Not once have I experienced a story of hope quite like that in "Children of Men" and not once have I unwillingly become wrapped up in the extras of a film's DVD.
Alfonso Cuarón's "Children of Men" is the story of the world 20 years from now where women have become infertile and, as a result, the great countries of the world are left crippled by violence and poverty because so many people have given up on hope.
Clive Owen plays Theo, a former political activist, now a hopeless drunk, who gets caught up in trying to save a pregnant refugee named Kee (Claire-Hope Ashitey). With the help of radical group that helps harbor refugees throughout England, led by Theo’s ex lover Julian (Julianne Moore), Theo agrees to help Kee reach the coast where she is given the chance of freedom.
At this time, England is the only country left standing on its own two feet, and the country’s military is detaining illegal immigrants and putting them behind bars, shipping them back to where they came from or killing them. Theo's job goes from being a mundane, behind-a-desk worker to an unlikely savior of a young pregnant woman — one the English officials would kill to have and one traitors to the cause would love to exploit for their own benefit; if either knew she existed.
"Children of Men," as a film, is peppered with genius, a genius greatly described and explained in the DVD’s montage of extras. There are deleted scenes, alternative viewing languages, making-of featurettes, commentary on the film’s ideals and a 30-plus minute documentary on the film's storytelling and how it portrays reality.
"The Possibility of Hope," the documentary, points out things about the film and its direction that everyone sees when watching it, but might not fully realize. The documentary touches on the film's beautiful aspect of hope while exploring the dangers of oppression in the form of ignorance and capitalism, which are the film's two main antagonists.
One of the film's most abrasive scenes is when Theo, Kee and Kee's midwife Miriam arrive at a refugee outpost that’s being controlled by British soldiers. As their bus pulls up to the outpost, outside the windows there can be seen cages full of refugees — some are being prodded by soldiers, some are completely naked and being taunted; some are being electrocuted, and some are being badly beaten. If the scene does only one thing for the viewer, it's that it reminds them of past and present occurrences that have happened and continue to happen with relevance to current world events and negative, government-sanctioned treatment of others. And the feelings viewers get while watching it? That of shame, regret, pity and sorrow — exactly one of the points Cuarón wants to get across.
The featurettes "Under Attack," "Theo and Julian Futuristic Design" and "Visual Effects: Creating the Baby" all open windows into the film’s interesting directorial, editorial and production sequences.
"Under Attack" showcases Cuarón's and his staff's tenacious attitude toward the directing approach taken to the film. There’s a scene that takes place entirely inside a compact car, no bigger than a Civic, with dialogue and interaction between five individuals. The entire scene is shot without jumps, meaning it’s one sequential shot. "Under Attack" shows how, with the help of technology and a little bit of elbow grease, the crew is able to pull it off.
"Visual Effects: Creating the Baby" is an interesting view because it shows how the entire delivery of Kee's child was created. From watching the movie it's hard to tell Ashitey was in a prosthetic body during the shoot, or that the baby was computer-generated, so it's kind of neat to been shown how it was all done.
As a film, "Children of Men" illustrates the triumph of compassion, understanding and hope over everything else. As a DVD, the value of the detailed look into those ingredients is priceless. It's but once a decade a film like this comes along, and it's been a long time since an entertaining yet enlightening DVD has made its way onto store shelves. Taste what "Children of Men" has to offer, and savor every minute of it.Rating: