Sometimes change is good.
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Children of Men
Source Material: P.D. James’ Children of Men (1992)
In the movie: In the year 2027, the UK is basically the only world government still up and running after global infertility has driven mankind to the edge of extinction. The country is overrun with illegal immigrants seeking sanctuary, most of whom are shipped off to horrifying refugee camps. Theo (Clive Owen) is a government bureaucrat who is kidnapped by a group of activists, one of whom proves to be his ex-wife (Julianne Moore). She wants Theo to help them snag travel papers so they can escort a young refugee named Kee out of the country. He soon learns why Kee is so important: she’s pregnant.
Theo spends the rest of the movie trying to get Kee to the coast, where she will theoretically rendezvous with “the Human Project,” a mysterious scientific group allegedly working to cure the global infertility. Along the way, Kee gives birth to a baby boy. After crafting a thoroughly dreary and depressing world, Children of Men ends on a note of bittersweet hope as Theo dies of his wounds just as The Human Project’s vessel emerges out of the fog to rescue Kee and her child.
But in the book: The movie touches on the celebrity status granted to the last generation of humans, but the book delves into more detail about these “Omegas,” who get doted on and raised in luxury. The result is a group of violent, spoiled little snots who have nothing but disdain for their elders. Government has become largely totalitarian, where juries have been abandoned and conviction means banishment to a penal colony without hope of parole or pardon. Foreign Omegas are imported for labor purposes, then booted out of the country when they reach the age of 60.
The novel is partly told as the diary of Theo, who in the book is an Oxford don rather than government cog. He’s cousin to Xan Lyppiatt, the self-appointed “Warden of England” whose despotic reign is largely unopposed as the populace has lost interest in politics in light of the imminent end of the species. There are still people aligned against the Warden, however, including the “Five Fishes,” a group that approaches Theo and asks him to carry their requests for various reforms to Xan. He does so, but Xan correctly guesses that they didn’t originate from Theo, and becomes determined to track down the dissidents. Theo goes on the run with the Five Fishes, eventually learning that one of them is pregnant with the first child conceived in decades. The Fishes are betrayed by one of their own, the baby is delivered, and Theo eventually shoots and kills Xan, with the book suggesting that Theo will be the next ruler of the country.
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