I was intrigued. They said: "Shantih, Shantih, Shantih." During two separate pivotal scenes in the futuristic thriller Children Of Men, two different characters uttered these strange words that sounded to me like a chant from some eastern religion….Hinduism, Buddhism? I googled them up and found that was indeed the case. (The answer is Hinduism). Not only are these words significant in the upanishads or Hindu scripture I was also reminded by my research that they are the three very last words of T.S. Eliot's "The Wasteland." How very appropriate! Because the world as we know it in Children of Men is but a wasteland….a wasteland where man can no longer reproduce… a world approaching the end of days where dirty bombs, nuclear warfare, torture and pestilence are the every day.
What would the world be like if we lost our ability to procreate? The obvious---with 100% infertility rates the future of mankind is sure extinction. In the film "Children Of Men" based on the novel by PD James and now available on DVD, writer/director Alfonso Cuaron makes this seemingly unlikely premise a horrifying reality. We see and feel intensely what it is like to live in a withering world. The year is 2027….just 20 short years from now. The world has collapsed and we are told Britain alone "soldiers on." I did not have the benefit of having read James' book, so I cannot make typical book-to-film comparisons, but it comes as no surprise to this viewer that Cuaron et al's screenplay was nominated this year for an Academy Award.
In the film we see a Britain completely overrun by illegal immigrants who seek shelter in this country whose ability to provide basic food and shelter for its citizens remains relatively in tact vis a vis what was once the modern world. The world's last baby born in 2009 (Famous Baby Diego) is senselessly murdered at the tender age of 18 sending Britain's populace deeper into despair. No one knows why man can no longer procreate. A secret think tank of scientists and other intellectuals known as The Human Project (which throughout the film we're not certain really even exists) apparently is unable to solve the infertility problem. Is it God punishing man for the destruction of our planet? Is it pollution, gamma rays, genetic experiments? No one is quite sure. But imagine a world where we no longer can hear the laughter of children and where all of our playgrounds and schools stand hauntingly empty.
With millions of aliens seeking shelter in Britain, its borders remain closed, the Chunnel is closed. Signs and government announcements are everywhere encouraging British citizens to turn in all illegal immigrants to law enforcement. The government, which is basically now a police state, is hording illegals (many from Europe as well as from other parts of the world) into cages and busing them off to refugee camps reminiscent of Nazi Germany. The viewer cannot help but make the obvious comparisons to the hot topic of illegal immigration in the United States today with this theme intensified by the knowledge that Cuaron the film's award winning director is Mexican. Fighting the British government's zero immigration tolerance is a group called the Fishes led by radical activist Julian played by Julianne Moore. The Fishes had been engaging in acts of terrorism in a futile attempt to secure basic human rights for all illegals with their struggle culminating in a popular and very bloody uprising against the State.
Surrounded by total despair, with people jumping from windows and government supplied suicide kits--- there is a beacon of hope when a young black "fugee" named Kee becomes pregnant. In a nutshell, the movie is the story of Theo Faron, a numb government worker played very convincingly by Clive Owen, who gets recruited by his ex-wife Julian to escort the very pregnant Kee to a safe haven to be provided by the mysterious Human Project. The film is a dramatic race against time to keep this pregnant woman safe amidst the backdrop of a war in the streets between the government and the Fishes. What we feel as more and more people become aware of this miracle pregnancy is nothing short of the second coming of Christ with Kee a prostitute unsure of the baby's paternity our next Mary. Kee, played very sweetly by Claire-Hope A s h it e y, comes up with some whimsical names for the coming baby ---Froley for a boy or Bazouka for a girl. But in the end she gets it right.
Also worthy of mention is Michael Caine's performance as Jasper, an affable ageing political cartoonist and close friend of our protagonist Theo Faron. I read on IMDB that Caine modeled his performance after John Lennon. I enjoyed Caine's Jasper who brings a bright spot in an otherwise sea of darkness and chaos.
I believe Children of Men is a must see. The film reminds us with vivid pictures of a devastated society why we must fight terrorism now to protect the foundations of western civilization for the future. It also illustrates why it is critical to find the right response to the mounting and troublesome problem of illegal immigration in our own country.
I also learned something very spiritual from watching this film. I learned a beautiful Hindu prayer for peace--- "Aum Shanti Shanti Shanti" which according to my quick internet research on Wikipedia is "the call for tranquility, for divine stillness, for Peace everlasting." Amen.
LISAED RATING: DEFINITELY WORTH SEEING
Children Of Men (2006); Run Time 109 Minutes; now available on DVD