Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Book 75: The Children of Men

The Children of Men by P. D. James

I was on a bit of science fiction kick last time I made an order on Amazon. I had of course seen the movie Children of Men when it first came out in theaters but haven't seen it since. I enjoyed it, and keep meaning to buy it but every time I'm about to, I wonder if I need to add another dark and slightly depressing drama to my collection.

As a result, I didn't remember the specific details of the film, so I wasn't sure how loyal it had been to the novel. As the novel went on, however, it was much easier to see the large differences. For example, Julian and Theo's wife are two separate characters in the novel; Jasper is much more likable in the film, but then again, when you've got Michael Cain in the role, naturally, he's going to be a likable and important character. In the book, not quite as much. Many of the events from the book did occur in the film, but especially the action sequences were pushed up in the film's timeline and had many more added to them. Both works are very good in their own right, but their focus tended to be slightly different.

In the novel, Theodore's cousin is the Warden of England, or the dictator in charge of keeping a semblance of society even if it comes at a price for others. His policy is to increase the pleasure of the British and this means bringing in refugees as laborers. As a result, there is a much larger focus on power and people's relationships to it. The film also touched on this, but it also showed the racial disparity in the future that the society was based on. In fact, they made a point about the fact that the pregnant woman in the film is a refugee and not part of the great British race. Power is of course also a theme, but not in the same way as the novel. The novel can also discuss many aspects of the world without showing them. In film, it is often necessary to show something to really make it have an impact since simply discussing it or mentioning it in exposition won't have the same affect. As a result, the film had many locales that were addressed but not visited in the novel.

In both cases, the story is very much about Theodore's evolution and the impact that the events have on his life and outlook. The novel also focuses specifically on his relationship with his cousin, and allows him more time to reminisce about his past. However, the ending and the future as portrayed for Theodore are drastically different in the two medias.

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