Alfonso Cuaron’s Children of Men tells a tale of a dystopian world marred with violence and infertility. Along with that, many countries are at war with each other and have imposed draconian immigration laws allowing them to detain thousands of immigrants. In some ways it is a reflection of parts of our own world- after all war and xenophobia are not ideals that are new to us. Yet through all the death and explosions lies an underlying theme of hope. I feel it is fitting that Cuaron uses a grim subject matter like infertility as a vehicle to carry the theme of hope since it often shines amidst suffering. If life was perfect, we would feel no need for that deep longing we call hope and similar to real life, this story of hope is not always happy-go-lucky.
Along with the subject matter of infertility, Cuaron relies heavily on religious symbolism to drive the film’s theme of hope. For example, Kee’s pregnancy bears so much similarity to that of Mary’s in the Bible. She reveals her pregnancy to Theo surrounded by sheep and other livestock as though she were in a stable like when Mary gave birth to Jesus. Her baby is a symbol of hope for humanity, again, similar to baby Jesus. Theo who bears Kee amidst all the chaos around them, takes responsibility for protecting both Kee and her child which signifies just how important the baby is. The child represents much more than hope for just her or Theo but for all of mankind. By watching Theo go through so much with Kee just to protect her baby, the film manages to make us feel inspired and overjoyed by something we consider so normal: new life. It offers a different dimension to the saying “don’t take what you have for granted.”
Cuaron’s film manages to take the future away from us, but at the end, give it back to us in a completely different way. It makes us realize that we have so much to be thankful for, that we have life, that children are born every day. It really makes us put our lives into perspective, especially amid all the bad things going on in the world. Ultimately, it forces us to ask ourselves: are our lives really that bad?