I’ve finally seen Children of Men, on DVD, after missing it at the cinema. Watching it last week I asked myself, why is its rendering of apocalypse so contemporary?
British cinema, for the last thirty years as chronically sterile as the issueless population in Children of Men, has not produced a version of the apocalypse that is even remotely as well realised as this. You would have to turn to television – to the last Quatermass serial or to Threads, almost certainly the most harrowing television programme ever broadcast on British TV – for a vision of British society in collapse that is as compelling. Yet the comparison between Children of Men and these two predecessors points to what is unique about the film; the final Quatermass serial and Threads still belonged to Nuttall’s bomb culture, but the anxieties with which Children of Men deals have nothing to do with nuclear war.
Kris Melis pointed out to me that the plot of Children of Men is similar to that of the 1982 pomo porn film Café Flesh in which humans are divided into Sex Negatives and Sex Positives. The negatives get sick if they have sex so they go to Café Flesh to see positives who are forced to perform on stage for the negatives. If the similarity is superficial, both films belong to the category infertility in fiction in a post-apocalyptic world.