Friday, August 17, 2007


CHILDREN OF MEN (2006, UK/USA, Alfonso Cuaron, screenplay with Timothy 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." Psalm 90

Set in the not-distant-enough 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 (the climax remind anybody else 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.

The book, unfortunately, is not available at videomatica. But if you're willing to settle for the dvd...


Peter T Chattaway said...

Re: the release date. According to the IMDb, the film opened in its native England in September, and then spread to the rest of Europe (as well as Israel, Japan, Latin America, Australia and New Zealand!) in October and November. As for the North American release, it opened in a handful of American cities on Christmas Day before going wide in January -- a typical release pattern for a possible Oscar contender that doesn't have the big stars to guarantee a huge opening during the crowded Christmas season itself. So I wouldn't read too much into the fact that a handful of American cities got it on Christmas Day. :)

Ron Reed said...

Thanks, PTC. I'll excise the release date ref.