Children of Men (2006)

“Children of Men” (2006)


Referencial cinema

This is one of the most engaging experiences i had in film world lately. Cuarón is already responsible for some strong creations, including “Y tu mama también” or the best Harry Potter feature, to my view, which was the third one (Azkaban). Nevertheless this is, to my view, his most successful accomplishment to this point. That had to do, as far as i know, with knowing the masters, the guide lights in the visual world of cinema, i mean really knowing what was the strength in their movies (more than copying the style like, say, Tarantino often does to his “references”) and using that knowledge in a personal project.

I am not such an expert in the world of films, but for what i do know, i got to “see” four masters here. So, back to the basics:

. start with Hitchcock. In his wide-known book-interview with Truffaut, Hitch praised above all the capacity for his movies to engage the audiences; in order to do that he always played with elements of the story, surprises, turn-backs, unpredictable happenings, etc. and more important, he placed his vision in filming the scenes in a way that made them fascinatingly engaging: Watch Psycho and you’ll see the death of our Julianne Moore coming at this one which is to say, much sooner than one would expect even more when we have a “star” which was “supposed” to live until the end (or close). Watch Hitch’s films especially from the “rope phase”, “dial m…” “rear window”, and you’ll find where Cuarón got much of the ideas for much of the shots, including the final idea for a “one shot sequence”, or at least, it strikes you as that.

. than we have Welles. This one, in Cuarón’s vision, completes the structure he got from Hitchcock. Watch Welles’s work when he is more clearly aims at exploring space, finding reasons to move the camera, go around the set, unknown places, in and out, etc. In other words, watch “Touch of Evil” where his reflexions on cinematic space exploration come more vivid than ever. Compare the longest shots in that project (the first sequence, and the last ones, bridge persecution, etc), and than come to this again, watch the final very long sequence, inside the prisoners camp, and observe how brilliantly Cuarón understands the possibilities Welles opened, and how well he explores those possibilities.

Than we have the reflexion portions. Cuarón gets more clumsy here, and shows a smaller perception of the masters he seeks. But it still is worth watching, and i personally understand the fact that he “rushes” things where his references would have taken longer for matters of general coherence, and pace. So here we have:

. Tarkovsky, who could as no one in film-history, place the idea of memory in front of his camera. All his work is a big, beautiful, delightful, almost orgasmic reflexion on meditation. Cuarón doesn’t get halfway through in getting to Tarkovsky in deepness and meaning (visually speaking) but there is one shot which is worth attention, the one in which the camera explores an old abandoned school and we get to here the jingle from an old rusty swinging toy where our pregnant miracle mother thinks about her life, and represents at the same time the memory she never lived in, but in which Owen’s character lived good (and happy) portions of his life;

. Leone/Morricone: the musical vocal theme is here for the same reasons the main theme from “once upon a time in the west” is there and that is to provide the audience with the same emotion and inner feelings the characters are supposed to be feeling in that moment. Leone was a genius, an absolute master in getting this effect, and his collaboration with Morricone probably has lots to do with this. Anyway, Cuarón understands Leone; so check the moments in which this theme shows up, after reviewing “once upon a time…” and you’ll understand.

The power of this film is that you are able to enjoy it as a piece on its own, and still, afterwards (and during it) identify the references. I admire people who can dignify the masters they admire. Watch this.

Trivia: Oh and i couldn’t stop noticing. One more use in cinema of the Battersea Power Station, London. This case has two particular aspects:

. It is used as an Art Ark, place for gathering works of art that survive the chaos. We see one of them through the window while Owen’s character is inside and that is the flying pig from Pink Floyd’s animals, which was at the cover of that album exactly in that position. Animals was loosely based in Orwell’s work Animal Farm. Orwell also wrote 1984, which, when adapted to cinema, was partly shot in the same Battersea station. 1984 described a world of oppression, hopeless future, partly close to this one (oh and when Owen gets in that ark the space is in fact Tate Modern, reconstruction of another factory by the same architect of Battersea) . The other aspect is that in a street shot we get as soundtrack King Crimsons famous progressive song. This is a band from that 70’s period, of which Pink FLyod came out the most famous and successful. This is, to my view, interesting trivia

My evaluation: 5/5

This comment on IMDb


1 Response to “Children of Men (2006)”

  1. 1 Joachim Boaz November 14, 2010 at 3:32 am

    Great film. Nice review!

    I certainly didn’t think of Tarkovsky when I watched this film ;) haha…

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