(Children of Men was provided to me by Special Ops Media for the purpose of review.)
Last month, I read and reviewed the book Children of Men by P. D. James. I knew the movie was coming out (starring one of my favorites – Clive Owen), and I wanted to read the book first. Unfortunately, I think I would have enjoyed the movie much more if I hadn’t.
There are a few similarities between the book and the movie.
~They are both set in the future.
~In the future, the human race has stopped reproducing.
~There are characters named Theo and Julian.
~Theo meets a young pregnant woman and helps her evade the government.
That’s really all they had in common. The characters are completely different. In the book, Theo is a retired college professor. In the movie, he is a disgruntled office worker. In the book, he has a friend named Jasper who is also a retired college professor. In the movie, his friend Jasper (played by Michael Caine) is a pot-growing hippy ex-activist.
In the book, Theo’s wife Julian (portrayed by Julianne Moore) is a shallow character who barely makes an appearance. In the movie, Julian is an underground political activist who cons Theo into helping the pregnant girl by offering him 5,000 pounds. In the book, Theo decides to help the girl on principal and because he is drawn to her – not for money.
I could go on and on. Why is it that people find a book that they enjoy, think would make a great movie, and then promptly change everything about it? I just don’t get it.
And more than the character and plotline changes, there is the whole theme of the book: the sacredness of life and how a world divorced from a Christian worldview becomes a place of horror and outrage. The movie becomes a political manifesto of a different sort. In fact, the whole idea that people have stopped reproducing seems to be secondary to the fact that Britain has started deporting all immigrants and has descended into mass chaos.
As you can see, I was disappointed in this movie. Perhaps if I hadn’t read the book, and didn’t know what P. D. James’ original vision for the story was, I would have enjoyed it, but I’m not sure. If you are a fan of futuristic sci-fi and haven’t read the book, you might enjoy this movie. But if you loved the book as I did, the movie will be a huge let-down.
On a related note, writer/director Alfonso Cuaron will be the guest speaker at an online forum hosted by Amazon to address the political and social concerns in the movie. The event will be held on Monday, March 26th at 6:00 PDT.