Film Studies 1022 Lecture Notes - Lecture 8: Naomi Klein, Totalitarianism, Nativity Scene

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Background
Children of Men
takes place in the very near future and amplifies our reality.
Nearly everything in the background references the real world
Ex. the image of dead cows in a field references an outbreak of “foot-in-mouth” disease
It presents the UK as the world’s only country with a functioning government
Media in the movie advertises this
It refers to global migration trends and refugees rushing across borders
The film implies that the earth cannot survive our treatment and that therefore neither can we
What does it have to say about the state of affairs in the real world and how it has come to be?
Dystopia: “An imagined place or state in which everything is unpleasant or bad, typically a totalitarian or
environmentally degraded one. The opposite of a Utopia.” (Oxford Dictionary)
Elements of Dystopia:
Environmental catastrophes
Human rights abuses
Totalitarian or dictatorship
Scientific knowledge working against us
“We need to fear [those] who love systems more than people” because they will attack “anything or
anyone that interferes with the realization of that system.” (Naomi Klein)
We must be careful when dreaming up these societies
Global capitalism
People are not the priority of the system
There is an extremely oppressive centre of a large system
The system of state control works with fear
Segregation, oppression, human rights abuses
Rebellion against the system to turn a desperate situation into a new beginning
The UK is seen as a society to be obsessed with their fear of immigrants, and this fear regulates everything
The film allegory is not removed far enough from reality to be a cautionary tale about possible future
The film suggests that if you don’t already live in it, this reality is around the corner
Reality has somewhat caught up with the film since its 2006 release
How does Children of Men
build this dystopian world?
We see London divided into zones of privilege as Theo is driven around in a nice car and watches the people
on the street as he passes
Advertising throughout the film warns everyone to be on the lookout for illegal immigrants
Security checkpoints are everywhere - this is a police state
The urban space has been militarized
The refugee camp looks like Guantanamo Bay
Much of the film resembles the evening news and imagery heavily references current war zones
The homeland security sign suggests a post-9/11 America
The first scene:
Exposition: newscaster voices announcing recent news events to fill the audience in
The screen is black while these announcements happen
We see a tacit approval of these policies - the public doesn’t care much
The crowd is all fixated on the screen
Theo seems apathetic and unfazed, buying a coffee and leaving
The news screen gives us the date; 2027
“The youngest person in the world” is a major red flag
Colour is dark and gloomy
Streets look dirty and everything looks worse in general
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