Children of Men

I watched the film again a few days ago, and I was reminded of why it is such a masterpiece in my eyes. Everything about the film is flawless. Sound, cinematography, acting, there is no fault what-so-ever. It also has taught me valuable film techniques and ways of doing things in films.

For instance, Children of Men is known for its “long takes” or “continuous takes”. A long/continuous take is when you film a large and complex scene without breaking to another take. Children of Men had three that its known for. One was a scene of a woman giving birth, and the scene lasted 229 seconds. Another was when characters in a car are attacked by a group of bandits, and that scene was 189 seconds long. The longest and most memorable scene, which is remembered for its sheer complexity and camera work and achievement in cinematography, is a 9 minute long combat scene between rebels and British military personnel.

I have learned of how to make long/continuous takes be effective and how they work, and just what they mean as far as cinematography goes. They are very complex, and quite tricky to use though. Only the most veteran of directors who can definitely keep everything in line are able to pull off such a feat, just as how Alfonso Cuaron(the director of Children of Men) did.

The film has also taught me about mood and camera angles and movement. The mood and cinematography, believe it or not, are intertwined. The way the camera shot looks and the way its positioned can spark a different mood depending on the scene. For instance, there is a scene where a supporting character is shot and killed on-screen. The main character drives away in a car, and grieves over the loss of his friend. This is felt emotionally by the audience, as low, slow music is playing and the camera is mounted in front of the windshield, and stares at the main character as they drive.

Such a scene could be manipulated in so many ways, and have different effects on the mood of the scene and the way you take it all in. The music also takes a very large part in the mood. During the combat scene as well as almost all of the film, the cinematography was unsteady and filmed in a technique called “guerrilla style”. Using hand-held cameras, the operator would follow or look at what is happening in an unsteady fashion, and slowly run from point to point filming what he is supposed to. This is personally my most favorite technique of filming, as it depicts a very gritty, realistic, and hectic atmosphere and mood.Though they are drawbacks to filming guerrilla style. Too much movement and shaking can bother or annoy the audience, and even make them succumb to motion-sickness. Therefore, it takes away from the film rather than add to the mood.

The way the cinematography as well as everything else just made Children of Men a masterpiece in my eyes, and probably the film I’ve learned most from. I’ve learned many different aspects of films from Children of Men, and I hope that in the future, I can create a motion picture in its image and using all the good characteristics of it to create my own masterpiece.


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