Movie Review: Children of Men

[Warning: Minor, vague spoiler in last sentence of 3rd paragraph.]

I’m finally getting around to reviewing a movie I saw for the first time on dvd a couple of weeks ago. I’ll keep this brief.

Children of Men is an interesting dystopian film set in a near-future fascist Britain. The country has traded freedom for “security,” has closed its borders to immigrants and systematically rounds them up into concentration camps and deports or exterminates them. It is a world beset by terrorism, of the Islamic fundamentalist variety and others.

The premise of the movie, however, is such a stretch that it makes it hard for one to maintain adequate suspension of disbelief. Suddenly and inexplicably over a very short span of time (a few years maybe?) the entire female sex of the human race becomes infertile. Then, just as suddenly and inexplicably, a group of resistance fighters discovers a pregnant woman. Much of the movie is their attempt to smuggle her out of the country.

Though the premise is rather far-fetched, the movie makes interesting use of it for social analysis. With no possibility of children, the extinction of the human race is not far off. Hope for the future seems lost. What effect will this loss of hope have on individuals and on society as a whole? The movie does a good job of dramatizing this on both levels.

There is nothing especially libertarian about the movie, although its depiction of fascism serves as a note of warning. Even the resistance group, or at least certain members of it, can be rather brutal and extreme. The movie has a distinctly British/European sensibility, or so I thought. And though very dark, it does end with a weak and vague ray of hope. The hope, however, is a rather collectivist hope for humanity as a species. There is not much for individuals currently living during the time of the movie to look forward to, but at least the human race just might survive a little longer, provided we can get our acts together.

I did enjoy the movie, and the main actors turned out good performances. Clive Owen. Julianne Moore. I was happy to see Chiwetel Ejiofor, who did such a wonderful job as the chilling government assassin in Serenity, as one of the resistance fighters; and he turned out a fine performance here as well.

Given the caveats above, however, I was not especially moved by the movie, nor did I fall in love with it. Watching one of the documentaries included on the dvd kind of soured the movie for me actually. It is here that we get to see more clearly than in the movie the collectivist and environmentalist agenda that underlies and drives it. One “expert” featured in the documentary caught my attention in particular: former libertarian-turned-green-conservative, John Gray. No, I don’t think John Gray’s come back from the Dark Side yet.

Geoffrey is an Aristotelian-Libertarian political philosopher, writer, editor, and web designer. He is the founder of the Libertarian Fiction Authors Association. His academic work has appeared in Libertarian Papers, the Journal of Libertarian Studies, the Journal of Value Inquiry, and Transformers and Philosophy. He lives in Greenville, NC.

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