Hope often emerges out of the messiness of life, it often arises in the midst of suffering. If things were perfect, there would be no need for that profound longing we call hope. Not every story of hope is a feel good story.
Directed by Alfonso Cuarón, Children of Men is a great film whose many religious allusions and themes offer a futuristic rendition of a classical and familiar hope story. Cinematically, it is renowned for its use of long, highly choreographed shots and for a gritty portrayal of a world in complete turmoil and despair, a world where all humans are infertile. All is enhanced by the film’s minimalist soundtrack. This is an intense film, full of a violence and grey skies. But the violence and grey are contrasted by the film’s hopeful theme, a theme with the power to create peace and invigorate hearts.
The film’s main character is Theo Faron, a former political activist whose daily life is one of monotony and meaninglessness. The reality that humanity is dying out leaves Theo apathetic and without hope. After being contacted by his estranged wife Julian, he agrees to accompany a young woman to the coast in exchange for a large sum of money. He does not know why she needs to get to the coast, but he accepts because of the money. The young woman is named Kee and she is an illegal immigrant. She is also pregnant, the first woman to be pregnant in nearly two decades.
Theo and Kee’s journey to the coast is an attempt to connect with a ship operated by the Human Project, a fabled organization working to discover the cause of human infertility. Their passage to the coast quickly becomes a flight as they are being pursued and encounter growing civil unrest between the government and revolutionary militants. Along the way, they are accompanied by a prophetic midwife, Miriam, and spend time with Theo’s wise friend, Jasper. These accompanying characters are selfless guides whose hopes for the future of humanity provide fuel for Theo’s growing hope.
Theo’s name is incredibly significant. Theo Faron forms a transliteration from Greek meaning “God bearer” – theos (God), ferein (bear). As Kee’s primary caretaker during her final stage of pregnancy, Theo bears Kee through hardship and takes responsibility for protecting her and her child. The hope that Kee bears in her womb is more than just her or Theo’s hope. Her child is the hope of all humanity.
We see a transformation occur in Theo from despair to serene hope. Like the rest of the film, this portrayal is personal and real. It is gritty and complex. Theo’s character is not one of those rare few who possess unconquerable hope. Rather, Theo is like so many who, for a variety of reasons, have lost hope. But he discovers that hope can be rekindled, that even in a barren and infertile place, hope arises.