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Tomorrow Never Knows: The Possibility of Hope in a Wasteland of Infertility. Cinema often puts forth characters who, like Christ, become martyrs for the salvation and the cleansing of all those present in the film’s universe. Whether you look at the Iron Giant or Paul Newman in Cool Hand Luke; this notion of these characters being Christ figures becomes apparent through the director’s use of motifs and symbolism in each film respectfully. In Alfonso Cuaron’s apocalyptic adaption of “Children of Men”, he manages to add the protagonist Theo Faron among the many who serve as messiahs in film.
As Theo progresses into becoming a Christ figure, he ultimately uncovers that faith can be conceived even in a world of despair and infertility.
The film begins by thrusting Theo into London in 2027, just as the world is mourning the death of the last child to have been born. Immediately the audience is faced with the grim reality that the world is in complete turmoil and despair and hope seems to be diminishing with every death that occurs.
Not only is the world plagued with infertility, suicide kits are being provided (Quietus) to “peacefully” escape the violence that surrounds the film. In the middle of this all is Theo who seems to have fallen victim to this sense of helplessness.
Although we soon come to know that this loss of faith only occurred after the death of his son. Before becoming embedded in the monotony of his life, Theo was a political activist alongside his wife Julian played by Julianne Moore.
Their child Dylan, was ultimately a product of their faith; of hope in general. In the scene where Theo, Kee, and Miriam reach Jasper’s after the escape from the Fishes’ farm Jasper says, “Theo’s faith lost out to chance. So why bother if life’s going to make its own choices?” The death of their child becomes the reason why Theo loses his faith. And Kee’s child, the first in 18 years, mirrors that same faith so much that before Theo’s death she chooses to name her child Dylan.
However by the end of the film, Theo undergoes both a spiritual and literal journey almost identical to that of Jesus Christ. From London to the ocean of Bexhill with Kee, it echoes the voyage the Virgin Mary traversed from Nazareth to Bethlehem in order to give birth to Jesus. To begin with Theo’s name is derived from the Greek language and is in direct translation with God. Even at his origin he too seemed destined to bring forth a variation of salvation to his dystopian world. And throughout the movie, Cuaron systematically sprinkles religious allusions as well as continued comparisons between Theo and Jesus.
In every scene of the film, an animal is in frame at least once. Whether it be a dog or a flock of sheep, the inclusion of animals as well as how attracted they are to Theo attests to how trustworthy and good hearted he is. More specifically in the scene when they leave the safe house to try to get to the boat, the flock of sheep blatantly cross right in front of Theo and Kee. Continuing with the Christ like transformation, we see Theo as the shepherd leading Kee, the lamb, to safety. This transformation can be seen as beginning when he is captures by the Fishes on the order of Julian. They interrogate him in a room with flood lights obscuring his sight.
But Julian allows them to be turned off to allow Theo to see, and forego a rebirth and enlightenment to begin his journey. His character shuns any form of violence even when he is constantly surrounded by an all-out war. He refuses to use weapons and while the Fishes discuss what to do with Kee’s baby, Theo is the only one who opts to not use her baby as a “flag” or “weapon”, but instead rather wants make sure that they’re safe. Another way he echoes Christ is just by his feet alone. The visual progression of the shoes he wears show a similar ideal of stripping off these vices from his life allowing him to become even more Christ like. He begins with dress shoes and ultimately ends up wearing blood soaked sandals.
Further symbolism lies with the cleansing of his feet when they all arrive to Jaspers. In several passages in the Bible, Jesus is known for both having his feet washed and anointed as well as doing the same for his followers. Before Kee’s baby is born, Theo fully discards the vices in his life; the warmth of a coat to clean up the blood of the birth, pouring out his liquor to sterilize his hands, and giving away his cigarettes (which ironically he never gets to finish even one throughout the movie). He rids himself of the despair of the world that has sunken into him and ultimately is granted the power to bring forth the salvation by assisting in the birth of Dylan.
One of the heaviest comparisons of Theo becoming a Christ figure comes at the last scene of the film when Kee and Theo are on the boat and they realize that Theo was shot and is bleeding from the side. As Christ was nailed to the cross, the Roman guards stabbed him to make sure was dead and from his wound poured out blood and water. The significance lies behind the fact that Theo’s blood washed itself on the ocean that would lead to the salvation of Kee and Dylan, but as well as what their salvation stands for; the faith of humanity for the Tomorrow to come.
The final comparison is what ultimately leads to Theo’s death. In the scene shortly after having elected a new leader to be the figure head of the Fishes, (again the religious allusion he being that Luke was elected) and Kee revealing her pregnancy to Theo in the manger, they all gather together in the dining room to discuss what to do with Kee. This entire scene draws parallels to Jesus’ last supper. Luke ultimately becomes the betrayer to Theo and Kee just as Judas betrays Jesus. In certain frames as well, 12 people can be seen in the room with Theo being the 13th. In all its cinematic glory, Cuaron does what he’s renowned for by using his long single shot sequences lasting about 6 minutes, which has Luke shooting Theo right at the end of it.
When broken down, Cuaron both explicitly and implicitly draws from countless religious allusions and parallels in order to create a character which can find faith in a world filled with none. Theo’s last words in the film at literally “Jesus”. He goes on this journey with Kee not only to bring her into this new Tomorrow, but to usher in the salvation that the birth of this baby may have. When looking deeper into the meanings of the names we only have to look at Theo’s again. Being that Theo is translated into God, the fact that the baby serves as a mirror for Dylan it becomes the son of God. Throughout the film various characters serve as martyrs for what they believe in. Sacrificing themselves for the safety and safe passage of others. Even in death, he still hasn’t finished a cigarette, but finds the faith and hope that this baby will cleanse this world.
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