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The Children of Men


Watched “Children of Men” tonight. For those who don’t know, it’s one of those British dystopia movies – I think 28 Days Later and V for Vendetta fall into the category. It’s set in 2027, in a kind of business-as-usual bleak scenario, with an ongoing insurgency and an authoritarian government, but with the twist that no babies have been born in 18-some years. When a girl is found to be pregnant and is in the hands of the resistance, the protagonist has to try to get her to safety from the various groups that would do her harm or use her. I thought it was okay. It had some things that bothered me.

-The only trustworthy people in the movie were white… those in the resistance who turned out to be traitorous were black/brown.
-The pregnant girl, the quintessential single mother, happened to be black.
-The Islamic and Arab aspect of the rebellion in the refugee camp was overstated, I think, for the UK in 2027.
-The incompetence and lack of politics of the rebels was grating.
-I found it hard to believe that ordinary human and family relationships had been wiped out to that extent – even after 20 years of not having babies.

Perhaps these latter dislikes of mine are due to the writers being able to see farther than I can, as opposed to the writers’ limitations.

What I liked about the film:

-It seemed to capture the broad contours of a bleak future. Probably because it captures the broad contours of the bleak present. Dispossession, propaganda, violence, alienation, nowhere safe, no one to trust, a collapsing society and environment, and seemingly random violence.
-It captures this with very spectacular cinematography and effects. I didn’t like some of the military aspects of the major battle in the refugee camp, but it had some very significant realism as well, and captured the sights and sounds and terror of such situations very well.

But I return to the political problems that were inadequately handled. Were the writers just seeing to a future when genuine alternatives had been destroyed, when the process of their destruction had left resistances that long since lost their own ethical framework and could offer nothing to the population? Or was envisioning a battle between an authoritarian, diffuse, collapsing capitalist society and a genuine alternative, politically fought, beyond the ability of our moviemakers today? I mean, I think the future is as bleak as anybody, but I also think that there are people and organizations out there that are inspiring. I don’t think the fight for the future will be so bereft of decency, which can be found in some terrible situations. But maybe not all of them.

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