Mon, 30 Apr 2007

Children of Men was a pretty good movie, but I’m not altogether sure it made sense.

As you probably know, the premise is that, for reasons never explained, the human race has become infertile. It’s been eighteen years since the last child on earth was born, and everyone’s pretty tense and bitter about it. Okay, so far so good. I think it’s a safe bet that people would be tense and bitter under these circumstances. Now the job for the filmmakers is to fill in the details of what this world would look like. And I found myself thinking that a lot of those details were exactly wrong.

For instance, when the hero wandered past a wall dotted with graffiti, I wondered, would there really be graffiti in a world with no teenagers? At another point, some characters driving through the countryside are ambushed by a band of brigands. And I thought, would brigandage really be a major issue in a future where there was a shortage of young people? Wouldn’t there be lots of high-paying entry-level jobs available? And with all the old folks dying off, real estate in the city must be cheap. Is the life of a highwayman really the best these twenty-somethings could hope for?

As I’ve said, it’s not surprising that the infertile inhabitants of the near-future would be grumpy, but it’s never explained why the British government would take out its grumpiness on illegal immigrants. In a world with no younger generation coming up to replace aging workers, wouldn’t the sensible thing be to encourage immigration? The real threat in an infertile world would be people wanting to leave the country, not people trying to get in.

The director of the movie is Mexican, and it’s pretty obvious that he’s unhappy about the scapegoating of illegal immigrants. Fair enough. Judging by all the images of brown people cowering before barking dogs, and prisoners having black hoods pulled over their heads, he also seems to be righteously angry about the Bush administration, Gitmo, the War on Terror, and so forth. And again, that’s fair enough. But I’m not sure if Children of Men was the vessel into which his righteous anger should have been poured. Making a movie “topical” may cause politically-conscious audience members to nod their heads in recognition, but if current events bear little relevance to the story you’re trying to tell, all those nodding heads can distract you from enjoying the movie.

If they were so hot on exploring the immigration issue, the filmmakers should’ve created their own entirely original dystopian sci-fi thriller about illegal immigrants oppressed by the government. Then someone else could’ve come along and made a movie about mass infertility that actually had something to do with mass infertility. Both movies would probably be worth watching, I’m just not so sure I want to watch them at the same time.

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