Children of Men
Always challenging the conventions of filmmaking, Alfonso Cuaron staged Children of Men in a series of long, single takes. In dramatic scenes, all that requires is that the actors remember their lines, but in action scenes, the slightest error can ruin 10 minutes of filming.
Interview: Alfonso Cuaron on Children of Men
"The complication of the car attack, even if the production value is not as bombastic as the battle scene, the problem with the car attack is that you’re in a vehicle in motion," said Cuaron of one scene. "So that becomes a real nightmare in terms of timings, and cues and stuff."
Cuaron joked about another pivotal single take. "More difficult was the timing of the birth scene because in one shot you see how this girl enters the room and delivers the baby. And so we have to plan that like 10 months beforehand, you know, for the girl to get pregnant, to follow her through the whole thing, for Clive Owen to learn how to deliver a baby, and for the baby to come right at the perfect moment in which the camera comes around the legs. So that was the toughest one. We never knew who the father was. We heard that he was yesterday at the premiere. The only thing we asked Clare is to try to make it like a mixed race kind of thing so that’s the only clue that we have."
Despite the precision required to execute these scenes, Cuaron was not a stickler to his storyboards. "The exciting part of it is that as a director I try to create the perfect choreography but then it’s about the accidents that make the scene happen. You know, whatever you choreographed but didn’t happen or there was an accident. You rely on people like Clive Owen who would take the accidents and elevate the accidents into something better."
Set in the next generation when women have ceased becoming pregnant and the human race is dying, Cuaron was really telling a story about today. "The balance here was, and that was the most difficult thing in terms of the design. On the one hand, how to create a reality that if you are watching and you know that the convention is that the film takes place in the future, how you accept that that is the future without alienating the sense of today. And that was the biggest challenge. How not to create supersonic cars that will transport you emotionally and in terms of your imagination, but to make cars that if you look closely that they feel like today. But if you look closely, you say, ‘Oh, I’ve never seen that car.’ And that was the toughest balance, but it’s not only about the cars, it’s about how far you push the billboards. You know, I wanted the billboards to look like today but at the same time they have to honor the fact that the story is taking place 20 years from now. So that was the toughest balance to deal with."
Children of Men is out in theatres now.
For review, stills, posters, trailers and full synopsis, go to the Children of Men Movie Page.
Stay tuned for updates.