Children of Men is essentially a movie about hope. The main character, Theo Faron, played by Clive Owen, is a former activist who has since resigned himself to the state of the world. The world itself, set 20 years into the future, is one that has lost hope itself. Eighteen years earlier, across the globe, women became sterile, and the future of the human race was lost. It is into this world that Theo’s fate becomes entwined with Kee, the first pregnant woman in many years. The formerly cynical and mundane Theo suddenly comes to life in his pursuit to get Kee to a place of safety, away from those who would exploit her for their own ends.
Children of Men is not an exciting movie, nor is it all that satisfying, but it’s not really meant to be. It is more of a snapshot of the human struggle to simply live in a decaying society. As is becoming more common in film, Theo is the unlikely hero, and can scarcely be called that, if we compare him to the almost otherworldly heroes we see in so many films. Personally, I am more a fan of the unwilling hero and the anti-hero. I’ve heard the type denounced as unheroic, liberal, and as overall a sad statement on our society. I disagree. We say that normal people can be heroes, yet want grand heroes to look up to. Theo is the disillusioned activitist who decides to go along with the flow, at the expense of his soul. He initially goes along for the money and a bit of the spark he had with a women years earlier. There is a great dialogue given by Theo’s dad, Jasper, about faith and chance:
Jasper: Everything is a mythical, cosmic battle between faith and chance.
Jasper: So. You’ve got faith over here, right? And chance over there.
Jasper: Julian and Theo met among a million protestors in a rally by chance. But they were there because of what they believed in in the first place, their faith. They wanted to change the world. And their faith kept them together. But by chance, Dylan was born.
Kee: [picks up another photo] This is him?
Jasper: Yeah, that’s him. He’d have been about your age. Magical child. Beautiful. Their faith put in praxis.
Miriam: “Praxis”? What happened?
Jasper: Chance. He was their sweet little dream. He had little hands, little legs, little feet. Little lungs. And in 2008, along came the flu pandemic. And then, by chance, he was gone. You see, Theo’s faith lost out to chance. So, why bother if life’s going to make its own choices?
The film is even-handed, showing both the government and rebels equally flawed. Towards the end, there is a wonderful scene where everyone is human, if only for a few minutes, as Theo plays out his role as the quiet, unlikely hero, a man choosing to risk his life for a life. I won’t dilute that statement by calling him a Christ-figure. That’s the easy way out. Then again, Jesus is in some ways an anti-hero, is he not?