The International Writers Magazine: Film

Children Of Men
Directed By Alfonso Cuaron
Starring : Clive Owen, Julianne Moore, Michael Caine
Jen Ames

"I have GOT to read the book" not something I usually come out with on the way out of the cinema, but on this rare occasion they were the first words out of my mouth. Promptly followed by my utter disgust at the way people will pay eight pounds for popcorn then leave it on the chair untouched.

I have always found that if I go to see a film that's based on a book I have read, I never enjoy it. I usually find that, films have to skim over the more intricate and subtle of moments in favour of good looking actors fancy stunt scenes, racy sex moments (ok I'm not really complaining there) and well, not being sat in the theatre for the eight and a half hours it took you to read the book.

However, watching Children Of Men, and witnessing a fabulous performance by Clive Owen as Theodore, inspired me to step into unknown territory and get hold of the original tale by P.D.James. I had some unanswered questions that I thought the book might shed some light on, so I could fit together the final pieces of this apocalyptic puzzle.

The story is set in Britain, in the scarily not too distant future, where mankind faces the ultimate dilemma- the inability to reproduce and repopulate the earth. The human race is dying, and we come into the story as the death of the youngest person on the planet is announced. Science and religion which until now have always provided answers and solutions have failed the people and hope seems to be a thing of the past as well. The world is crumbling, and society has broken down into people who know nothing but fear and paranoia.

We follow Theo, who spurred on by a meeting with his ex wife Julian (Julianne Moore) joins an underground society who are fighting for justice and a way out of life as they now know it. Like all good main characters, he has a pot smoking wise cracking father figure called Jasper (Caine) who lives in a hut surrounded by CCTV and is wanted by the government for stirring trouble. He proves a faithful alliance when the underground movement betrays Theo, his ex wife Julian and the reason she came to him for help. A small, but incredibly significant reason.

Together they journey to the coast to get this 'reason' to safety, but are attacked by government officials, who manage to murder one of our key characters in a heart-wrenching scene. To top it all off, when they kill one of their attackers in self defence, they end up wanted for 'terrorism' themselves. The rest of the film follows them as they flee, and we see more murder, terrorism, betrayal, even controversial issues such as euthanasia and suicide dealt with in a painful yet sensitive way. But is it all for nothing? Can the human race be saved? Will Earth ever hear the cry of a new-born baby ever again?

Caine and Owen
The film is very real, hauntingly real, the actors, the emotions, the twists and turns all make for a gripping and chilling projection into a possible future for us, easily the best film I have seen all year- so how did it measure up to the book? Well I was surprised, I expected the book to blow me away, I expected to get lost in it and to declare it better than the film- maybe it's because I saw the film first, but I just could not get into it. Halfway through the paperback and I still hadn't met the key character, the corruption, the betrayal, the risk the thrill the adventure. I didn’t feel like the film had missed anything, glossed over anything or downplayed any key moments, only enriched them.

I would recommend the film to anyone who wants to see something credible believable and yet terrifying, and I think Curon did an amazing job of bringing a worryingly plausible story onto our screens and into the backs of our minds…

Jen is studying Creative Writing at the University of Portsmouth
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