The Children of Men: Hope lies in doom
Based on the novel The Children of Men by PD James, the film Children of Men (2006) directed by Alfonso Cuaron basically follows the main story in the novel while creating some significant changes in the characters. The most important adaption in the film is the change of Jasper and his wife who represent the older people in the world during the infertility. In his film, they are the key characters that Cuaron uses to reflect theme of the film: the question of faith and chance and the irony of the cruel reality of the world they live in. Cuaron bases on the fundamental aspects depicted on the novel and expand these concepts in order to develop the theme of the movie. It is arguably evident that the movie serves to comment the dominant problems that are facing the world in the modern times including racism, infrastructure destruction, an increase in terrorist activities, environmental problems and government oppression. Such a situation is characterized by hopelessness in the future. The bleak future is noted infertility of men, resulting to the end of civilization due to cruelty and despair; a situation whereby there is no child born. The movie leaves out the suicides, the carrying out of fake dolls to represent babies, baptizing of kittens and the treatment issued to the immigrants. Another notable deviation from the novel is that the movie highlights the increasing cases of miscarriages, resulting to a situation whereby infertility is being directed to the males and more equilateral. The ultimate difference between the novel and the movie rests on the role assigned to Theo, who is not a hero in the novel. The movie depicts Theo as a reluctant hero. For instance, this is evident by the manner in which the movie depicted the death of Theo’s daughter as an accident, while in the Novel Theo is depicted as killing his daughter.
In the novel, Jasper is just a very ordinary old man who kills himself after losing his hopes for life; his death also coincidentally offers Theo and the Fishes with the care and necessities they need to get Julian to safety. In the film, however, Cuaron makes a new definition of Jasper. His true value is not only reflected as a plot device, but also as the key to the meaning of film. In Cuarón’s film, Jasper is essential to understanding ideas about humanity, which mainly centers on the existence of human kind in the future. When Theo, Mariam and Kee are at the Jasper’s house, the conversation between Jasper and Mariam is the most meaningful part in the film where we begin to think about the contradiction between faith and the reality that challenges your faith. In order for the following dialog to mean something to your reader we need to know a bit more about Miriam and Kee. Who are they? Why are they at Jasper’s house?
– Jasper (continuing): So, you’ve got faith over here, right, and chance over there.
– Mariam: Like yin and yang.
– Jasper: Sort of.
– Mariam: Or Shiva and Shakti.
– Jasper: Lennon and McCartney.
The conversation is valuable because Theo is actually listening at the other side of the room. The death of Julian, who was the subject of the conversation affected Theo’s character at that moment, which influences his behavior later on, his dedication to protect Kee even he needs to sacrifice himself. From Theo’s perspective, he may not think about why and the question of faith so much. He may even not try to struggle but just let himself be lost in the world where everyone seems to have given up his or her hopes or interests in the beautiful life. He drinks and gambles, becoming the typical person that lost himself in the deteriorating world. We can see that Jasper’s emotional support for Theo far outweighs the material support. We first meet Jasper when Theo goes to visit him after the explosion in the café and Jasper is his mentor. Usually the insider would get confused and it is the outsider could see clearly and give advice to the insider. The insider is usually caught up in the problem and does not have an overview of the problem, while the outsider is the person who is not necessarily part of the problem and can offer a comprehensive overview of the problem. Theo is the insider who is confined in the negative environment around him and Jasper is the outsider that enlightens him. As Theo stands in the scene where Theo is looking at the picture of Julian and Dylan:
– Jasper: You see, Theo’s faith lost out to chance. So, why bother if life’s going to make its own choices?
– Mariam (still looking at the photo): Watcha! Baby’s got Theo’s eyes.
– Jasper: Yeah.
– Mariam: Oh, boy. That’s terrible. But, you know, everything happens for a reason.
The dialogue helps in bringing forth the main theme in the movie. Is it the faith that determines our lives, or the chance? What Jasper infers is true. If we let the chance dominate our lives, why we bother struggle to hold on our faith. We can see from the film that Jasper has his strong faith; his faith to his love Janis; his faith to the free country life; his faith to scarify himself to save Theo and his faith to humor even in the last few minutes in his life. Jasper based on his faith to accept the state of affairs. But Theo is different. He is defeated by the chance because of the death of his child Dylan whom he used to put his belief on. At the first, he has no other choices but agree to get a passport for Kee, partly because he wants the money or he wants to rebuild the relationship with Julian. However, when we see his tears at the simple burial rite for Julian later on, we believe that his decision to help Kee is redemptive. It is redemption for his faith he holds before, the faith he used to put in Dylan. Besides, the firing and the explosions are the straightforward representation of the susceptibility of faith to chance. Julian used to hold a faith that they can solve the problem with the government in peace. But the faith is again defeated by the crucial reality when the government takes away their dignity.
Together with the problem of faith and chance held by Jasper in Cuarón’s film, is the irony to the complex world that we can see from Jasper’s wife Janis. The close-up of her photos and posters reveals her past of protesting the Iraq War and being tortured by the government. And at the place where Mariam is pulled out of the bus in the refugee camp, the dolly shot captures the scene of people being tortured outside the bus. Their heads are wrapped by black bags and they all face to one direction and are on their knee. It reminds us of the picture of American soldiers torturing the Iraqi. The small details Cuaron adds to the film may not be so apparent but definitely make the film more significant in questioning the public on drawbacks of human nature. Under the long shot of the refugee camp, even Baghdad is like a paradise. The only thing that is considered good out of a world characterized by poverty, insanity and violence is the birth of a baby. Everyone tries to touch the baby and every soldier stops to look at the baby. But it is only a second. The most moving moment in the film ends up with the most heartbreaking scene when they start firing again when the baby is away. For most of them, we do believe, have lost their faith and have surrendered to the harsh truth that human civilization is dying.
In the end of the film, Theo and Kee finally escape from the refugee camp and get to the place they could meet the Human Project. But Theo dies because he gets shot when he wants to protect Kee from Luke. But his death is worthy, not for the safety of children of men, but for the redemption of his belief that died with
Dylan. Kee is safe and we still keep the hope for the survival of humanity. This poses significant concerns as to whether humanity can continue trusting on the faith or that their survival is solely determined by chance. The future of humanity as depicted in the not clear at the end of the film owing to the fact that it does not base on either faith or chance. As it is said in the film, “The future is a thing of the past”. But what we do gain is a more hopeful final scene than we have in the novel because Cuaron uses Jasper as a model to tell us to keep our faith even if we are doomed.
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