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Why a Sci-Fi Film about Infertility is Scaringly Prophetic of our Future Society

Updated: Sep 15, 2020

Interested in taking Political Science? This is an example of the kind of work required for extra credit in Dr. Luna’s class. Escobar’s essay is a quintessential example of how you can tie everyday entertainment, such as movies, books, or even memes, to your classes. Way to go, Diego!

by Diego Escobar

In the world of Children of Men, human fertility has stopped. It’s been 20 years since the last person was born, and the global population is old. With many of the world’s governments collapsing, Britain is the shining city on a hill and the last somewhat-stable first world country, yet it’s once model, pluralist democratic system has become an single party authoritarian state ruled by the omnipotent but extremely popular tyrant: the Ward of England. The film’s prophetic relevance is astonishing, particularly in the wake of recent elections across Western democracies and the direction their new leaders are going, but perhaps even more astonishing is the realist portrayal of surging ethno-nationalism.


Alfonso Cuaron’s Children of Men presents the unraveling of modern democracies. At its core, it is a film about the disenfranchisement of ordinary citizens. From liberal democracy to plutocratic oligarchy to an omnipotent, divine-right tyranny, and ultimately to tyranny of the masses, Cuaron’s lack of exposition in the film walks the audience through Plato’s 5 steps of the fallen republic. Unveiling the lawlessness of his dystopian future, brought forth by climate change, pollution, nuclear accidents, social division, and terrorist bombings, which can be seen in the news headlines and in the background of the film, Cuaron gives us tangible ties to our lives today.

Britain blames it’s troubles on asylum seekers and refugees, locking them in cages and busing them to ghettos. With too many mouths to feed and too few resources to support the increasing needs of an aging population, Britain’s solution to its housing and welfare crisis is simply to undermine those in poverty. Anti-immigrant propaganda is also prominently displayed through posters in bus stations, on park benches, and covering nearly all public spaces. With anti-immigrant sentiment seen widely today--epitomized by Trump’s wall--it isn’t hard to imagine a world like this coming soon.

Cuaron uses Britain itself as a metaphorical representation of Western democracies and the delicate balance upon which they rest. This dark depiction of England is critiquing the increasing partisan extremism of America that ceases to acknowledge any middle ground and instead disenfranchises non-conforming ideologies. Perhaps more relevant now than it was eleven years ago when it was released, Children of Men hits too close to home for it to be dismissed as another science-fiction odyssey.


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