A Note on Children of Men

by Daniel Hartley

Much has been written and said about Alfonso Cuarón’s Children of Men, based on P. D. James’ 1992 novel of (almost) the same name. Perhaps the most entertaining example is Žižek’s YouTube appraisal of the film. Wiki gives a nice summary:

Set in the United Kingdom of 2027, the film explores a grim world in which two decades of global human infertility have left humanity with less than a century to survive. Societal collapse, terrorism, and environmental destruction accompany the impending extinction. Meanwhile, the United Kingdom—perhaps the last functioning government—persecutes a seemingly endless wave of illegal immigrant refugees seeking sanctuary. In the midst of this chaos, Theo Faron (Clive Owen) must find safe transit for Kee (Claire-Hope Ashitey), a pregnant African “fugee” (refugee).

Clearly, if you haven’t seen the film, you’ll already appreciate how bleak it appears. But what added to the general gloom for me was the figure of Jasper Palmer (played by Michael Caine), an old satirical cartoonist and hippy. In fact, it was precisely this that bothered me about him: he’s a hippy. The film in itself, as Žižek explains, is radical enough – I’m not disputing that – but is it not depressing that the current generation is so uninspiring that our political imagination has to project on to the future a figure from the 60s that was only ambiguously radical in the first place?