"Children Of Men"

"Children Of Men", one of my favourite films of the year (and which I think deserved rather more Oscar nods than it has actually received) - is now out on dvd. It is set in a dystopian near-future Britain (2027) that has some similarity with the world of Steven Speilberg's "Minority Report". The major difference is that whereas the Speilberg film presents a world where technological developments seem to have created a better, safer, shiny new world, "Children Of Men" (helmed by Mexican director Alfonso Cuáron) presents a world in obvious meltdown due to there being no babies born anywhere in the world during the last 18 years. As one character says (paraphrase), what a sad place the world is without children's laughter. Technological advances in areas such as advertising (video clip adverts on the outside of double-decker buses and news stands) and car technology (virtual dashboards on the inside of car windscreens in the style of "heads-up" displays on computer video games) counterpoint scenes of urban decay, poverty and social turmoil on a grand scale.

It is based on a book by P.D. James (which I haven't yet read) and gives an alternative take on the Nativity story. The world has gone to pot, social upheaval on a dramatic scale, masses of immigrants/refugees from all over the world coming to Britain. No child has been born in the world for 18 years. Then, a young black woman is discovered to be with child. The climactic sequence towards the end is incredibly powerful and very moving.

The film is full of sly references to its biblical template for those who wish to see them (but less obviously than in the book apparently). I think it would be great for use with 6th form R.E. students as an alternative way into the Nativity story, but also to reflect on Messianic expectation amongst the Jews of Jesus' day and how this was then reflected in attitudes to Jesus.

I've already started using it in Film Studies, the excuse being the excellent cinematography during the aforementioned climactic sequence, much of which is filmed without a break (woman carrying baby with male protector, trying to make it through the war zone that is Bexhill-on-Sea! :-). Nice cameo from Michael Caine... phrase "gone to pot" quite appropriate in his case!

God bless.

Bro. James

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