In 2027, after 18 years of worldwide female infertility, civilization is on the brink of collapse as humanity faces the grim reality of extinction. The United Kingdom, one of the few stable nations with a functioning government, has been deluged by asylum seekers from around the world, fleeing the chaos and war which has taken hold in most countries.
In response, Britain has become a militarized police state as British forces round up and detain immigrants. Kidnapped by an immigrants rights group known as the Fishes, former activist turned cynical bureaucrat Theo Faron (Clive Owen) is brought to its leader, his estranged American wife Julian Taylor (Julianne Moore), from whom he separated after their son died from a flu pandemic in 2008.
Julian offers Theo money to acquire transit papers for a young refugee named Kee (Clare-Hope Ashitey), which Theo obtains from his cousin Nigel (Danny Huston), a government minister. However, the bearer must be accompanied, so Theo agrees to escort Kee in exchange for a larger sum. They seek help from a variety of people while on the run, including Jasper Palmer, an aging hippie and former editorial cartoonist who cares for his catatonic wife and faithful dog on a secluded compound.
In an interesting twist on the apocalypse drama genre, Children of Men presents a world that is coming to an end with a whimper as opposed to a bang. For there is no cataclysmic explosion forcing humanity to confront it’s own mortality. No, in this case, people have simply lost the ability to reproduce–and the youngest person alive is now approaching adulthood. Of course, over the ensuing years (the film is set in 2027) of this ongoing tragedy, there has been an expected societal breakdown.
Now, the streets of London are ravaged by terrorism and extremist groups are battling to overturn the complacent, and possibly complicit, government. While this may seem like a broad and epic canvas, Children of Men covers many weighty issues within the relatively straightforward story of its protagonist, Clive Owen. Owen, an ex-activist who is now somewhat disconnected, is drawn back into a world that he wants no part of. The unlikeliest and most reluctant of heroes, Owen confronts his own ideology and apathy when an extremist group introduces him to a pregnant teen.
Director: Alfonso Cuarón
Year of Release: 2006
Character to watch: Michael Caine as Jasper Palmer.
Journal your answers to the following questions after you watch the movie.
- How does this particular character’s journey compare with yours?
- Did the character develop certain characteristics during the movie that you have or that you would like to have? If so, what are those characteristics?
- What obstacles did this character face? What was his or her biggest challenge?
- What would you have done differently if you had been in the same position as the character?
- Is this character the type of person you would be friends with? Why or why not?