33. Children of Men

Of course illegal immigration is issue No. 1 in the hopeless near-future envisioned by Children of Men. The film begins with news stories about mass roundups and deportations. Sieges. A heartless and heavily armed system of buses and camps backdrops the entire adventure. It’s Trump’s dream.

The year is 2027. No babies have been born for two decades. Despair is set. Chaos reigns. (New York City was possibly nuked.) The movie takes place in a hyper-militarized UK, where “fugees” from decimated countries literally fight the government that wants them out.

The film is a hero’s journey, through the fight, for Theo (Clive Owen), a jaded former activist who agrees to help his ex-wife smuggle the first pregnant woman in 18 years out of the country. It all goes so terribly.

The sumptuous and action-packed long takes are director Alfonso Cuarón’s trademark (see Gravity), and Owen is a gutsy lead, but the backdrop is what matters. Great science fiction has something to say – watching Children of Men is like reading 1984, with its nightmare vision of where surveillance and perpetual war might take us. If wars spread, refugees will need homes. Trump voters, and their ilk, won’t like that.

Hunched and firing a rifle at army soldiers, Luke (Chiwetel Ejiofor!) yells to Theo: “How can it be peaceful, when they try and take your dignity?!”

What? You’re about to get blown up by a tank for your dignity. That could only be a man’s attitude.

Is it offensive to say women are nice? That mothers might be less inclined to shoot someone? The women glow in Children of Men. They braid each other’s hair and snuggle with the precious baby. They are kindness, surrounded by murderous stupidity.

Trump is more mannish – in the worst way, grabbing pussies and acting all tough-guy – than Cheney, Assad, or Putin. He’s exactly the leader Children of Men warned us about in 2006. Stoking fear over immigrants is how he started.

I hope through the soles of my feet and out into the earth that Hillary wins today. Let’s let a woman drive. Maybe the world can still stop getting worse.

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