Alfonso Cuaron's adaptation of the 1992 novel by P.D. James is rightfully hailed as one of the best dystopian films made in any era. It deftly handles themes such as hope in the face of overwhelming despair, redemption from a state of indifference/desolation and the critical importance of childbearing to society's fabric.
Although it eschews some of the novel's intriguing commentary on faith/religion in a secular world and its relation to an authoritarian state, the film's stripped-down narrative is just as emotionally gripping and rewarding as its source material.
In addition to its narrative merits, the film's technical accomplishments are just as impressive, and they played a role in making the film as enduring as it is. Its production design creates an instantly tangible depiction of a dystopic London (and surrounding environs) as one that is dour yet uncomfortably familiar.
Furthermore, its steely cinematography captures the global plight at hand and the use of single shot action sequences is an inspired choice that does not feel intrusive or ostentatious. With all these moving parts in place, one would be forgiven for missing important details about the film even after all these years. Hopefully, this list will enlighten those who read it and strengthen their admiration for it.
20. The Real World Inspiration Behind The Film's Aesthetic
It is only fitting that Cuaron wanted to shoot Children of Men like a documentary, forgoing traditional/stylized means to capture the events onscreen in favour of uneasy, handheld camera work and as much natural lighting as possible.
One of his greatest sources of inspiration came in the form of the 1966 seminal war film, The Battle of Algiers. The main reason for this was the film’s grounded approach left an indelible mark on the director and subsequently influenced the film's visual style, specifically its set pieces.
The film's famed long takes (especially its climactic oner in the Bexhill refugee camp) have a naturalistic feeling that is reminiscent of the 1966 film's more frenzied shooting style despite these takes being inherently cinematic in nature (and feeling more staged as a result).
To some degree, both films share similar socio-political undertones so it is only fitting that Cuaron would look to such a seemingly unlikely source of inspiration to film a dystopian story.