Piny and I will have to agree to disagree

About most of Children of Men.

The film is not necessarily a paean to parenthood and women’s often twisted role in it (piny’s thoughts regarding the fate of children and mothers in our own world are very spot-on nonetheless, please read them), I don’t think.

I saw infertility as a mere catalyst for the monstrosities that are portrayed in the film; the foundation of evil was laid long before, the world was “fucked” way before infertility set in. This becomes particularly obvious when the so-called anti-government “activists” are revealed to be opportunistic, violent blockheads beneath their self-righteous moralizing. An activist who truly cares about aiding the first woman to fall pregnant in 18 years is shot in the head by her own ideological compatriots.

There is a lot of potent symbolism in the film; from Kee’s joke about being a “virgin” (she actually slept around quite a lot, which is such a big no-no in most Hollywood boardrooms), to the fact that the gender of the first new baby is female, to the Abu Ghraib-like black hoods on the heads of detainees (“V for Vendetta” also had this).

One thing that will inevitably be criticized in a film like this is the potent image of the pregnant woman, and how tired and overdone it is. There is something to be said about that. But there is also something to be said about human biology; the pregnant woman is important because the baby inside her is also important. A man doesn’t carry the baby inside him – although he provides one-half of the effort to conceive – he’s not the one lugging the “miracle baby” around for nine months, or giving birth to it, or breastfeeding it. The image is tired, and potent, because it relates first and foremost to the nature of human beings and their reproductive capabilities. The contextualizing of pregnancy is the stuff that comes later

Anyway, my point is, I like earnest, sprawling, messy movies like this. I think they can only be sexist by virtue of the world we live in – I don’t think that they are intentionally targeting women in all the ways that conservative “action groups” target us.

Piny is right though, it is, in a way utopian; but only halfway so. Just like our best laid plans.

12 thoughts on “Piny and I will have to agree to disagree

  1. I thought the analogizing of Islamists and the French at the end was infinitely entertaining…

    I also find the idea of Britain being the last ‘haven’ in a world gone wild very amusing. V for Vendetta did it terribly and was an insult to anyone vaguely desiring change, but this movie was much better.

    As always, I’d like to point out the vast gap between the violence of the various ‘terrorist’ groups and the wholesale atrocities committed by the governing state in the name of some idiotic autocracy. Very few movies have captured that, and Children of Men is no exception. The internal murderous disputes were portrayed as central events, whereas the caging of immigrants, the massive bombardment of the internment camp (and its very existence), etc etc, were merely background material. This is quite possibly a problem with character-driven narratives as a artistic category, but that doesn’t make either movie any more convincing.

    One could argue that the ‘Human Project’ was emblematic of productive non-violence, but it was made clear in the film that it could not exist without support from revolutionary/subversive and violent groups. This is true of most real-life non-violent movements, which in turn make it clear that non-violence is far more productive as a tactic than as an ideology.

  2. Oh come on! You know I wasn’t condemning the idea of character-driven plots in general. I was merely pointing out that they tend to overemphasize small-scale or individual acts while leaving the large-scale ones as background. Therefore such plots do not lend themselves either to the study of history (re: great man theory) or to movies with political/ideological themes. History/politics/social movements are not guided by individuals, but rather by ideas and collections of people with common causes.

  3. I hate characters. Unless they’re animated and sing pretty songs. Or drive cars. who needs plots when you have singing cars?

    Chitty chitty bang bang, baby.

  4. A good film tends to constitute a rounded experience – it is not merely ideology, or cinematography, or soundtrack, or Clive Owen’s nice eyes – it’s a sum of different parts.

    I particularly like “sprawling” movies that go beyond the usual sums.

    Now if only they had more male nudity… hmm….

  5. Clive Owen gets nekkid in a movie called “Croupier”- it’s a great English flick about….a croupier. You get his eyes and his ass. The sum of those parts is a beautifully rounded experience, from top to bottom. Pun intended.

  6. and the soundtrack is pretty sweet too. And there are cars. They don’t talk, but you don’t need talking cars, a plot, or anything else when Clive Owen is nekkid. Does anyone get nekkid in “Children of Men”?

  7. Well, the miracle-mother gets half-way nekkid, but she’s preggers, so that’s just holy and sweet… Not sexual…

    I should have seen Croupier, like, 3 years ago, considering my extreme celebrity-crush on all things Owen.

  8. Natalia, I can’t believe you would tell the public about our pure and holy love. I’m so ashamed.

  9. You should be- I saw the videotape of your ‘love’. ‘Pure’ and ‘Holy’ don’t come to mind when images from the grainy film flash before my eyes. But then again, if those words came to my mind more I might not be tempted to watch so many videotapes like that…you two are hot.

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