cultural context

Topics: Earth, World, The Key Pages: 7 (1126 words) Published: November 26, 2013
Children of Men (2006) dir. Alfonso Cuarón

Source, Alicia McGivern, IFI Education

Alfonso Cuarón’s depiction of London in 2027 is

loosely based on P.D. James’ 1992 novel of the same

name. In a society broken down as a result of mass

infertility, the authorities have to deal with thousands

Julianne Moore. With references to history, literature,

title will provide for plenty of classroom discussion. (IFI)

of displaced people. Although commencing with

a bleak view of the future, the film focuses on the

themes of hope, redemption and faith. Stunning

set pieces combine with great performances from,

amongst others, Clive Owen, Michael Caine and

current affairs and art, this new Comparative Study

Cultural Context

UK 2027

The world is collapsing; no children have been born in 18 years owing to

infertility among the female population.

Britain has been militarised and there are millions of asylum seekers trying to

enter Britain or living there in detention centres.

Former activist but now disillusioned Theo is kidnapped by an immigrants

rights group know as The Fishes, led by his estranged wife, Julian who, with

other British sympathisers known as Cods.

The group want Theo to secure transit papers for a young woman in order to

get her to the south coast to be transported to the Human Project.

The Human Project – a distant place regarded as the singular hope for


London – depicted as highly polluted and violence. Familiar landmarks are

visible, this is a London we the audience know, however these landmarks

have lost all sense of historic context for the people living there.

The setting - realistic; there is no futuristic city that you see in some films with

glass and light and flying cars. This is a future we can easily recognise.

The pervading mood is one of fear – of emigrants, of law enforcers, of the

state of the world.

There is a sense of national grief as the death of Baby Diego “the youngest

person on the planet” is reported on the media.

Theo exists in this world, has become disengaged and it is only through the

kidnapping and meeting the girl, Kee, that he embarks on a journey through

the destroyed landscape to re-awakening and a sense of hope.



This mode refers to the world of the text:

- what kind of people live in this world?

- what sense of place is built up and how is this achieved?

- in what period of history is it set (time)?

To re-read the film in this mode you should choose a number of key moments (i.e.

scenes or sequences) that feature the world that the characters live in. You need

to examine the power structures, attitude and values, rituals and customs of the

people who inhabit this world - the ethos of their society. The action of this film

is set in a dystopian future - London 2027. The whole world has been rocked by a

series of disasters and no child has been born for eighteen years. England is the only

country that seems to be still functioning. The price that citizens pay for this is that

they live in a joyless, strict police state that has closed its borders to immigrants. An

organisation called the Fishes is trying to overthrow the government by causing an


* Choose three to five key moments (i.e. scenes or sequences) that highlight features

of England as it is portrayed in Children of Men. Ask yourself what we learn about

the people who live in this world under various headings, e.g. values, manners,

morals, lifestyle, occupation, attitudes etc.

* Get familiar with the key moments you have chosen by watching them again and

answer all the questions in Stage One that relate to the social setting/cultural context

in these key moments.

* Consult the notes in your Response Journal for your chosen key...
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