Profoundly prescient and starkly relevant to the acrimonious argy-bargy affairs of the world today, this week’s Cavalcade has us tread into the turbulent and societally troubled thriller-parable that is 2006’s Children of Men written by Alfonso Cuaron, Timothy J. Sexton, David Arata, Mark Fergus, and Hawk Ostby. A screenplay that orchestrates a vast assortment of subtle cinematic themes speculating about the human condition, xenophobic hysteria run amok, and the nature of grief and hopelessness. It’s a script that levels you with lambent ideas and is just top-shelf science-fiction etched on every page.
The elevator pitch: The world over has been pitched into a crisis. An unexplainable and sustaining case of widespread infertility has blighted mankind and there hasn’t been a baby born in nearly two decades. Humanity is on the cusp of collapse and the outlook is bleak and maudlin for the surviving population. As thickets overtake playgrounds and nurseries grow eerily quiet, society has regressed to something atavistic and nihilistically primal.
The script is a masterclass in sneaking in allegorical tropes and embedding subtle soupcons of thematic imagery. Themes of hope, redemption, and fragile faith personified through rich characterization and narrative velocity. Theo Faron is our cynical and brow-beaten protagonist. A detached veteran of sorrow and melancholy from page one. He’s your prototypical everyman in every sense of the word. Grizzled and world-weary but ultimately resilient and duty-bound to meet the challenges of the mission foisted upon him. A mission that has him safeguarding the very future of humanity as he escorts a pregnant girl out from harm’s way. It’s very redolent of the Nativity but with our protagonists recast as a modern day Joseph and Mary. He becomes a reluctant savior figure. An earnest archetype that hits every one of Campbell’s hero tenets. By the script’s end, he earns his nugget of hard-fought hope and redemption.
Equal parts cynicism and sincerity. A pessimistic pollyanna.
Theo represents a lingering limn of light in an ever darkening world of despair and despondency. Resolve and courage in the face of surefire defeat and doom. These qualities make him a chivalric knight of yore. A Galahad with a slight case of alcoholism churned with nihilism. Readers are impelled to root for this highly flawed but virtuously upright figure. His suffering is biblical in scale. But he remains Quixotic in his brittle steadfastness. And that’s enough to keep us glued and emotionally invested in his crusade.
Take this scene. Basically the Obi-Wan-You’re-Our-Only-Hope scene.
The concept is an all too perspicacious perspective of a society wherein compassion and empathy fall by the wayside. We learn in this dystopian world, immigrants and refugees are regarded with a high degree of suspicion and discrimination. The dispossessed peoples are relegated to becoming second-class citizens and become perfect scapegoats for the world’s current woes. It’s a cinematic exaggeration of injustices we might see on our televisions today.
And in the world’s desperation, religious devotion bordering upon flagrant fervor comes to the forefront. The world’s remaining population perceive the contagious infertility as some kind of divine plague and scramble to make amends. The religious piety begets further balkanization of allegiances which leads to more and more societal fracturing and violence. Again, more incisive commentary and cinematic flourish on anti-immigration issues that are brimming over today and splayed all over our front pages.
The script is here at the library. Bradded and begging to be read and learned from. It’s a sophisticated and symbolism-heavy cautionary tale that will ultimately buoy you with optimism and newfound understanding. So read it. And learn to hoard hope again.
Once finished with Children of Men, feel free to move on along to these other newly minted scripts in our collection:
- Practically an impossible amount of CBS’s Early Edition created by Ian Abrams, Patrick Q. Page, and Vik Rubenfeld. A finely-tuned fantasy drama.
- The pilot for Fox comedy sitcom The Mick created by Dave and John Chernin.
- Edgar Wright’s pedal-to-the-metal musical runaway romp Baby Driver.
- The development bible for Netflix’s exceptional and Emmy-gobbling 80s sci-fi thriller Stranger Things created by the Duffer Brothers.
And if those don’t salve your scriptly itch, we’ve a nice plump catalog for you to pore over too.
Shantih shantih shantih.