Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Compare and Contrast: Children of Men with The Da Vinci Code

In an interview in Filmmaker magazine, Children of Men director Alfonso Cuarón said of adapting the P.D. James novel, "I had the story I wanted to tell so clear in my head that I was very afraid of reading the book and getting completely confused. I read an abridged version of the book, and Timothy J. Sexton, my writing partner, read the [entire] book."

But there may have been a novel he did have in his head instead, or at least a film based on one. Consider Dan Brown's work vs. Children of Men:


  • Both have protagonists who are contacted by associates who pull them into a conspiracy only to die.

  • Both protagonists are left in charge of the protection/safely of a young woman.

  • Both protagonists must flee with said young woman when those she should be able to trust (the cops or the fish respectively) turn out to have their own agendas.

  • Both flee to the protection of an older colleague/mentor who lives in an estate in the country (and happens to be played by a famous British actor).

  • Both must get the young woman out of the UK and into the waiting arms of a secret and mysterious organization.

  • Both young women are special.
Coincidence? When Theo (and what does "theo" mean?) asks Kee who the father of her child is, her first response is to jokingly tell him that it was a virgin birth.

Just something fun to think about. Of course, there is one more point of commonality - both are also better films than books!

17 comments:

hutch said...

both are also better films than books!
Although in the case of The Da Vinci Code, not by much.

Lou Anders said...

To be fair, I thought the implausibilities of the book, and the obviousness of it, worked better in the shorter time frame of a 2 hour movie.

A.R.Yngve said...

I see the point: Behind the sci-fi claptrap hides an archaic Biblical parable about the Blessed Virgin.

It has worried me in the past, whether the genre is unconsciously recycling old myths which have nothing at all to do with SF... while we're fooling ourselves to think we're innovating.

Is there reason to worry?

hutch said...

At least the movie had Audrey Tautou...

Ted said...

You've actually read the P.D. James novel? I think you're the only person I know who has.

Lou Anders said...

No, I was relying on others opinions for the PD James - though I did read the Dan Brown.

Meanwhile, my wife - who loved Children of Men as much as I did - has since become annoyed by the lack of technological progress between us and decades hence. As she pointed out, not only do they not have any real advances, they don't even have as much tech as we have! I know this is indicative of a world sliding into decline, but...

Ted said...

Hey, they have giant flat-panel screens on the sides of buses; they have collision detection and heads-up displays on economy cars; they have some weird virtual-keypad interface for playing games. (And, as my M.D. sister pointed out, they apparently have a simple means of testing for female infertility, which is extraordinarily difficult given the myriad possible forms of female infertility.) What more do you want? :)

Lou Anders said...

Our flat-panel scren technology is getting there, and is probably only a few years off. We already have heads-up displays on luxury cars. And the virtual-keypad isn't much weirder than the WiFi.

But I'm splitting hairs - I lOVED THE FILM!

Bob Eggleton (Zillabob) said...

I LOVED the CHILDREN OF MEN movie too Lou. Had the same dystopian set up as the earlier V FOR VENDETTA(tho that was far more poetic with over the top characters, it still hits home in these days). V FOR VENDETTA played out that same scenario-the US has collapsed, terrorism/war/politics had a great deal to do with it, and in fact it's 2027 in CHILDREN, and 2024 in V. Both original stories-the PD James book and the ALan Moore graphic novel took place in 1997 or thereabouts as I recall. Both original stories were written in the 80's(V) and 90's(COM) so,now post 9/11- Bushian politics are written into the film versions, and they advanced the storylines ahead to be more "futuristic". My feeling is that, in CHILDREN OF MEN, man and technology has stagnated so it's pretty much a logical extension on what we see now. Note the use of buggies/horses and animals around the city presumably by those unable to afford cars or get gasoline to transport themselves or their wares.
I recall in the book COM,the machinations of the government are explored,however, in the film, we're left to get the general picture that it's a totalitarian and stagnant society. V FOR VENDETTA had a better look at the evil government ruling things. I liked CHILDREN OF MEN(and V for that matter) enough to see it twice. Terrific soundtrack as well.

Lou Anders said...

Bob,
That's a great comparison. My wife and I loved V FOR VENDETTA as well, which went a long way towards forgiveness for the Matrix Revolutions (and might have been closer to what they should have done in that film.) Meanwhile, with the news that George Martin's fantasy epic is being developed by HBO, I am very excited about the wealth of cinema just ahead...

hutch said...

I haven't seen Children Of Men yet (promise I'll get hold of the DVD soon) but (coughs modestly into fist) we already have flat-panel LED displays on the side of some of our buses.
Incidentally, there's another commonality between the two films, judging by the trailer for Children Of Men. Both feature scenes shot just down the road from our office, and I failed to notice both times.

Bob Eggleton (Zillabob) said...

V FOR VENDETTA was alot of fun, terrific in fact. Despite they changed it from the graphic novel, I think that was for the better, considering the politics were somewhat dayed-Thatcherisms, and they were supplanted in the film for Bushisms and the scenario rising out of the Middle East war.

Ted said...

Both original stories-the PD James book and the ALan Moore graphic novel took place in 1997 or thereabouts as I recall.

The P.D. James novel is set in 2021, according to the first line excerpted on Amazon.com.

Lou Anders said...

I thought it was a shame that Alan Moore, who has plenty of legitimate reasons to hate Hollywood for disrespecting his work, chose this movie to really sound off against - given that it was probably the most faithful adaptation he's gotten or is likely to get.

Bob Eggleton (Zillabob) said...

I think that's what David Lloyd said when asked about Moore's rejection of it. Having worked in movies myself three times and then some, I understand why books have to be changed to make a good film. Good books don't always make good films in translation. I have even seen good films made from bad books. In a film you have a certain time to catch and hold your audience. In a book, it's a more patient build-up, people give a book more time. Films you win or lose depending on the pace, usually. If it's too talky, slow and ponderous, forget it. People are more forgiving of books in that area.

Lou Anders said...

I'll go you on more and say that bad or mediocre books often make better movies than good books. Good short stories and novellas maybe, but if a book-length work is good, then you know it either has to change a lot or lose a lot to fit the screen.

Lou Anders said...

Ah, Louise Marley had the same objections to the film that my wife had - although we liked it more than she does:

http://journals.aol.com/lmarley/LouiseMarley/entries/2007/01/06/children-of-men/975