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Children of Men (2006)

by British Film Critic

Alejandro González Iñárritu once said that “to make a good film is war, but to make a very good film is a miracle”. We, or at least I, often don’t consider just how much work is involved in making a feature film, and how many moving parts must come together to make a film great. Children Of Men is one of those films where everything just works. All of the moving parts work together in harmony to create this triumph in filmmaking.

‘Mise-en-scene’, funnily enough, is often defined as cinema’s “grand undefined term”, and no matter how much research I’ve done on it, I’ve never quite gotten the grasp of it. However, I now know you have to see it to believe it, because the mise-en-scene in this film is absolutely spectacular – the way information is constantly provided to you through visual means, whilst not being in your face and allowing you to make your own conclusions, is simply masterful. This technique, along with the colour palette and some brilliant writing, develops and establishes this world so thoroughly and extensively, whilst never feeling overbearing or out of place. You get so invested in this world in fact, that something as regular and routine as child birth inspires and rivets you.

This is only one of my first exposures to Emmanuel Lubezki as director of photography, and I can honestly say that he is one of my favourite cinematographers. His meticulous use of colour, shot composition, negative space and natural lighting is honestly breathtaking – cinema is first and foremost a visual medium, and Lubezki clearly has a deep understanding of that, with this being one of the most visually appealing and interesting films I have ever seen.

The premise of the film is truly genius, revolving around a world in which women have become completely infertile. However, it isn’t the premise alone which makes the film a masterpiece: it is the exploration of the degradation of society as we know it as a result of the premise, it is the depiction of humanity at their absolute worst and at their absolute best, it is the implicit detail within every scene, line of dialogue and shot, and it is everything in between.