My first year of teaching now over, I have realized that I utterly neglected this little project of mine for more than a year, which is too bad. Today I'm posting some excerpts of and links to pieces I've written for other publications, and here's the first, about Children of Men (Alfonso Cuaron, 2007):
"Children of Men is, like other apocalyptic fictions, a prophecy — an educated, dramatized guess about where we are going based on where we have been. Where we have been is where Eliot comes in: his sexual and spiritual dystopia of the last century's first fire sermon, coupled in the film with images of Nazi atrocities (cages and train stations and camps) from the second, creates a language for postulating the impossible. America in September of 2001 was like no other country in history, except perhaps Pax Brittanica in 1914, where the sun never set. But decline, like shifts in character, comes suddenly. The war that could not have happened between prosperous states; the attack that could not have happened on the American mainland. The analogy, without Eliot, remains shallow — a constructed coincidence of historicity. But with him it becomes instructive, tying together not just the series of events that preceded and followed each disaster, but also what we are to make of them. Being set in Britain makes Children of Men no less American, at least in the sense that American politics dominate (for better or worse) the world stage, and that those politics emerge as the target of Cuarón's sharp portrayal of a futuristic Britain saddled with a government poisonous in its policies and devoid of humanity. If Cuarón's vision of the world in 2027 is uncomfortably close, it may be because the decline has already begun."