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How Alfonso Cuarón Created a World of Details in ‘Children of Men’

Written by on September 9, 2015 


Harnessing the clout that came with helming the finest film in the Harry Potter series, Alfonso Cuarón went on to create one of the medium’s most vividly detailed worlds in Children of Men. Although it only brought in about 10% of what Azakaban did and Gravity would do, the 2027-set film has certainly found an audience and years later, many are still unpacking details. Evidenced in a new video essay on the background world Cuarón created, it’s safe to say, even after many rewatches, I missed a few.

“Now we wanted to set it in such a near future that everything would be recognizable as today,” the director told Rope of Silicon upon the release. We tried to avoid completely the high-tech scenario. When I started working on the film I met with the art department and they undusted all the old rejections from science fiction movies they had done, they were so excited to do this movie that took place in the future. They started showing me all these amazing things. Supersonic cars, buildings, gadgets and stuff and I was like, “You guys this is brilliant, but this is not the movie we’re doing. The movie we are doing is this,” and I brought in my files. It was about Iraq, Somalia, Sri Lanka, Northern Ireland, the Balkans, Chernobyl and I said this is the movie we are doing. The rule I set is this movie is not about imagination, it is about reference.”

The excellent eight-minute video essay from The Nerdwriter looks at the wealth of these references — from Boticelli, Picasso, and Banksy paintings to Animal Farm to Michelangelo sculptures — and sees how they are framed in the background. Check out the video essay below and for more on the film’s implications watch a the Cuarón-directed 30-minute special The Possibility of Hope, which looks at immigration, global warming and capitalism through the eyes of Slavoj Žižek and more philosophers.

Did you catch all the details referenced in the video? What are your overall thoughts on Children of Men?

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