Children of Men (2006) is a remarkable film, and my pick for best movie to watch during Advent. Add it to carols, presents, the Jesse Tree and feasting, as something that can help us to connect to the Big Story we are invited to find ourselves in at this time of year.
Yes, I know, a) a grim dystopia by Alfonso Cuarón doesn’t seem very Christmassy at first glance and b) you probably didn’t know ‘Advent movie’ was even a genre. But now that you do, I’m keen to hear your thoughts on what else would make this inaugural shortlist.
It’s ‘the recent future’ and infertility has swept the human population so completely that no children have been born anywhere for some years. Without the hope that a new generation brings, societies have imploded and become worse versions of themselves. Britain is a police state with closed borders. There are public campaigns to dob in refugees and concentration camps to house those caught.
It’s a world in need of a baby. (See?)
Read and watch no further if you now want to see the movie with no extra information. Scroll down to see the official trailer (a little schmaltzy, something that cannot be said about the film itself). I reckon it has spoilers in it, myself, but obviously the movie’s distributors disagreed. Anyway, I’m putting some extra space in so you can go and get the movie right now without knowing anything else, or zoom past the clip to the comments to add your recommendations.
The rest of you, keep scrolling…
There’s one strong scene towards the end that is full of spoilers, so I won’t post it here. I played it during Advent at West a few years ago and still find it the most powerful evocation of the Christmas story I’ve seen in cinema.
It’s violent and dark and desperate, so it won’t be for everyone. If you’d like to see the excerpt rather than the whole movie, you can watch the full ten-minute scene here, or the last three minutes (less violent) here.
I’m not really into violent movies or books since I’ve had postnatal depression, but this is an exception for me. The world Mary lived in and sang about was also violent, dark and desperate. Palestine (then, as now) was under harsh military occupation, and the whole nation was longing for the promised Rescuer to be born.
I find cinema to be incredibly helpful to my spirituality, and Children of Men is a key text for me. Experiencing (someone else’s) hopelessness makes the Advent theme of hope more tangible and necessary.
So: what else should we be watching to get us connected to God this Advent and Christmas? Please add your recommendations in the comments.