 am

Here's precisely why Children of Men is a documentary.

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tavernier
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#150 Post by tavernier » Thu Jan 18, 2007 1:11 pm

If it's a documentary, it's a pretty lousy one.

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