I went to see Children of men last week. It gave me a lot to think about, not least of which was what the title was meant to mean. Not even in a post apocolyptal world do women get credit for doing the hard yards it seems.
I asked a friend to come and see it with me and D but he said his depress-o-meter was already on high, he didn't think he could take it. I've been wondering to myself whether I found it depressing or not and I'm not sure.
It depicts a depressing world for sure, and a world that seems dangerously close to where we are now, but in the last scenes there is some hope. If you don't know the story, it's set in London in 2027. The world has fallen into a state of complete chaos, with the UK as the last bastion of (relative) law and order. There are random terrorist acts and a major ongoing campaign to capture and expel illegal immigrants. Oh and every woman is sterile and no babies have been born for 18 years.
So yeah, it isn't much fun and there doesn't seem to be much to look forward to. But through the darkness comes the very human face of belief. The people who refuse to comply with an increasingly paranoid and heartless culture, despite the personal danger. The capacity of people to care for one another, no matter what the cost. The miracle of a child born, the tragedy of a child lost.
And it really scares me that I can see how this future might come about (except the sudden mass sterility, that seemed a bit of stretch to me). As the gap between those people who have and those who don't grows wider, and more end up onthe side of those who don't, could we be surprised that the grab for power and resources grows more violent and bloody?
When I think about the lengths we are already prepared to go to stop 'terrorism', to keep our borders 'safe', to eliminate those who 'aren't like us' I feel really alientated. Those lengths take us away from the kind of world I want to be a part of, and take us closer to a world I'm not sure is worth protecting. Is Guantanamo really what we aspire to as the weapon of choice?
But the other thing the film got me thinking about is how quickly the knowledge we take for granted, ambient understanding, can be lost. If you've never held a baby, would you know what to do with one? If you'd never known a pregnant woman, would you be able to recognise what was happening to you if fell pregnant? If you'd never heard it would you recognise a baby's cry?
Sometimes we complain there's too much knowledge out there, that our instincts (particularly as mothers) are clouded by the constant push to do things the 'right' way, according to someone else's idea. If all that knowldege was lost, what would our instincts look like?
But one thing I did think. I'm sure that if everyone saw this film there's be a few more people offering me seats on trams.