Books to Movies Challenge – The Children of Men/Children of Men

Aha finally this wretched post is finished. Haha. I have joined this challenge out of my own free will and I must do what I must. I’m being melodramatic, and I must warn you, this is a damn long post. With spoilers. (Do you still call it spoiler if it’s about a friggin’ old movie??)

So, anyway, I think I saw the movie on cable a few years back. When I decided to join the Books to Movies Challenge, I had just bought the book a couple of days before that at a sale for a hundred bucks. That made it book choice #1 for the challenge. Holy convenience, Batman!

Now the thing I hate most about seeing the movie first is that I always end up picturing the actors when I read the book. When I first read Lord of the Rings, for example, I couldn’t help but picture a strapping Viggo Mortensen as Aragorn. I tried so hard to come up with my own image of the characters, but I failed. Good thing Viggo Mortensen was not bad as Aragorn. In fact, I think he achieved the right balance of broodiness and kingliness, so I was fine picturing him in my head while reading the LOTR books.

ANYWAY. In the case of The Children of Men, when I had the book in my hands, I could only remember the movie vaguely so I couldn’t quite match Clive Owen’s character in the film to the one in the book. I was getting confused until I realized, several pages into it, that of course the damn book was not exactly like the movie. The characters, though having the same names, were different. The plot a little different. The book and the movie had the same base storyline, but apart from that they were way two different things. The movie totally different from the book?!? Yay me for this totally unoriginal realization. Hah.

Anyway, let me mention the base storyline. It’s the 2020’s and there hasn’t been any babies born since the mid-90’s. It seems mankind is doomed to extinction. Societies and governments have collapsed, and it turns out England has the most functioning government. The immigration of refugees is heavily controlled. Suicide kits called Quietus are legal and available. There’s mandatory fertility testing. Of course, nobody’s happy in this world so there’s bound to be a little group of restless people who want change.

In the book, the main character Theo, an Oxford professor, is cousin to the Warden, who is really the dictator of England, and he is approached by Julian, a member of a little group of five restless people who call themselves the Five Fishes. She asks him to talk to the Warden about the changes that their little group wants. Theo visits his cousin and the council, but of course nothing really happens with that except they now know Theo’s had contact with the Five Fishes. Theo ends up helping the little group evade the Warden’s minions because Julian turns out to be a pregnant, er, fish. Oooh.

In the movie, Theo (Clive Owen) is a former activist who’s just trudging on with life. He gets up, goes to work, goes home, and does it again the next day. One day he is kidnapped by the Fishes, a rebel group of some sort. Their leader is Julian (Julianne Moore), Theo’s estranged wife. She asks for his help in getting transit papers for an African refugee named Kee (Clare Hope Ashitey). Theo manages to get papers from his cousin, a government minister, but he has to accompany the bearer. While on the road, they get attacked by armed people and Julian gets killed. They go to a safe house where Theo finds out Kee is pregnant and Julian had wanted to take her to a group called The Human Project to keep her safe.  Anyway, Theo ends up helping Kee flee from the Fishes, who want the baby for political reasons, and get to The Human Project, amidst fighting between the military and insurgents and the Fishes. It’s madness.

So there. This is one of the few times where I liked the movie more than the book. The book was a little boring for me although I liked some of the little details like how people celebrate pets’ bdays or births. People hold bday parties or christenings for their little pets. Women walk around with strollers with baby dolls in them and people would peek and indulge those (kray-zay) women. To me that showed how the two decades of infertility has really affected people emotionally and mentally.  For me the movie was grittier and darker. I guess I liked it more because it really showed how degraded everything was. I can’t imagine living in a world like that. I liked the scene towards the end where the fighting stopped when everyone heard the baby crying and Theo and Kee with the baby were able to walk past the soldiers and refugees before the fighting resumed.

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