In my efforts to catch up with the science fiction genre which I used to find abominable till a year ago, I watched Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner and Alfonso Cuaron’s Children of Men today. And in those movies I found a binding link, a ‘Magnoliastic link’ as I prefer to call it on the basis of Paul Thomas Anderson’s masterpiece. Magnolia, as you may know if you have watched it, deals with tales weaved together by the workings of the fabrics of nature, or as we popularly refer it to – chance. It seems to be the case with Children of Men and Blade Runner, two movies in which the atmosphere takes ground gradually and the characters recede into the background.
The dystopian settings in Blade Runner and Children of Men are poles apart in nature. The world of Blade Runner is an orgasm to the eyes with its futuristic design. The movie is characterized by its hard-edged architecture and visual grandiose complemented by the neo-noir lighting scheme. The world of Blade Runner seems to be a consumerism-laden wasteland. It is a movie where one can keep the volume on mute and yet find oneself overwhelmed by the visceral visual experience.
The world of Children of Men is art design at its best. Alfonso Cuaron intended to give it a documentary feel, so the futuristic world of his is nothing more but the present world, except for its rusty and brunt nature. The settings seem to be a gradual yet horrifyingly certain extension of the present socio-economic conditions brought to its raw nature due to infertility, where the rich become richer but the poor do not become poorer. They perish.
The settings of Children of Men is futuristic, particularly evident from its automobile technology, however Cuaron blends effortlessly the post-modern world with the present. Take for example the cages in which refugees are held at railway stations. I can see that happening and that is where the true horror of the movie lies. That the current global politics has gradually receded to such banality and hatred that the world of Children of Men seems nothing but a distant reality.
But the most beautiful interwoven theme is that of hope and humanity surviving in the midst of all ruckuses. The scene in Children of Men where the baby is finally exposed to the world is one of the best I have ever seen. The reactions of the people, some bowing their heads with folded heads, soaking in the moment of witnessing the Messiah of all humanity restores some faith in me about the future. May movies like these hold the beacon of light in the midst of ignorance in dark times.
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