Alfonso Cuarón’s film adaptation of the P.D. James’ book Children of Men is an incredible work of art marked by some of the most amazing cinematography I have seen. Opening on Christmas day in 2006, critics compared the characters of Theo and Kee with Joseph and Mary, calling the film a “modern day nativity story”.
Children of Men envisages a world one generation from now that has fallen into chaos on the heels of an infertility defect in the population. The world’s youngest citizen has just died at 18, and humankind is facing the likelihood of its own extinction. Set against a backdrop of London torn apart by violence and warring nationalistic sects, the film follows an unlikely champion of Earth’s survival: Theo, a disillusioned ex-activist turned bureaucrat, who is forced to face his own demons and protect the planet’s last remaining hope.
According to Cuarón, the title of P.D. James’ book is a Catholic allegory derived from a passage of scripture in the Bible. Psalm 90:3 reads (in the KJV):
“Thou turnest man to destruction; and sayest, Return, ye children of men.”
Author James refers to her story as a “Christian fable” while Cuarón describes it as “almost like a look at Christianity”: “I didn’t want to shy away from the spiritual archetypes,” Cuarón told Filmmaker Magazine.
What they’ve produced is a dark, dystopian fable grasping for hope and miracles amidst a bleak future landscape. It was one of my favorite films of 2006 and a privilege to examine and speak about in a Cinemagogue presentation at Mars Hill Church. The audio presentation is available here.
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