As time goes on, there appears to be more and more evidence as to the fact that the vector of history cannot be discussed in terms of a straight line. Rather, it is best conceptualized in terms of a spinning spiral – hence, the apparent possibility to draw many parallels between the socio-political trends of the distant past, on the one hand, and that of the 21st century, on the other. As the proofs of the validity of this suggestion can serve the 2012 film No God, No Master (directed by Terry Green), and the 2006 film Children of Men (directed by Alfonso Cuaron). The reason for this is that, even though Green’s film is about the past and Cuaron’s film is about the future, they both tackle essentially the same subject matter.
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Namely, the fact that despite proclaiming themselves genuinely committed to the cause of protecting ‘human rights’ throughout the world, Western ‘democratic’ countries function as fascist dictatorships of the worst kind – something that can be illustrated, in regards to the actual treatment of legal and illegal immigrants in these countries, as seen in both movies. The same can be said about the significance of another major motif in No God, No Master and Children of Men, concerned with exposing the unsightly truth that, contrary to what many naive people believe, it is specifically the rich and powerful, who are the actual masters of such democracy-praising countries as Britain and the U.S. Apparently, both directors strived to educate viewers that there is indeed something innately wrong with the ways of the West.
In its turn, this explains why there are a number of thematically similar scenes in both films. For example, it will be thoroughly appropriate to run parallels between the ‘deportation scene’ (00.64.08 – 00.65.53) in No God, No Master and the scene in Children of Men, where the characters of Theo, Miriam and Kee are being taken to the refugee camp in Bexhill, while exposed to the scenes of governmental brutality (01.08.19 – 01.11.09). After all, these scenes do not only imply that Western governments are more than capable of adopting the ways of the Nazis, when it comes to dealing with ‘foreigners’, but also explain the governmental technique of making ordinary citizens comfortable with the idea that some people do deserve to be considered subhuman and treated accordingly (Mergenthaler A2).
In Green’s film, this is being accomplished by the mean of such characters as Mitchell Palmer (The U.S. Attorney General) applying a conscious effort into making Americans affected by the anti-immigrant hysteria, which in turn was meant to justify the government’s anti-constitutional intention to rid the country of ‘undesirables’ (Catsoulis C10). In Children of Men, the deployed governmental technique, in this respect, was even more morally despicable – the authorities made a deliberate point in exposing citizens to the public spectacle of refugees being kept in cages as if these people were nothing but vicious animals. This, of course, was done for the purpose of dehumanizing illegal immigrants even further (Sparling 161).
Another notable similarity between No God, No Master, and Children of Men is that both films portray the representatives of governmental authorities as immoral hypocrites capable of destroying people’s lives without experiencing even slightest remorse. For example, according to the earlier mentioned character of Mitchell Palmer from No Go, No Master: “Freedom is not a right; it is a commodity the price of which fluctuates according to supply and demand” (00.56.37). It is understood, of course, that the viewers’ exposure to the suggestions such as the above-quoted can hardly result in anything else but in strengthening their distrust of the government.
In this respect, the character of Nigel (a government minister) from Children of Men comes in quite illustrative, as well. The reason for this is that, as it can be inferred from the film, he never experienced any sympathy towards ‘fugees.’ At the same time, however, this person believed himself to be a socially responsible citizen – hence, his preoccupation with trying to preserve the works of art. The same applies to Nigel’s wife – it never occurred to this woman that there might have been anything wrong with her animal-charity activities, at the time when Britain stood on the brink of collapse, as a nation (Amago 215).
Finally, we can mention the motif of ‘governmental conspiracy,’ explored throughout the entirety of both films, as yet another unifying similarity between them. In No God, No Master, the U.S. government is being revealed to have been in cahoots with the notorious anarchist Luigi Galleani, on behalf of whose terrorist activities the same government ordered the deportation of tens of thousands of Italian immigrants. In Children of Men, the British government is being implicitly accused of having organized the bombing attacks in London, in order to legitimize its intention to go tough on ‘radicals’ and illegal immigrants.
Nevertheless, there are also quite a few differences between No God, No Master, and Children of Men in the sense of how the directors went about exploring the motif of people’s alienation from their governments. Probably the main of them has to do with the easily observed inconsistency between the Green’s conceptualization of what causes tensions within the society, on the one hand, and that of Cuaron, on the other.
To illustrate the validity of this suggestion, we can refer to the fact that No God, No Master, the U.S. is shown populated by the thoroughly rational individuals, capable of adopting a socially responsible outlook on the relationship between causes and effects. For example, just about every of this film’s characters seems to be fully aware that there is nothing incidental about the antagonism between the rich and the poor. This, however, cannot be said about most characters in Children of Men, who are best defined as being nothing short of decadents, incapable of paying attention to what really matters, within the context of how a particular society operates.
The scene, in which Theo gets to realize the sheer magnitude of people’s grief over the death of the ‘youngest person on Earth’ (00.01.37 – 00.03.23), exemplifies the validity of this suggestion. After all, this scene exposes Londoners (in the year 2027) as the crowd of degenerates, who simply do not have what it takes to be able to understand that the media-peddled outlook on the meaning of the notion of ‘historical significance’ is utterly misleading – the logical consequence of these media being controlled by the representatives of the world’s financial elite.
This helps to explain the significance of yet another thematic discordance between the two films – specifically, the fact that they provide rather incompatible outlooks on what can be considered the ‘hope of humanity.’ In this respect, No God, No Master, makes a clear reference to the assumption that White Anglo-Saxon Protestants (WASPs) are capable of admitting their own historical wrongdoings, which in turn should prevent them from acting as the ‘natural born’ oppressors in the future.
Children of Men, on the other hand, promote something entirely different – namely, the idea that, due to having grown irreversibly decadent (reflected by their perceptual infantilism and by their willingness to act as lowly snitches), Whites are no longer capable of benefiting humanity. This is exactly the reason why the director made a deliberate point in emphasizing that it will be up to the representatives of racial minorities in the West to prevent the extinction of Homo Sapiens species, due to infertility – hence, the symbolical significance of Kee’s ‘blackness.’
Thus, as it was shown earlier, despite the fact that the actual plots of No God, No Master, and Children of Men do not have much in common, both films are concerned with essentially the same – helping viewers to grow increasingly aware that their worst suspicions about the government may not necessarily be deprived of any rationale. This partially explains why the movies in question did not prove quite as commercially successful, as it was expected of them – they are so much more about ‘education’ than about ‘entertainment.’ I believe that what has been argued earlier is fully consistent with the paper’s initial thesis. Apparently, there is indeed a social demand for movies such as No God, No Master, and Children of Men, as they do contribute rather substantially towards bringing people’s attention to the fact that democracy is not to be taken for granted.
Amago, Samuel. “Ethics, Aesthetics, and the Future in Alfonso Cuarón’s ‘Children of Men’.” Discourse 32.2 (2010): 212-268. Print.
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Catsoulis, Jeannette. “No God, No Master.” New York Times (East Coast) 2014: C10. Print.
Children of Men. Dir. Alfonso Cuaron. Perfs. Clive Owen, Julianne Moore, Michael Caine. Universal Pictures, 2006.
Mergenthaler, Peter. “‘Children of Men’ Offers a Dystopian Future worth of your DVD Dollar.” The York Dispatch. 2007: A2. Print.
No God, No Master. Dir. Terry Green. Perfs. David Strathairn, Sam Witwer, Alessandro Mario. Strata Productions, 2012.
Sparling, Nicole L. “Without a Conceivable Future: Figuring the Mother in Alfonso Cuaróns Children of Men.” Frontiers 35.1 (2014): 160-217. Print.