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When analyzing the film Children of Men, and simultaneously looking for a significant issue to address, I came across the question on what the true theme, or message as some would say of the movie is? To answer this from my point of view, the message isn't much of a message but more along the lines of critique on the theme of hope throughout the world, and how to understand the coming of age upon it. This critique goes along with how we discussed in class as well as on the study guides about the many religious comparisons throughout the film.
Hope also plays into this very well by showing the vital animalistic nature of the world, all the meanwhile with contrasts on the artistic nature of the world symbolizing broken hopes and dreams of society. Throughout the film, the director Alfonso Cuaron makes sure to stress on how cruel the world, as well as people have become since the version of an apocalypse has happened with the sudden case of infertility throughout the world.
From the symbol of the infertility of mankind, it portrays as a metaphor for the loss of innocence and an ideal hope for the future of mankind.
People lose hope in this world or have already lost it due to how susceptible it is, this is stressed upon when Baby Diego the youngest human on the planet at the age of 18 is murdered and the entire world mourns his passing. Along with this, for the main character of Theo who doesn't seem to care at all for Diego's death, and this helps add to his character on just having no hope for the world anymore.
Theo grew to have this view of life also because of him and his wife Julian losing his son Dylan due to a flu pandemic only a year before the global infertility epidemic occurred. Theo has resorted to drinking and doing drugs to somewhat numb the pain and just have a simple easy way to spend the rest of his days on the planet.
The symbolization of hope is also displayed when shown with the various characters that interact with Theo as well, for example with Theo's cousin Nigel, who is a government minister; Nigel runs a government sponsored museum and safe haven of various artwork mostly all for himself. The importance of this is that for Nigel's character it helps him not just save artwork to be remembered and refurbished, but it helps Nigel recall to himself the history of the world, which helps him forget about the troubles of the world. This point is emphasized when Theo asks him how he manages to keep such an upbeat mentality and good mood even with the impending wipeout of civilization, and Nigel states he simply doesn't think about it at all.
To help also emphasize this in a much subtler way, in this scene as Theo and Nigel talk, the viewer can see out the window a floating pig by the power station towers, this is to help be an allusion to Pink Floyd's album Animals, which the theme of the album was to signify the bands broken hopes and dreams throughout their career. It may be only a sly tip Cuaron added into the movie for artistic analysis, but it does help emphasize his theme. Throughout the film, the aura of the film is that the world is entirely lost, and despair consists within the world. With the refugees being separated and discriminated against, as well as wartime happening between “The Fishes”, the British Government, and many opposing gangs and rioters, the world consists of a hellish environment.
The symbolism of the loss of these ideals happens as many now think that all areas of war, plague, discrimination, death, and destruction are all part of an everyday life, and that many prefer not doing anything to stop it, let alone care about it either. Society's mindset is that the world is over already, and there's nothing they can do about it anyways. The savagery of the world is displayed especially with how refugees are treated which helps portray the comparison between the dystopia of the film as well as the real world with debates on refugees of foreign countries having the trouble to find freedom. The sense of hope for many is gone in this world due to the discrimination against them from countries even including our own, and from this the same tensions arise and many debates and protests occur from this as well.
Director Alfonso Cuaron, decides to make sure that he laid down the allegory of religion throughout the film however to provide a solution to the loss of hope, as well as a strong comparison between the film and the bible. The references to the bible are placed numerously throughout the narrative. The journey for Theo when he ventures with Kee and Miriam from London to Bexhill to get to the Human Project ship "Tomorrow" is reminiscent of the journey of Nazareth to Bethlehem in the birth of Christ as well. To go along with that there is the comparison between Kee and Mother Mary, who both venture into a barn at some point in their journey and give birth in horrible conditions to a child who many would consider a messiah or gift to the world, whether it be by Kee's child or Jesus of Nazareth.
The most vital scene in the film in the birth of Kee's child helps provide a final comparison to the birth of Christ as well as a message of how pure the world could possibly be if they attempted to be. When the child is born and Kee and Theo begin their descent from the apartment with the child crying in her arms all the shooting and wartime ceases. Many are in awe of the fact that for the first time in 18 years a child has been born, and to a refugee none the less. Kee begins to also be surrounded by many refugees who calmly touch her and try to gently touch the baby as a form of blessing. Many refugees in this shot which is a long take to help provide the grace of the scene, expose themselves from hiding risking their lives to try to touch the baby.
The comparison for this would be between the refugees and the shepherds who were the first to see the child, showing that the ones most in need of help or the most civil ones were the ones lucky enough to touch or see the child and receive that apparent blessing. Along with that both soldiers and anarchists in The Fishes all cease fire to protect the child and allow Theo and Kee to safely leave the area before fighting commences again. This whole scene portrays that sense of the good in human nature no matter the situation. Theo also helps with similarities to Jesus, with his character being non-violent even with the use of guns reoccurring throughout the story. Theo's journey helps show Cuaron's idea that society will save itself from its own destruction. This is foreshadowed to early in the film in Jasper's statement of the importance of people having faith.
Jasper states that its vital that human civilization decides whether for people to believe in blind chance in how their lives turn out, or that people decide their own futures themselves. Theo's character is almost forced into this journey at the beginning of the film till he feels that he is relegated to help after Julian's death as well as the reveal of Kee's pregnancy. Theo's comparisons also help due to the fact he is surrounded by animals throughout the film. The animals help provide various signs throughout the film, along with how pigs were discussed earlier they also too help symbolize topics. One example would be the inclusion of cows in the barn scene, which helps fit the setting as well as moment in the stories progression as cows are a sign of fertility throughout life. A second example would be of this would be with the various dogs in the film which also compare with how pure they are and loyal.
Dogs in the film only accompany people who the viewer is to perceive as true good-hearted people to show the trustworthiness of them. This is also meant to contrast how many humans or refugees in the movie are caged like animals, while the actual ones roam free. In the essence of animals as well, the terrorist like group called The Fishes is help with the analogy between animals. In the history of Christianity, Fishes are known to be a symbol to identify followers of the faith, and in the film, it can be debated that fishes are a symbol to show the dangers of following a strict structure to a religious like message. The group in the film uses their message of faith as reasoning to commit the atrocious terroristic actions that happen in the narrative.
The last comparison with Theo being a Christ-like figure is when his death occurs at the end of the film. When Theo and Kee finally get on the boat to venture to the ship, “Tomorrow”, Kee notices blood in the boat thinking its hers when its Theo who is bleeding from his side from a vital wound. Theo reveals it's his blood and that he sacrificed his life to protect Kee, and dies from the loss of blood. As a final symbolism compared to how Jesus died via a spear to the side, as well as a name symbolism to the name Theo, which is a root from the Greek word of Theos which means God. Finally, for the ship "Tomorrow" this helps solidify the theme of the movie of hope, as well as provides a question to the audience on if the world can hope again.
The ship Tomorrow is meant to signify a better tomorrow for the world and with Kee and her child being able to make it to the ship it helps provide that very question as well as a recall for the entire journey to the end. With Theo, completing his journey to get Kee to safety purely based on a drive of hope for a better world as well as helping keep his loyal word to Julian's wishes. Even with the aura of uncertainty with Kee believing that her and the child are safe, the ship is still very far in the distance which could portray to the audience that there is still a sense of uncertainty to the journey, but Kee has the sense of hope that finally they are safe from any danger.
In conclusion, this film does address the issues of how it's a critique somewhat on hope and faith throughout the world, but at the same time portrays that inevitable human-like nature to it to show the power of hope as well. The film doesn't just provide a story for the audience, it wants people to understand the important messages that the director includes to leave it up to themselves to make their own opinions on how the film should be viewed as. Once again reiterating Jasper's comments early in the film that it's important for people to decide whether their lives are driven by chance or if it's not about how the future looks like it could be, but that it's how we shape the future ourselves.
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