Although the movie Children of Men was released in 2006, and the novel on which it is based was published in 1992, it seems well-suited to tap into the anxieties of today: the resurgence of fascism; the influx of immigrants having dark skin, especially those who are Muslims; and the declining birth rate of Caucasians, especially Anglo-Saxon or Teutonic Christians. However, these three elements are disguised, for it would be unseemly to make them explicit.
The movie is set in the year 2027. The United Kingdom is one of the few places left that has a functioning government. Refugees pour in, fleeing war and starvation, even though it looks like the kind of country that under normal circumstances you would want to get out of. The government has become a police state, while terrorist groups, like the one known as “The Fishes,” wreak havoc throughout the city. And why, you ask, is the world in chaos? It’s all because women stopped having babies 18 years earlier.
Come again? Why would infertility cause a breakdown in society? I could imagine people walking around, looking a little despondent at the thought that mankind would be extinct in less than a century, but why that would cause a dystopian world is a mystery. The movie just plops that explanation before us as if it were the most obvious thing in the world. If anything, worldwide infertility would ease population pressures. We already know that people who are single have a much easier time making a living than people who have children, so there is no reason to think there would be so much starvation. It would be like the Malthusian principle in reverse. Granted, things may get a little difficult in about 40 years, when everyone will be a senior citizen, but that would not explain the present situation.
The explanation for this incoherence was noted above. It would not do to say that it was the white race that was suffering from infertility, while darker skinned refugees were breeding with abandon, which is what a lot of people really fear. And so this is concealed by having it be the entire human race that has become infertile. While this disguises the appeal to white angst, it does so at the expense of not making much sense, for the reasons given above.
Anyway, in the midst of all this, a woman named Kee turns up pregnant. It is important that she is played by a black actress, Clare-Hope Ashitey. Had a white actress played her part, the subliminal racist threat of a declining white population might have become too obvious to ignore. In any event, she becomes a pawn in the struggle between the state and the terrorists. As a result, there is all this running about trying to get possession of the baby, while Theo (Clive Owen) tries to get Kee to this place in the Azores where a group known as the Human Project has scientists who are trying to find a cure for this pandemic of infertility. Before he can get her onto a ship named Tomorrow, she has the baby. She had joked earlier that she was a virgin, but that was more than a joke. We are supposed to regard her pregnancy as having religious significance. We know this because when she gives birth, and at other times when there is a lot of emphasis on the baby, we hear heavenly background music.
I know that for some people, life is precious, but given the world this movie presents to us, it is hard to regard Kee’s pregnancy as a good thing. Why would anyone want to perpetuate such misery? A midwife named Miriam, who was taking care of Kee for a while, says that everything happens for a reason. Well, looking at the misery and suffering that mankind has been reduced to, perhaps she is right. The reason for the infertility is to put an end to the evil known as Homo sapiens.
Unfortunately, Kee makes it onto the ship that will take her to the Human Project, and as the credits roll, we hear the laughter of children in the background, suggesting that the cure for infertility will be found, thanks in part to women like Kee. Of course, we have to ask ourselves, “Won’t these children grow up to be just like all those adults we have been watching kill each other for almost two hours?” This little baby will grow up to be a terrorist; that little baby will grow up and become a member of the police force; and that other little baby over there will end up in a concentration camp. Now, aren’t we glad the Human Project is going to succeed?
However, if this movie is an unconscious fear of the decreasing fertility of the white race, then we can interpret the Human Project as actually being the White Project, the idea being that if we can just get white people to start having more babies so as to outnumber those of darker skins, then Western civilization can be saved.