Until Death Do Us Part - Jonas

Selasa, Mac 31, 2009

#379. DVD : Children of Men [2006]

" No children. No future. No hope "

UK [109m] Directed by. Alfonso Cuaron; Producer. Marc Abraham, Eric Newman, Hilary Shor, Iain Smith, Tony Smith; Screnplay. Alfonso Cuaron, Timothy J. Sexton, David Arata, Mark Fergus, Hawk Ostby; novel. PD James; Cinematography. Emmanuel Lubezki; m. John Tavener; Edited by. Alfonso Cuaron, Alex Rodriguez; Starring. Clive Owen, Michael Caine, Julianne Moore, Claire-Hope Ashitey, Charlie Hunnam, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Pam Ferris, Pater Mullan

Children of Men is a 2006 dystopian science fiction film co-written and directed by Alfonso Cuarón. The Strike Entertainment production was loosely adapted from P. D. James's 1992 novel of the same name by Cuarón and Timothy J. Sexton with help from David Arata, Mark Fergus and Hawk Ostby. It stars Clive Owen, Julianne Moore, Claire-Hope Ashitey, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Michael Caine.

Set in the United Kingdom of 2027, the film explores a grim world in which two decades of global human infertility have left humanity with less than a century to survive. Societal collapse, terrorism, and environmental destruction accompany the impending extinction. Meanwhile, the United Kingdom—perhaps the last functioning government—persecutes a seemingly endless wave of illegal immigrant refugees seeking sanctuary. In the midst of this chaos, Theo Faron (Clive Owen) must find safe transit for Kee (Claire-Hope Ashitey), a pregnant Fijian refugee.

The film was released on 22 September 2006, in the UK, 19 October 2006, in Australia and on 25 December 2006, in the U.S., critics noting the relationship between the Christmas opening and the film's themes of hope, redemption, and faith. Described as a companion piece to Cuarón's Y tu mamá también (2001), both films examine contemporary social and political issues through the epic journey of the road film. Children of Men was not a financial success, but attracted positive reviews from critics and acclaim from film goers. The film was recognised for its achievements in screenwriting, cinematography, art direction, and innovative single-shot action sequences, receiving three Academy Award nominations and winning two BAFTA awards.

An ugly mix of contemporary issues is hacked to unrecognizable bits in Alfonso Cuaron’s futuristic thriller-blender Children of Men.The film is a tame, at times insipid thriller trying to impress with impossibly generic analogies to our own time. Issues such as immigration, racism, terrorism, state control and religious fanaticism all find a place on Children’s crowded streets, but they have been changed, combined or placed out of context to such an extent that they become little more than textural decoration, with nothing of the deeply shocking truisms that make works like George Orwell’s 1984 still powerful today. Michael Caine hams it up in a supporting performance that is sure to become classic camp, but generally the shifts in tone from low-key comedy to guerilla-style drama are so jagged they are distracting.

Children of Men is based on a P.D. James novel that Cuaron adapted together with screenwriter Timothy J. Sexton. What emerges from the film is that in 2027, the world is in chaos and only Great-Britain is relatively safe. A constant influx of immigrants is being reversed and all are deported to abandoned towns where they live by themselves, surrounded by police and the military. For unknown reasons, women have been unable to conceive since 2009. There is little or no hope left, and office worker Theo Faron (Clive Owen) is depressed when he hears that the youngest human being has been killed at age 18 when he refused to sign an autograph.Before he knows it,Theo is kidnapped by a terrorist faction called The Fishes, who fight for equal rights for immigrants, and is forced by a member of them (Julianne Moore) to obtain papers for a refugee who needs to be taken to the coast. It turns out that the refugee (Claire Hope-Ashitey, from Shooting Dogs)is actually pregnant!(Cue triumphal symphonic music and shots of amazed faces.)Theo will try to get her to Brighton safe, but as these things go, the way is paved with danger and friends turn out to be enemies and vice-versa.

Cuaron’s London and Baxhill, a refugee shanty town, are dirty and dangerous places where violence lurks everywhere and terrorist bombings are less talked about than the melodramatic death of the youngest person on the planet. As is often the case in science fiction, the future is a mix of elements from the present, though the problem is that there seems to be no explanation as to why and how these elements have ended up together in the two decades that separate the audience from 2027. Christianity has been restyled with elements from Asian religions, Michelangelo’s David (minus one leg) stands inside a building in London rather than in Florence, immigrants are transported in cages and fertility tests and British passport checks are obligatory at practically every corner of the street. Meanwhile, Islamic fundamentalists are gathering in the immigrant shantytowns, preparing a revolution.

What happened in the intervening years? Without this knowledge these events make little or no sense. Cuaron has succeeded in creating a future in chaos, but for it to comment on any contemporary issues it needs to be clear what created this chaos and why this chaos has been organized in the way it is. As presented in Children of Men,the future of mankind has no past.Michael Caine has a lot of fun with his role as a neo-hippie who helps Owen's character, though generally the film’s attempts at low-key comedy are bogged down by its need to be taken seriously as an action movie. When Theo tries to escape in a car that needs to be pushed to get going, it interrupts and distracts from a chase sequence with something more at home in a Buster Keaton film.

What remains are an impressive sequence involving an assault on a car by two sharpshooters on a scooter and a shoot-out involving the army and brigands that plays like a deleted scene from Ridley Scott’s Black Hawk Down; barely enough elements to carry an action film, much less a political science fiction picture. The devil is in the details, they say, only here there is clearly a lot of the devil at work but a chronic lack of detail to make any sense of it.

Children of Men used several lengthy single-shot sequences in which extremely complex actions take place. The longest of these are a shot in which Kee gives birth (199 seconds); a roadside ambush on a country road (247 seconds); and a scene in which Theo is captured by the Fishes, escapes, and runs down a street and through a building in the middle of a raging battle (454 seconds). These sequences were extremely difficult to film, although the effect of continuity is sometimes an illusion, aided by CGI effects. Cuarón had already experimented with long takes in Y tu mamá también and Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.

His style is influenced by the Swiss film Jonah Who Will Be 25 in the Year 2000 (1976), a favorite of Cuarón's. Cuarón reminisces: "I was studying cinema when I first saw [Jonah], and interested in the French New Wave. Jonah was so unflashy compared to those films. The camera keeps a certain distance and there are relatively few close-ups. It's elegant and flowing, constantly tracking, but very slowly and not calling attention to itself."[60] The creation of the single-shot sequences was a challenging, time-consuming process that sparked concerns from the studio.

It took fourteen days to prepare for the single take in which Clive Owen's character searches a building under attack, and five hours for every time they wanted to reshoot it. In the middle of one shot, blood splattered onto the lens, and cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki convinced the director to leave it in. According to Owen, "Right in the thick of it are me and the camera operator because we're doing this very complicated, very specific dance which, when we come to shoot, we have to make feel completely random."Cuarón's initial idea for maintaining continuity during the roadside ambush scene was dismissed by production experts as an "impossible shot to do".

Fresh from the visual effects-laden Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Cuarón suggested using computer-generated imagery to film the scene. Lubezki refused to allow it, reminding the director that they had intended to make a film akin to a "raw documentary". Instead, a special camera rig invented by Gary Thieltges of Doggicam Systems was employed, allowing Cuarón to develop the scene as one extended take.A vehicle was modified to enable seats to tilt and lower actors out of the way of the camera, and the windshield was designed to tilt out of the way to allow camera movement in and out through the front windscreen. A crew of four, including the DP and camera operator, rode on the roof. However, the commonly reported statement that the action scenes are continuous shots is not entirely true.

Visual effects supervisor Frazer Churchill has indicated that the battle sequence was filmed in five separate takes over two locations and then seamlessly stitched together to give the illusion of a single take. Similarly, the car sequence was filmed in six separate takes over three locations and then stitched together, along with various other CG elements including a CG roof. In an interview with Variety, Cuarón acknowledged this nature of the "single-shot" action sequences: "Maybe I'm spilling a big secret, but sometimes it's more than what it looks like.The important thing is how you blend everything and how you keep the perception of a fluid choreography through all of these different pieces."

Tim Webber of VFX house Framestore CFC was responsible for the three-and-a-half minute single take of Kee giving birth, helping to choreograph and create the CG effects of the childbirth. Cuarón had originally intended to use an animatronic baby as Kee's child with the exception of the childbirth scene. In the end, two takes were shot, with the second take concealing Claire-Hope Ashitey's legs, replacing them with prosthetic legs. Cuarón was pleased with the results of the effect, and returned to previous shots of the baby in animatronic form, replacing them with Framestore's computer-generated baby.

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