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Are We Headed Toward the Dystopian Future of Children of Men?

Join us as we delve into the intricacies of a childless society’s functioning, the plausibility of a species-wide epidemic, and the mechanics of viral transmission as we explore the blend of fact and fiction that underpins the iconic sci-fi film: Children of Men.

This episode of Does it Fly? is presented by ScreenUK. ScreenUK is a free discovery platform celebrating the very best of UK-produced film, television, animation and gaming and sharing it with audiences around the world. ScreenUK is the go-to place to discover your next favorite movie, show, or game and features tons of exclusive behind-the-scenes interviews and all the info you need to find out how and where to watch or play your newest obsessions, wherever you are in the world. Make ScreenUK.org your next stop.

We’re taking it back to 2006 with the Academy Award-nominated Children of Men! Adapted from the 1992 P.D. James novel of the same name, the film, directed and co-written by Alfonso Cuarón, is set in a gritty, dystopian 2027, where humanity faces imminent extinction after years of global infertility. Amidst this chaos, former activist Theo (Clive Owen) is reluctantly drawn into a mission to escort a miraculously pregnant woman, Kee (Clare-Hope Ashitey), to the safety of a scientific organization dedicated to finding a way for people to once again have children. When the world is reduced to a single lifetime, how do we as a species overcome no guarantee of an assumed future? In this episode, Hakeem and Tamara nail down the realism behind Children of Men’s hopeless society and get down to business discussing whether or not ALL of humanity could suddenly become infertile.

From a narrative perspective, Tamara investigates the world of Cuarón’s mid-apocalyptic dystopia. Does the film’s lack of explanation of where infertility came from impact the world-building? When humanity no longer has hope, how would we behave and react? Would we replace children with something else? And most importantly, what does the title “Children of Men” even mean?

On the scientific front, Hakeem investigates the feasibility of a species-wide infertility epidemic. Could such a disease only affect humans and not other species? How can the same disease get inside all of us? What would it take for such a disease to spread planet-wide? Looking towards the future, would it be possible for babies to be born without ever being in a mother’s womb? 

Our latest episode includes all this and more! Remember that you can join in on the conversation in the comments on our YouTube page, so be sure to like, subscribe, and come back for more!

FURTHER READING 

Do you want to delve a little deeper into the facts, concepts, and stories Hakeem and Tamara referenced in today’s episode? Here are a few recommendations!

The Children of Men by P.D. James

The modern science fiction classic that inspired the film! 

Growing A Baby Lamb in an Artificial Womb

“There was some small animal, a lamb or a goat, that was actually bred in a plastic bag; it had its own umbilical cord… You probably don’t need a womb anymore.”

Making Synthetic Human Embryos

“How do we create new human embryos and bring them to complete their gestation cycle artificially?”

Choosing Pets Over Babies

“We see in our own time now millennials who are like ‘I’m putting off having kids’ and lather their animals with love, affection, and goodies.”

Hauntologyーmourning a future that we were promised.

“We always assume that tomorrow is going to come. We talk about leaving a better world for our children, but this is a world where tomorrow is not going to come.”

Could an Airborne Disease Spread Globally? 

“Suppose a government is doing space research, and they’re putting some aerosols in the upper atmosphere, and it’s some chemical. Because of the winds of the earth, it could spread around the world.”

Brain Droppings by George Carlin

Hakeem’s reading recommendation is filled with thoughts, musings, questions, lists, beliefs, and curiosities from his “all-time favorite word nerd,” George Carlin. 

The Girl with All the Gifts by M.R. Carey

Mentioned by Tamara, another modern sci-fi classic that follows a civilization ravaged by a fungus-based infection. “If there is a fungus because they spread via spores, fungi spores could get in humans around the world before we knew it.”

And speaking of fungus and spores…

SUGGESTED VIEWING

If you’re in the mood for more dystopian sci-fi thrillers like Children of Men, here are some recommendations for other movies and shows with catastrophes, apocalypses, and everything in between!

The Last of Us

Based on the critically acclaimed video game franchise, the Emmy award-winning series is set twenty years into a pandemic caused by a mass fungal infection. Follow Joel and Ellie as they navigate the post-apocalyptic United States in hopes of finding a cure.

The Leftovers

This acclaimed HBO series is set three years after a global event called the “Sudden Departure,” the inexplicable, simultaneous disappearance of 140 million people, 2% of the world’s population. How does society recover from such an undefined tragedy?

What Happened to Monday

A film set in the near future, where overpopulation has resulted in a strict one-child policy enforced by the Child Allocation Bureau. Any illegal children uncovered by the C.A.B. are taken and put into cryosleep indefinitely.

Melancholia 

When a planet is on a course for a collision with Earth, two sisters navigate the inevitability of their destiny in very different ways.

12 Monkeys

A time-travel twist on the apocalypse, the film follows a man from a future devastated by disease tasked with going back in time to gather information on a developing plague that exterminated most of the world’s population.

28 Days Later 

Director Danny Boyle and modern sci-fi maestro Alex Garland deliver a zombie movie with a pandemic-flavored twist.

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