Obscure Advent Recommendation #2: Children of Men

Children of Men - Wikipedia

OK, for our next stop on the Obscure Advent Recommendation Tour, let’s visit a slightly less obscure but definitely controversial pick: Alfonso Cuarón’s 2006 movie, Children of Men. Let’s take it as a question and answer:

  1. Haven’t you written about this before?

I thought I had! But now I can’t find anything about it aside from a mention about how haunting it was to recall in the early days of the pandemic. Maybe Instagram?

2. What’s it about?

It’s based on a novel by P.D. James. (Not as good, FIGHT ME.) The premise is that worldwide infertility is creating a world slumping into despair, unrest, and suicide. It’s 2027 (!) and a baby hasn’t been born in eighteen years. When alcoholic everyman Theo Faron is tapped to help on a desperate mission, he’ll brave the dystopian world outside to find hope for himself and the world in what one review aptly calls a Via Dolorosa.

3. That doesn’t sound like an Advent movie.

Ok, friend, that’s not a question. But to answer your non-question, an Anglican priest friend first introduced it to me, actually, as an Advent movie. Even though it’s extremely violent, it has a lot to say about hope and human frailty and the joy a birth can bring. (For instance, this post traces how Theo’s name translates to “God-bearer.) There are a lot of allusions and visual references to the religious themes — though you can also watch it as a film connoisseur (which I am decidedly not) for its famously long and complicated shots.

4. You said it’s violent?

I don’t want to understate this. It’s very hard to watch, but valuable viewing. I mean, I think it still would be. It might be kind of haunting to watch after our pandemic year.

5. How should I pair this?

If you’re watching it with people, be prepared for everyone to sort of stand up dazedly at the end of the viewing and wander away to think through it. Not a cookies-and-cocoa viewing, for sure.

The world of Children of Men
O come, o come Emmanuel, yes?

Family-friendly? ONLY LATE TEENS AND UP. This is outside edge of “hard to watch but worth it” for me. (Though I’m a bit of a weeny.)

Where to get it: It looks like you can rent it on Amazon for $3.99; I got a copy from the library without having to deploy interlibrary loan.

Obscurity level: 6/10 — not on a lot of cozy blogger mom lists of Christmas movies, but plenty of other people agree with the Advent take. (There’s a good review here.)

2 thoughts on “Obscure Advent Recommendation #2: Children of Men

  1. Oh man, I will totally fight you! The movie was such a disappointment after having read the book! There were so many more themes layered in about respect for life, corruption of power, the sinfulness of man …

    I thought it very interesting that which gender was infertile was different from movie to book. Not sure what to make of it though.


    • So while I was reading up for this piece, I came across the tidbit that Alfonso Cuaron didn’t read Children of Men before making his adaptation! So that explains a lot of discrepancies.

      I saw the movie before reading the book, so maybe that colored my impressions? The only things I missed in the film that were present in the book were a) that Theo was responsible for the death of his child (this is just so haunting) and b) the image of women walking around with strollers carrying dolls or dogs — I think of this every single time I see one of those dog strollers.

      Liked by 1 person

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