Alfonso Cuaron adapted the book “Children of Men” by PD James and created an outstanding movie out of it, where the character can evolve in a very rich and detailed world.
We are in 2027, no children have been born for 18 years. Theo, just like everyone, lost hope and wanders aimlessly through life. Until he meets the refugee Kee who is miraculously pregnant.
The main characters
This world is not just rich in detail and credibility, it is also populated by many characters. But most of them are secondary to Theo’s story, so let’s just look at the main ones. And just like in Boy A, we can see we do not need many to tell a great story.
- the positive ones:
- Jasper is Theo’s best friend. In the first act, he helps Theo stay alive in his mind by providing him a breath of fresh air in this over polluted world. In the second act, he also saves his life physically by helping him run away from the Fishes.
- Julian will get Theo out of his apathetic world. He used to be a political activist, but lost hope. She gets him back on track by offering him to help them on a secret assignment.
- Kee is the almost a MacGuffin, in the sense that she is what everyone is after.
- Miriam and Marika could almost be the same character. The “one character/one purpose” rule is almost broken, as both serve the same function of a friend. Both help Theo go through the obstacles, but they do it at different times. As soon as Miriam gets taken by the immigration cops, Marika takes over.
- the negative ones:
- Luke appears at first as a friend, but he will soon be found to have a different agenda.
- Patric is the angriest against Theo. He is just pure anger and will try and get Theo dead, regardless of the implications.
- Syd is very helpful at first, but as soon as he can get anything from the events, he will become an enemy. Just like Miriam and Marika, Luke and Syd serve the same function, but in different scenes.
The 3 acts structure
With so many locations, it can also be tricky to isolate what are the key plot points. But bookmarking each scene helped find this structure:
- Diego died and bombed cafe
- Visit to Jasper
- Kidnapped by fishes and sees Julian for the first time after 20 years
- Theo visits his cousin
- Theo meets Kee
- Julian gets killed in an ambush
- Rest at the farm
- Kee reveals to Theo she is pregnant
- Theo learns Luke organized the car ambush
- Theo, Miriam and Kee escape the farm
- They arrive at Jasper
- The fishes break into Jasper’s place
- Theo, Miriam and Kee wait for Syd at the abandoned school
- Kee is about to deliver on their way to Bexhill
- Theo and Kee meet Marika, who finds them a safe place for the night
- Kee delivers the baby
- Syd finds the baby. Theo, Kee and Marika escape
- Marika leads them to her community protected home
- Marika leads them to a boat, but the fishes arrive and steal Kee from them
- Hell breaks loose as the army tries to regain control of the area.
- Theo follows the fishes in the middle of the battle. He finds her inside a building targeted by tanks
- Civilians starts to earn the baby crying. Then the soldiers. Theo, Kee and the baby escape the scene.
- Marika helps them get on the boat, which allows Kee to reach the Human Project.
A believable world
Credibility is one of this movie’s qualities. It successfully portrays a collapsing society. Although the plot as described above is fairly simple, we are shown short scenes making clear that this is not a happy place anymore:
- The cafe being blown up. Terrorism is right around the corner.
- Tv broadcast showing riots all around the globe
- Kids throwing stones at trains
- Immigrants locked up in cages
- Soldiers at every street corners
- Large resident buildings being evacuated with force
When you see where those those scenes are placed on the movie’s timeline, we can see that they are only at the beginning of the movie. And some of them are one right after the other. That could make a very bleak movie, but luckily, the filmmakers have been smart enough to us plenty of…
It would have been an easy choice to make a very dark and humourless movie, just like The Road. But it would certainly have removed a lot of its humanity and would have therefore diminished its impact.
A lot of it starts with Theo cynical outlook on life. He just does not give a shit anymore. About anything.
Here are other scenes which drive the fun:
- The joke Jasper tells, about the storks being eaten for diner.
- The sub plot with Theo’s shoes. He has to flee the farm without them at 00:40 and only gets a new pair at 01:20. He spent almost the whole second act without shoes!
- The awkward and slightly cartoony escape from the farm. Very tense as well. The missing shoes, the car crash against the tree, Patric falling.
- Jasper fake death
- Jasper and Miriam shared passion for UFOs
- The debate about the baby name. It also prepares us for the final words when Kee decides she will name her baby after Theo and Julian’s lost child.
- The password “You’re a fascist pig” that Theo has to tell to Syd.
- Syd talking in the third person.
- Marika’s dog being a bit too noisy when Kee is about to deliver.
- The awkward communication with Marika (and Theo drawing skills when he asks for a boat).
All those jokes are indeed pretty dark. We don’t always laugh out loud with those. But they surely help make this world believable and memorable.
meets with Jasper and car trip
kids throwing stones at train
immigrants locked up in cage
"it is too late, world turned to shit". Faron grew cynical
Faron kidnapped by the fishes. denies their offer
people are being evacuated with force
Faron meets his cousin for transit papers
society. cult prays in Picadilly circus
gets instructions from Luke
ambush, Julian gets killed
kee reveals being pregnant
debate about the next action
Theo realizes Luke organized the ambush
Theo runs away with Kee and Miriam
fishes break in Jasper's
at the abandonned school waiting for Syd. backstory by Miriam
in the bus to Bexhill. Tension raises as Kee is about to deliver the baby. Miriam is taken.
Theo and Kee find Marika
Syd discovers the baby because of Marika's dog
getting help from Marika's friends
everyone hears the baby
Marika helps them get on the boat