Children of Men

Objective review:  One of the key scenes I found to be in Children of Men was when Kee showed Theo that she was pregnant.  When Theo see’s her clearly pregnant belly you can almost feel him understanding just what it is that he’s seeing and how important of an event it is.  Humanity was facing extinction from a mystery infertility case that had caused there to be no new humans born for the last 18 years.  Before Theo learns about Kee’s pregnancy he is pretty adamant about how he has nothing to do with what’s going on beyond what he has already done.  After he learns the truth he becomes more personally involved to the point of risking his life to steal Kee away to get her to the Human Project.  The scene where she reveals to him her secret is the changing point of the film.

Reaction:  I enjoyed Children of Men a fair bit more than I did the other films that we watched, with the exception of Dead Man.  The story flowed smoothly and presented a rather believable world after 18 years of nobody being born.  The characters were also largely believable in the way they acted and for the most part didn’t make stupid decisions for the sake of plot, something which had rather annoyed me about the first couple of films we watched.  While not a movie I will likely re-watch anytime soon I’m glad to have seen it.

Interpretation:  I think that the simplest way for me to go about interpreting this movie is to look at Deleuze’s nomadic theory along with smooth and striated space.  The relevance of nomadic theory I feel is rather self explanatory as a significant portion of the films plot is the refugee/immigrants and their plight.  While it’s hard to say whether they actually knew how immigrants were treated in England before going there they seem to have a been a consistent problem for years, with the British government going to the extent of caging and killing them due to their numbers.  It is (rather lightly) explained that England is one of few functioning countries that still exists in the world, causing these immigrants to become nomads in moving around trying to survive, eventually making their way to England in the hopes of being safe there.  Kee is one of these immigrants although it is never explained how she got into England (as foreigners like her seem to be banned or arrested) or if she became pregnant before or after arriving.  The idea of smooth and striated space fits with the nomadic theory in that much of the world outside of England seems to be smooth space; very few working governments are left and most of the world seems to be in a state of war and anarchy, which one could call the pinnacle of smooth space.  England however is striated space brought to almost the most extreme form as sometime in the last 18 years it has seemingly become a military state.  The nomadic refugees left the chaos and danger of the smooth spaces to enter the order and possible safety of the striated space, only to find that for them the striated space was (likely) even worse than what they’d left.  Theo is a bit of an oddity though in that he started in the striated space and due to special circumstances became a smooth space himself.  Theo and Kee’s journey to get Kee to the human project is a prime example of smooth space existing in striated space.  After fleeing the immigrant extremist group they mostly do what they want without having to adhere to any of the rules or order of the striated space.  They even use some of the functioning of the striated space to further their goals by using the army to get into a militarized refugee camp where they could meet the Human Project.  They were the contrast of one existing within the other.

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3 thoughts on “Children of Men

  1. I too had a very similar idea about the film in respect to smooth and striated space. When Theo is escorting Kee to the Human Project, this part of the film, as you clearly depicted, can be seen as smooth space. There were no rules that applied in the situation, there were no clear predetermined choices on how to act, and was very un-regimented, quite the opposite of striated space.

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  2. I really liked your paper. I also talked about the distinction between migrants and nomads, and how migrants can eventually become nomads themselves, and how striated/smooth spaces play into this. Migrants becoming nomads, in my opinion, is mostly due to attitude and way of living, and less to do with moving through space. That being said, do you see a situation where the opposite would occur? Meaning, what we perceive to be as smooth space because of anarchy or war might actually be a striated space to refugees whereby their options are limited, and it is not that they do not recognize the laws and boundaries, but rather that those laws do not exist. And what we perceive to be striated space of the country they have moved to might actually be a smooth space. Wouldn’t the difference between nomads and the settled people be dependent on way of living and thinking? I think my question is more of a general question about how your interpretation would be carried on to the refugee crisis we face today.

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