Wednesday, March 28, 2007

CHILDREN OF MEN

CHILDREN OF MEN (2006, UK/USA, Alfonso Cuaron, screenplay with Timothy J. Sexton, David Arata, Mark Fergus & Hawk Ostby, from the P.D. James novel)
"Thou turnest man to destruction; and sayest, Return, ye children of men."

Set in the not-very-distant future, this story of an apocalyptically infertile world descending into barbarism – or fending off barbarism with all-too-recognizable fascism – passed through five different screenwriters on its way to production. In the process, it was mostly stripped of what made the P.D. James source novel her most distinctively Christian work. That doesn't stop many Christians (and almost everybody else) from celebrating it, but while I’m willing to let the book be the book and the film be its own unique thing, I can’t help mourning what was lost, especially once the personal and political focus of the film’s first third gears up into chase movie mode for the duration. However impressive the long takes, however welcome the Nativity imagery (emphasized by the Christmas release date – anybody else reminded of JOYEUX NOEL?), however troubling the nods to current political agonies, the almost non-stop action flattens the film into something almost ordinary. It could have been so much more. Faced with the choice between the book and the movie, take my advice – skip the flick and start reading.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Ron,

I love this film... it's my favourite of last year (I don't get out much, admitedly). But your thoughts are right on. The film could have had more substance. A perfect example is that the one central scene with dialogue in the 2nd act seemed to be thematically conected to different movie.

That said, don't listen to Ron. Watch the movie (and then read the book)! Yes, it could have been greater but it's still very, very good. It's images are unforgetable and whose ever heard of a big buget film infused with the idea that a life without children is not worth living?

We need more stories like this.

From a new dad,

Jason Goode

Ron Reed said...

"Don't listen to Ron" - best advice you'll get this year!

Add me to the list of people who've never heard of "a big buget film." (Wink. Congrats on the bambino! Hope the two of you haven't had to make your way through any war zones lately...)

Ron

Anonymous said...

Sorry about the typo... it was late.

JG

Ron Reed said...

No apologies required. A good typo maketh the heart glad!

R