Children of Men
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The following FAQ entries may contain spoilers. Only the biggest ones (if any) will be covered with spoiler tags. Spoiler tags have been used sparingly in order to make the page more readable.

For detailed information about the amounts and types of (a) sex and nudity, (b) violence and gore, (c) profanity, (d) alcohol, drugs, and smoking, and (e) frightening and intense scenes in this movie, consult the IMDb Parents Guide for this movie. The Parents Guide for Children of Men can be found here

In a war-torn and famine-ridden future Britain where women have, for some reason, been rendered sterile and there have been no children born in over 18 years, an illegal African refugee named Kee (Clare-Hope Ashitey) becomes pregnant. Since the British government and an immigrant rights group known as The Fishes are at war with each other and refugees are being rounded up and imprisoned, Julian Taylor (Julianne Moore), one of the leaders of The Fishes, asks her ex-husband Theo Faron (Clive Owen) to help Kee and her unborn child flee the UK.

Children of Men is loosely adapted from The Children of Men (1992), a novel by English crime fiction writer, P.D. James.

Near the end of the second act, while waiting for Syd in the abandoned school, Miriam tells about her job as a midwife more than 20 years ago. She specifically tells about noticing a sudden onset of miscarriages in women who were already 5 or 6 months into their pregnancies. They managed to save a few of the babies. After that, the miscarriages started even sooner, and finally, no new pregnancies occurred any longer. Miscarriages are much more frequent in early pregnancies, since they are often the result of a developmental defect or fetal malformation. That could be due to a defect in either the female egg or the male sperm. But when a significant number of women started to miscarriage in late pregnancy, and some of the babies managed to survive, this must have been a strong indication that there was nothing physically wrong with the babies, only in the women's ability to carry the pregnancy to full term. In other words, conception of a fetus may not have been the problem, the rejection of the fetus by its mother's body was.

Technically, this wouldn't completely rule out that the problem lies with the men: if the sperm is defective, this could hypothetically cause unknown problems with the fetus that would eventually lead to miscarriage, even months later. But as the infertility crisis started gradually, it may have not have affected all the women in the world at the same time. So the scientists probably cross-checked their theories with results from spontaneous observations. For example, a man unable to father a child in a country that was affected early, but being perfectly able to conceive a healthy child with another woman in an unaffected part of the world, would make a strong case. Artificial fertilization would make it even more convincing: if sperms from the same father were used to fertilize eggs from different mothers, and there would be different results in live births, that would be the best proof to the hypothesis that women are becoming infertile, and not the men. This could fit very well with a failing phytoplankton, failing oxygen sernario of global warming where oxygen depletion would significantly impact the ability for an embryo to carry to term as described. This can be explored in "physiological and evolutionary mechanisms of fertility at high altitude" or High-altitude adaptation in humans where mutations have been an example of evolutionary selection in human fertility. While global warming leading to oxygen depletion wasn't discussed in the movie, there were obvious effects of polution.

It's never made particularly clear in the film, but we know that they are a group of scientists dedicated to curing infertility, supposedly based in the Azores, that they are secretive to the point of being a myth, that they attempted to determine the reasons for the infertility outbreak, they are not allies of the UK government or the Fishes, and that they have an interest in Kee and her child, presumably a continuation of their previous research.

Theo says the word "shantih" as a salutation in one scene and the word is repeated again throughout the closing credits. Derived from the ancient Indian language Sanskrit, it means "calm, quiet, tranquility, peace". The transcription "shantih" is probably not as accurate as "shanti", the spelling favored by most scholars now. "Shantih" can also be found repeated three times at the end of T.S. Eliot's poem "The Waste Land," which is full of haunting images of a post-apocalyptic world in the present ("I will show you fear in a handful of dust"). In a footnote, Eliot explains the three words: "Repeated as here, a formal ending to an Upanishad. 'The Peace which passeth understanding' is a feeble translation of the conduct of this word." To read the entire poem, see here.

"Lord, thou hast been our refuge: from one generation to another. Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever the earth and the world were made: thou art God from everlasting, and world without end. Thou turnest man to destruction: again thou sayest, Come again, ye children of men. For a thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday: Seeing that is past as a watch in the night" - Psalm 90 (91).

"Omgyjya Switch7" by Aphex Twin. The screams were overdubbed for the film.

According to an article in accessantlanta.com, the combat scene was a single, unbroken shot which was filmed a total of three times. The final take was the one that was used in the film. In an article for VFX World, core members of the effects team for Double Negative (the primary effects vendor for the film) talk about many of the seemingly single-take shots being created using a variety of blending techniques that made the shot transitions appear seamless. They describe particular ones, including a 9-minute shot during the car/motorcycle chase scene. But they never specifically mention compositing the combat scene. According to an article in issue 110 of Cinefex, the sequence consists of six or seven shots filmed over several weeks in at least three locations: Bushey Hall in Hertfordshire, a disused Air Force base in Upper Heyford in Oxfordshire, and a studio set in Pinewood.

Director Alfonso Cuarón says: "The blood was great, but after a while it started to feel like it was on your face. It started to feel distracting." In every frame of the shot after Theo enters the building, the blood was digitally removed in post-production.

Theo, Marichka (Oana Pellea), Kee, and the baby make it to a rowboat. Marichka decides to stay behind, so Theo rows them out to the buoy where the Human Project ship, the Tomorrow, is supposed to pick them up. Kee notices blood all over the rowboat and thinks it's from her until Theo reveals that he's been shot. As they wait to be picked up, Kee tells Theo that she's going to name her daughter Dylan, after Theo's son who died in the flu pandemic. Theo then starts to slump over. In the final scene, the Tomorrow arrives, Dylan starts to whimper, and Kee says, 'We're safe now.'

Since the movie ends with the Tomorrow arriving to pick them up, no indication of what happens in the future is given. Three possibilities that have been offered by viewers include: (1) The Human Project does tests on Kee and Dylan and finds a cure for some or all women, (2) Kee's fertility proves to be a one-time freak, and the human race becomes extinct within the next century or so, and (3) Kee and her children remain fertile and repopulate the earth. In 100 years all living humans will be the descendents of Kee. Many fans of the movie have assumed that the sound of the children laughing right before the closing credits roll signifies that fertility will be restored and more children will be born in the years to come.

The director has drawn parallels to the Iraq war and specifically the torture and humiliation of prisoners at Abu Ghraib. For instance, in the scene at the deportation camp, a prisoner can be clearly seen in the background being forced to maintain a stress position while wearing a hooded mask. This is very similar to the photos of abused Abu Ghraib prisoners obtained by the ACLU. Other such parallels are sprinkled throughout for the vigilant watcher.

The film shares the basic premise and setting as the novel, as well as a number of characters including Theo, Julian, Luke (Chiwetel Ejiofor), and Miriam (Pam Ferris). However, the main plot of the film was the creation of Alfonso Cuarn, as was the character of Kee, who does not appear in the novel, partly because men are infertile in the novel, rather than women, as in the film. Theo, who is an Oxford don in the novel, is a much younger "everyman" character in the film. Theo's friend Jasper (Michael Caine) is only a minor character in the novel, while the opposite is true of Theo's archnemesis, Xan, who does not appear in the film at all. The novel also delves further into the apocalyptic British society, which is only hinted in the background of the film. There are many other minor and major differences between the novel and film, the primary one being that the film is action-driven while the novel is more character-driven. For example, the characters in the film are subjected to more external threats of violence, danger and villainy than they are in the novel, probably due to the difficulty of visually translating Theo's internal struggle with existential angst without resorting to a constant narration.

r73731


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