Just before the car is attacked, Miriam peels an orange in the back seat. Just before the refugee camp falls into chaos, Kee and Marichka share orange slices over the baby. In films, oranges often represent impending danger or tragedy. This motif is also prominently featured in The Godfather.
When Theo is walking down the ramp on Battersea Power Station, a stenciled image of two policemen kissing can be seen on a wall. The image was created by "Banksy", a British "guerilla artist" who specializes in that kind of work. Other Banksy works appear in the film, including a stenciled image of a child looking down a shop.
When Miriam is taken off the bus in the refugee camp you can hear the song "Arbeit Macht Frei" by The Libertines. "Arbeit macht frei," meaning "Work shall set you free," was written above the entrance at Auschwitz, the biggest of the Nazi death/concentration camps of World War II.
The cover of the Pink Floyd album "Animals" features a floating pig above the Battersea Power station, the "Ark of the Arts" in the film. This pig can be seen when Theo's car enters the Ark, and later when Theo speaks to his cousin. The album was released in 1977. The film is set in 2027, the LP's 50th anniversary.
Michael Caine plays an award-winning political cartoonist. In his house, you can see some of his cartoons in the background. They were drawn by Steve Bell, an award-winning political cartoonist for The Guardian newspaper.
When Miriam (Pam Ferris) is taken off the bus at Bexhill, the camera pans by several cages with prisoners inside. One of them is the infamous "hooded man" from the Abu Ghraib prison torture pictures. He is seen in the exact pose as the real pictures.
Animals like Theo. The ginger cat on Jasper's sofa, the dogs at Tomasz and Emily's farm (to which he even comments the dogs don't like anyone), and the kittens in the farm house that crawl up Theo's leg.
When we first see Julian (Julianne Moore), she is in the interrogation room with Theo. Just after she states her name as "Julian", you can see a headline behind Theo that prominently displays the word "Moore", the actress' real name.
The statue of David seen in the Ark of Arts is an existing movie prop, and it was filmed intact; however, during production, an Italian article was written about the loss of Italian cultural heritage, showing the statue with a missing leg. The idea stuck, and a part of the statue's left leg was therefore digitally removed in post-production.
Newspaper headlines throughout the film read: Raid nabs refugees' weapons cache, AFRICA DEVASTATED BY NUCLEAR FALL OUT, U.S. TROOPS FULL ATTACK, EXTREMIST EXPLOSION A RIGHT ROYAL RIP OFF: CHARLES SHOULD BE THRONE OUT, MILITIAS OCCUPY CINCINNATI, BOZEMAN & SPOKANE, CHAOS IN REFUGEE CAMPS, FERTILITY DRUG KILLS! SURGEON ARRESTED, HORMONE ATTACKS: VIOLENT REACTION, 100 Suicides: Nation in Denial, RUSSIA IN CRISIS: Massive migration, Police put mosques under surveillance, Gatherings are forbidden, BOMBING OF SAUDI PIPELINE DISRUPTS WORLD'S OIL SUPPLY (Photo by Janice Palmer), REFUGEES BLAMED FOR INCREASE IN TERROR ATTACKS (Thursday April 6th, 2018), SOUTH COAST TOWNS TURNED INTO REFUGEE CAMPS (Tuesday February 11, 2020), PM DENIES "TORTURE" OF BRITISH CITIZENS, ALLEGATIONS OF ABUSE DISMISSED AS A SHAM, DIRTY BOMB DETONATED IN MUNICH (Report by Photojournalist Janice Palmer), England bans ALL immigration completely, 25% INFERTILITY RATE (21.12.2008), Two years since last baby born, NO BABY HOPE ADMIT SCIENTISTS, WAR AND FAMINE LEAD TO MASS MIGRATION, JANICE PALMER questions Britain's ethical response to the refugee situation, MASSIVE MIGRATION, CHANNEL TUNNEL CLOSED, All foreigners now ILLEGAL, Refugees mass on Europe, MI5 DENY INVOLVEMENT IN TORTURE OF PHOTOJOURNALIST (photo of Janice Palmer. Monday 16.7.2018).
When Theo enters the dining room in Battersea power station, the large black and white mural behind him is Pablo Picasso's "Guernica." The same image is drawn on the wall of the tunnel which Theo and Kee use to escape in the rowboat. The painting was Picasso's reaction to General Francisco Franco's bombing of Guernica, Spain, the Basque capital, during the Spanish Civil War, which killed an estimated 1,600 civilians.
When Theo arrives at work in the second scene, the words 'Ministry Of Energy' are placed above the doors. This is in reference to 'George Orwell''s dystopian novel 'Nineteen-Eighty Four' which shares many of the same themes as this film. A recurring plot line in "1984" was that the government had terrifying "Ministries" for various specified functions.
The character Marichka, the gypsy woman, is played by Romanian actress Oana Pellea. However, Marichka is a Russian name and you can spot a medal of V.I. Lenin in the gypsy house. All her dialogue is spoken in Romanian. It is ad-libbed and she mainly refers to her actions or directions. There's a scene where Marichka swears at Kee when she hits her little dog. She asks Theo for a cigarette and she warns him she would come back for rent in the morning.
The cities shown in the newscast that declares "The World Has Collapsed: Only Britain Soldiers On" are, in order: Paris, Moscow, Washington, Kuala Lumpur, Tokyo, Brussels, Hong Kong, Berlin, Jakarta, New York, Stockholm, Rome, Shanghai, Caracas, Copenhagen, Mexico City, Amsterdam, Atlanta, Geneva, Marseilles, Lisbon, Seoul, Singapore, San Diego, Naples, Boston, and Antwerp. Julian mentions to a horrified Theo that her parents were in New York "when it (an unspecified catastrophe) happened". In the opening newscast, an image of a mushroom cloud can be seen hanging over New York City, in images reminiscent of 9/11, possibly due to a terrorist nuclear attack. Also, Theo and his cousin discuss another unspecified disaster that took place in Madrid, Spain.
Many of the service rifles carried by the British armed forces are the XM8 rifle. It was intended to replace current US M16/M4 variant service rifles by 2015-2020, but the US Defense Department canceled its contract with the rifle's manufacturer, Heckler & Koch, in 2005. The rifle is now considered experimental.
In the Bexhill tower block scene, Theo is wearing a London 2012 Olympics fleece. During the bidding process which ran from July 2003 to December 2005, London bid successfully to host the XXX (2012) Olympiad. Other cities that bid were Havana, Istanbul, Leipzig, Madrid, Moscow, New York, Paris, and Rio de Janeiro.
Jasper (Michael Caine) drives a Citroën CX with some plastic add-ons in the front and back. The last one was produced in 1990. Other cars in the movie are the Renault Modus, Renault Avantime, Renault Megane II, and Fiat Multipla. There is also a wreckage of a Peugeot 206. All the "newer" cars in the movie were deliberately made to look aged and battered, despite being relatively recent models.
The fighters that fly over Theo and Kee's boat to launch an airstrike on Bexhill appear to be F-35 Lightning II aircraft, a type of plane created to fit the specifications of the Joint Strike Fighter program and scheduled to enter service in 2011.
The trivia items below may give away important plot points.
The long shot when the Fiat Multipla is attacked by terrorists, with all the passengers inside, demanded a camera rig that could rotate within the car. They used a rig developed by Doggicam Systems, and controlled by a stunt driver. The single shot was shot in six takes over four locations, requiring a lot of transition work from the VFX-house Double Negative as it pans around inside the car. The cocktail, stunt driver and motorcycle (from the moment it hits the car), windshield, blood, and roof, were all computer generated with 3-D animation.
Given the story of this film (a baby representing a new hope for humanity) there are not surprisingly many references to the story of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph from the Christian Bible. Theo (whose name is the Greek root meaning "God") first sees that Kee is pregnant in a barn, among farm animals, a reference to Jesus' birth in a manger. When Theo sees her pregnancy, he swears, "Jesus Christ!" Kee jokes that she is a virgin, a reference to the Christian belief that Mary was a virgin before, during, and after her pregnancy. Theo is seen washing or soaking his feet several times during the movie; there are several references to Jesus or saints washing their feet or having them washed in the Christian Bible, and foot washing is a ritual in some Christian denominations and in Islam. The name of the 'Fishes' group is also a Christian reference. In fact, the 'fish' was one of the very first symbols in Christian art. Fish, in Greek, is spelled "IXTHYS" which served as an acronym for "Iesous Xhristos Theou Hyios Soter": I (esous = Jesus) X (ristos = Christ) TH (eou = God's) Y (ios = Son) S (oter = Saviour)
The birth of Kee's baby was achieved by putting actress Clare-Hope Ashitey into a set-piece which had a fake lower body. A prop baby was pushed out of it for Clive Owen to hold. The prop baby was later digitally erased and replaced by a fully moving CGI baby. Other effects, such as breath vapor, were also added digitally.
In an earlier version of the script, Jasper and Theo watch as Janice participates in a mass suicide organized by Quietus. Later on, Jasper lets himself get mauled by guard dogs in order to help Theo, Kee, and Miriam reach Bexhill.
At the safe house, Jasper discusses the death of Theo's son Dylan during a flu pandemic. During the scene, the soundtrack plays music from Kindertotenlieder ("Child Death Songs") by Gustav Mahler, a song lamenting the death of the artist's children.
In the movie, Theo and Julian's son Dylan died from a disease epidemic, while in the book Julian's character was the one that is pregnant and the one Theo is protecting. In the book, Theo is married and divorced Helen and had a daughter named Natalie who was killed when Theo backed out of the driveway and accidentally ran her over. Both the film and book show this death as the reason for either relationships not working. The movie changed and combined Julian and Helena while creating Kee.
Shantih, shantih, shantih," which Miriam says over Julian's dead body, Jasper says when he finds out Kee is pregnant, and appears at the very end of the credits, is the final line of T.S. Eliot's "The Wasteland," a poem that deals with the theme of infertility in the post-World War I world. Originally from the Upanishads, it roughly translates to "the peace that passes understanding."
When Patric executes the Russian man who is helping Theo and Kee to find a boat, he is singing a local Newcastle song called 'The Blaydon Races'. It starts something like 'All the lads and lasses with all their smiling faces, gannin along the Scotswood Road to see the Blaydon Races'.
The drug that is advertised throughout is not revealed to be a suicide aid until late in the movie; however, its name, "Quietus," provides a clue to its function ("quietus" is an antiquated medical name for the moment of death). It is also an allusion to William Shakespeare's Hamlet who contemplated making his "quietus" with a "bare bodkin" (unsheathed dagger) when discussing suicide.