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OCCASIONAL NOTES ON FILM

Alfonso Cuarón’s Children Of Men, a box office disappointment but a critical hit back in 2006, famously incorporates a number of single-shot sequences at key moments in the story. It’s a technique Cuarón has used before and since, but a few of my favourites from any movie appear during this dystopian sci-fi tale about infertility and a crumbling society. There’s the opening, attention-grabbing one-shot take of a bomb attack that begins inside a cafe before moving outside to London’s Fleet Street (a scene that gives me the creeps whenever I see it as I have to walk past that very spot at least twice a day). Then there’s the superb finale, in which the film’s hero Theo Faron (Clive Owen) negotiates the war-torn streets of Bexhill-on-Sea, and also a scene in which the character Kee (Clare-Hope Ashitey) gives birth. But just as impressive is the following sequence in which Theo and Kee are attacked in a car by an armed gang while travelling with Julian (Julianne Moore), Luke (Chiwetel Eijofor) and Miriam (Pam Ferris). A special camera rig was invented specifically for the sequence and the car was adapted so that seats could tilt and lower actors out of the way as the camera turned; the windshield was also modified so that the camera could move in and out of the front of the vehicle. A crew of four, including cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki, rode on the roof. (N.B. if you haven’t seen the film before the following clip contains a spoiler regarding the fate of one of the characters. Though I’m afraid YouTube have already given the game away before you even press play …)

14 Responses to “Classic Scene: Children Of Men (2006)”

  1. mikeyb @ screenkicker

    I watched this the other night after a gap of a few years. I have to say it’s one of the best films ever made. Its so bleak yet beautiful. And Michael Caine has long hair in it!

    Reply
  2. Cindy Bruchman

    Interesting and appreciated the camera angle post. This film had me depressed (Are there any dystopian films that are happy?) It was a good film by all the performers. Loved the contrast of the despair and grim present by climbing aboard Michael Caine’s bus for relief and a nod to the past as a hippie.

    Reply
    • Stu

      Hi Cindy, it’s a fascinating shot, isn’t it? I just lifted the info on how they did it from Wikipedia but I guess I could have left it blank as there’s an argument it takes some of the magic away! It’s a depressing film, almost relentlessly bleak, and particularly in the way it incorporates infamous images from real life (Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay in particular).

      Reply
  3. ruth

    Oh my, this scene took my breath away when I saw it on the big screen. SO. MUCH. BLOOD. It literally made me feel nauseous. Fantastic film even though at times it’s tough to watch.

    Reply
    • Stu

      It is pretty gruesome. I like how it goes from serene happiness to all-out panic in the space of about 3 seconds. Poor old Julianne Moore!

      Reply
  4. Todd Benefiel

    Yes, a very cool scene! I’d never even thought about the camerawork until you mentioned it, then I had to search out HOW they did it, and even that was really cool…what a rig!

    Reply

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