In the 2006 film “Children of Men” the world is not so much post-apocalyptic as it is on its way to being a world entirely unpopulated. It is more a matter of the human race ending, not so much the actual planet. All women in the world have become infertile. The reason why is never stated, but one character hypothesizes that its because of pollution or chemicals, but we never get a clear vision as to why.
Great Britain has been turned into a militaristic state that is constantly deporting people and there are ads everywhere saying you should turn in refugees even if they are your cousin or brother. We also don’t get a clear sense of why Great Britain has become this way. The entire film is shot in nature or in the camps under dim lighting. The mood of the film is never truly optimistic because of this. Every time we see the characters fleeing a hostile environment the camera uses high-key natural lighting, but when they are kept in a place like the safe house or the refugee camp, the lighting is dim and the low-key lighting provides a sense of uncomfortableness or impending doom.
It seems that the world without children is far more harsh than a world with one. The militaristic state is so concerned with keeping terrorists out that they resort to xenophobic impulses. When we see Theo, Kee and Miriam riding on the bus into the refugee camp, the camera gives us a tracking shot of the outside, where there are refugees being stripped, lined up in an execution style and even dead bodies being laid on the floor. In addition to this, the entire world is riddled with bombings and the constant sense that “fishes” are trying to overthrow the government.
Then, there is the issue of the Quietus, the medicine for people to basically commit suicide. They have ads for this plastered over buses, in commercials and other places, but in a world without children the fear of annihilation from the opposing group, suicide seems like a good alternative. The film uses many medium close up shots to convey its message, I think it does this mainly to keep it focused on the characters that we are supposed to be looking at. When the Quietus is shown though, it is made to be in the background kind of like a subtle reminder that everyone will die and the population will hit zero eventually.
I did like that the film used establishing shots to give us perspective, like when the characters were hiding out we saw their point of view, or if they were in a new place we were shown that as well. Towards the end, when Bexhill is being invaded, tracking shots are used so it feels like we are there too. It makes us feel the same stressors that the characters must feel. I thought that the use of the blood splatters on the screen when Theo is being shot at was a nice artistic choice. When Kee finally gave birth I did breathe a sigh of relief, and the looks on everyone’s face in the refugee camp when they realized that there was a baby really proves the point that the world is much different with children in it. They give us hope in a way, I guess.
Overall, I think it was a very involved film. I felt like the tone was mainly pessimistic and when there was a sliver of optimism something came in and shot down my hopes and dreams, most of the time they were literally shot, as guns were used extensively in this film. I did enjoy this film as a whole as well, I wasn’t sure about it at first because of the uncertainties in the reasoning behind most of the crucial details, but the plot line proved to be enough to turn me into a fan.