Humans. Damn we’re complex. The human variable is always changing, never stable. We’re beautiful in every sense of the word, yet at the same time imperfect, shown with the savagery we are more than capable of. We’re able to build great civilizations, behemoths of buildings, and even alter the geography of a portion of land. We can also destroy it with the single push of a button, the single desire to destroy something beautiful. For many reasons we have been known to destroy the lives of our fellow man due to differences in looks, and ideas.
In Children of Men we see this two headed approach of humans. The beauty, and the beast. The beast’s desire to eat and consume has destroyed society as we now know it and has corrupted the world.
Likewise, under pressure humans have been known to do horrific acts to other people. The genocides in Rwanda and images of the holocaust have burned everlasting images into the backs of our minds. How could a human treat another human as an animal? One of my favorite psychological experiments is Milgrams’ experiment. In the test, subjects are told to ask questions to a person over a radio. When the person over the radio misses a question the subjects are instructed to shock the other person. The more questions the person misses, the stronger the shocks become that the subject is supposed to use. As the test progresses, and the person continues to get shocked, he reports the pain that he is feeling over the radio, and seemingly goes unconscious with a possible heart attack. The subject begins to question whether he should continue, but when the scientist recording the experiment orders the subject to continue they commence.
Just as painful as the images of the holocaust are we see a futuristic version of it in the gut-wrenching version of Children of Men. The police brutally treat refugees like cattle and criminals. While it seems to me that the police should spend more time protecting people from terrorist attacks (e.g. the coffee shop bomb that appears to happen frequently) the police instead dedicate their time and efforts into eradicating refugees from the great country of Brittan that “Keeps Marching On.” They round up refugees like cattle, using dogs and guns in a means to have them cooperate, then shove them into cages. To the government these people are pests, which deserve to be eradicated.
The reason that the characters became such savages is because they lost hope due to the infertility rates. Without children, there was no future, and the world became a truly ugly place with no reason to live. Hope in something keeps humans striving, and the people in Children of Men lost that. Even Theo lost sight of it. With hope comes humans desire to cooperate, to learn, to love, and to live. While it is hard to see society deteriorating to the point where the movie takes place, it nevertheless is upon the horizon. If we don’t continue to cooperate with our neighbors and support each other then we will fall. Then, all hope becomes lost, and the dominoes begin to fall.