Table of contents

Children of men

On the abiding hopelessness

In the near future, all women will have become infertile. This was not immediately obvious, but once it became likely, even inevitable, it seems to have become the fate of modern man. Soon, an insanity worse than barbarism descended upon mankind; many countries were reduced; those that survived were transformed into awful tyrannies. Men became so urgently aware of their needs that any sense of fellowship with other human beings disappeared. Aliens were treated the worst.

Neither man nor mankind would have a future. We see a young man become famous as the youngest human being; he is killed because he drunkenly refuses to sign an autograph. Mankind does not so much hope in him as expect him to give them some future for which to hope. His life is a wasted chance. Maybe people deserve to die.

Our protagonist, Theo, lost his child to an epidemic, before infertility became the law of man, & soon thereafter his wife. He has since lived a life of self-pity. His wife comes back to ask for his help. She has joined a terrorist group which she thinks is reforming into a popular uprising against tyranny. Before she dies at their hands, she persuades him to join in her cause.

The center of the conspiracy is a young black woman, an alien, who turns out to be pregnant. Theo insists, they must make this news public. The terrorists refuse, either because the government would hide the news, ashamed that it should be aliens having children, or because they want to bring down the government, & they need to own a black baby to rally the people. Theo’s wife ruled over this girl somehow, such that she persuaded her to follow Theo, who is persuaded by the baby that she must be saved.

The baby is of course fatherless; the girl jokes that she must be a virgin. Yet many people spontaneously stand in awe of the baby & sacrifice themselves. The baby is a girl, which suggests that mankind might live after all. Unseen scientists concealed by the sea & this woman are mankind’s only hope.

Science was powerless to explain the causes; or remove them. Some of those who are not barbarians thoughtlessly returned to their usual lives. What else to do? Some prayed for the curse to be lifted; others went further, to penitence. Some decided mass suicide had become preferable. Life requires many doings & because death is inevitable, hope also is required. If children explain & arouse this hope for good things, this connects the good to immortality. It would seem any world where children do not come into being is inhuman. It is doomed to blindness.

Alfonso Cuaron’s first famous American movie.