Next term Year 12 students are going to be writing film reviews. I have added a link to one on Children of Men to start you thinking about the task. The review is by Chris Bellamy and it is posted on Orson Scott’s Inter-Galatic Medicine Show. The title of the review is Dystopian Messiah and it has an interesting discussion of genre. Here is an extract:
People are already referring to it as “the scene.” Without giving anything away, it takes place in the middle of a chaotic and violent war zone. It is one unbroken shot, lasting six-and-a-half minutes, that follows our reluctant hero from one pivotal plot point to another. We are literally put right in the middle of the war zone, as director Alfonso Cuarón weaves us through it in one of the most impressive feats of technical virtuosity ever committed to film. The scene – brilliantly effective in drawing us into the urgency of the moment – is among the most gripping cinematic moments I’ve ever experienced. I can honestly say I’ve never seen anything quite like it . . . and how often can you say that anymore?
Cuarón’s real-time strategy is not only a technical feat in and of itself, but it capitalizes as a dramatic and emotional payoff. The scene itself, and the much quieter scene that comes just a few moments later, clinches Children of Men as the best film of 2006, a genuine masterpiece from a director who is rapidly becoming one of the best in the field.
Even before we get to that key sequence, the film has already separated itself from the rest of the end-of-the-year rush – and from its own genre. Great films can be found in all forms and in all genres, but the best are usually those that transcend that genre. They take the mechanics of the formula to a whole new level, or they reject the formula altogether and find a new way to tell the story. Children of Men certainly has a formula, but in the dystopian thriller subgenre, one would be hard-pressed to find anything so fully realized. The “future” in the film is London circa 2027, but it is more concerned with humanity than with differing cultures and nationalities (though those play a role as well). Humans have become infertile, and no one can explain why. Society has crumbled, deteriorated into hopeless and aimless violence that reflects humans’ sudden desperation and insignificance and fear at the prospect of no longer being. It is the near future, but our existence is bleak.
Read the rest here.