The Mark of Excellence

Children of Men

Directed by Alfonso Cuarón

> > May 2007

Children of Men - Directed by Alfonso Cuarón
By James KeastMexican director Alfonso Cuarón’s dystopian masterpiece Children of Men may have been a little lost in the year-end madness, not receiving the critical or awards season attention it deserved, but how’s this for a consolation prize: it’s one of the few landmark efforts of modern filmmaking, a bleak vision of the present as well as the future couched in seemingly simple terms while presenting some radical, overwhelming ideas. Add in that it also features not one but several of the most amazing tracking shots in film history (yeah, I said it). The year is 2027 and after nearly two decades of human infertility the world has collapsed in helplessness and despair. Our reluctant hero is Theo (Clive Owen), who gets recruited by his ex-wife (Julianne Moore) into helping an underground resistance movement. But the surface action is a fraction of what’s going on; like following a flashlight through dank, cluttered tunnels, it’s not what’s directly in the beam’s line that terrifies it’s what lurks just beyond. In his commentary piece, philosopher Slavoj Zizek points out that background action is key to Children of Men; it’s almost too horrible and too blunt to discuss explicitly but the film’s intent, its message and its warnings are not in the action it presents but the environment it leaves as scenery. It’s as if the world’s technology moved forward five years (from now) and then decayed for the next 20. As morbid as the feature is, "The Possibility of Hope,” a featurette that looks at the political reality of the themes presented in Children of Men, is even more depressing. This is serious stuff and to its credit, the DVD’s producers have given it some weight, spending more time looking at political issues than facile cast and crew interviews. In fact, add in a dissection of that mind-boggling tracking shot and Children of Men stands as one of the best single-disc DVD issues in recent memory. The film deserves the weighty analysis and consumers can appreciate the lack of two-disc padding bullshit. Plus: deleted scenes, design featurette.
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