Saturday, January 06, 2007

Children of Men

Children of Men.


This was a breathtaking piece of legitimate science-fiction. It’s not often anymore to see a film that is true science-fiction. Much as I love Star Wars, it truly did popularize the notion that Space Opera was science-fiction.

Good science-fiction, to me, is something of a more literary quality.



Blade Runner.

These, to me, typify the dystopian myths of the future. Good science-fiction is a parable. Something that, when stripped away, will show you something about the goings-on of the day that you didn’t fully realize. Great science-fiction seems to be apt at just about any juncture in history. 1984, for instance, becomes more and more harrowingly luminescent of things to come as time marches on. THX-1138 is a blueprint for the direction of the world if prozak-popping Christian conservatives were in charge. Each time one is elected, we come one step closer to the horrifying reality portrayed in the film. Blade Runner shows us what life is like when people are treated like robots to the point where we have to test peoples humanity in order to separate men from machines.

Children of Men is a story not only about the spirit of man, but a world with an ever increasing distrust of foreigners and immigrants. It also reveals the dangers of a government that is willing to encroach on civilian life with military force. Bexhill, the immigrant “refugee” camp seems to me to represent Baghdad and government armies and political radicals fight each other in the midst of civilians without a care in the world. The camp of Bexhill is even outfitted with Guantanamo-style prisoner kennels, replete with black hoods and blaring music.

It’s horrifying and scary.

Except, in this world, the mere sight of a child is able to stop the fighting. In the current war, in Iraq, the sight of children seems to stop nothing.

The more I think about it, the portrayal of war in this picture is actually nicer than what is happening in Iraq.

The point is, the story is amazing. The storytelling, the filmmaking, is utterly breathtaking.

Cuaron stages shots that go ten minutes in length across three blocks and up flights of stairs that include heavy physical effects, tanks, hundreds of extras, squibs, gunshots and top-notch acting performances that force actors to remain in character for ungodly lengths of time. Sustained shots for more than a minute or two always keep me on edge and some of these shots go on for entire reels, it seems.

And they all stand out.

One is an amazing chase from the inside of a car where action is occurring on the outside and the five performers on the inside are all reacting. Another amazing shot is a car chase down a grassy hill where a car won’t start all in one sustained shot.

The most bizarre thing about the chase is that, in one single camera shot, Cuaron manages to make it tense and electrifying. He keeps the action on the edge of your seat and the cars are literally just rolling down a hill. I was on the edge of my seat.

Long story short, every good thing you hear about this film is true. Cuaron is an amazing filmmaker. (To date, he’s made the only Harry Potter picture worth watching.)

You owe it to yourself to go see this motion picture.

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