Children of Men – the coming anarchy

“The Muslim community demands an end to the Army’s occupation of mosques.”

“The Homeland Security bill is ratified. After eight years, British borders will remain closed. The deportation of illegal immigrants will continue. Good morning. Our lead story…”

These and other disturbing news headlines are sprinkled throughout Children of Men, the 2006 dystopian British movie based on a 1992 novel by P D James.

It wasn’t a good idea to have watched this movie on my flight from Doha to London. I arrived to find London’s Heathrow Airport more crowded and chaotic than I’d ever seen in 15 years of arrivals. Is this a sign of things to come?

In all likelihood, it was just a routine Saturday, but the (fortunately well behaved) crowds made me think again of the coming chaos that Children of Men predicts will overwhelm Britain in just a generation.

As the movie’s official synopsis puts it:
The world’s youngest citizen has just died at 18, and humankind is facing the likelihood of its own extinction. Set in and around a dystopian London fractious with violence and warring nationalistic sects, Children of Men follows the unexpected discovery of a lone pregnant woman and the desperate journey to deliver her to safety and restore faith for a future beyond those presently on Earth.

And this is how a fan summed it up on Internet Movie Database (IMDB):

Set in 2027, when no child has been born for 18 years and science is at loss to explain the reason, African and East European societies collapse and their dwindling populations migrate to England and other wealthy nations. In a climate of nationalistic violence, a London peace activist turned bureaucrat Theo Faron, joins forces with his revolutionary ex-wife Julian in order to save mankind by protecting a woman who has mysteriously became pregnant.

When P D James wrote the original novel, she placed the story 35 years in her future. When Alfonso Cuarón directed its movie adaptation, starring Clive Owen, Sir Michael Caine, and Julianne Moore, the world had moved to just two decades within reach of 2027. And, ominously, the concerns of immigration, law and order and environmental degradation had all grown worse.

The movie portrays a dark and depressing near future for our species and the planet. This isn’t the imagination of writer and film-maker running amok: the ingredients of that dystopia are already evident, and we’re flirting with the sympoms while the trends evolve into status quo.

We have been warned.

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