Children of Men: Climate Change Allegory

Research output: Other contributionBlog


Children of Men is Alfonso Cuarón’s adaptation of P.D. James’s dystopian novel, The Children of Men. Cuarón was initially uninterested in the project, which he described as “a science-fiction thing about upper classes in a fascist country”, and his adaptation replaces James’s Christian themes with a rich and rewarding exploration of the compatibility of the free market and authoritarian nationalism. The novel was published in 1992 and set in 2021, the film released in 2006 and set in 2027, and both narratives take place in England during an extended global pandemic of human infertility. The film was a critical success and commercial failure (the latter relatively minor, recouping 93% of its budget at the box office). Its critical and cult following rose steadily over the next decade and a half, reaching a wider audience with the coincidence of the novel’s setting and the COVID-19 pandemic. The late music critic Mark Fisher opened his 2009 bestseller, Capitalist Realism: Is There No Alternative, with a discussion of the film’s representation of a dystopia unique to late capitalism, in which “internment camps and franchise coffee bars co-exist” without contradiction. As we approach 2027, the UK is increasingly resembling Cuarón’s depiction, led by a self-selected elite that seems to delight in cruel and unusual punishments of the poor and displaced as much as it delights in exploiting its public service for financial reward. Praiseworthy though this prescience is, the film’s contemporary value lies elsewhere.
Original languageEnglish
TypeReview essay
Media of outputPrint & online
PublisherTheaker's Quarterly Fiction
Number of pages8
Place of PublicationBirmingham
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 3 Apr 2023


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