Film’s Refugee Prediction
'Children of Men' captures chaos of modern times
War, along with social, religious and political unrest in the Middle East and North Africa, has displaced tens of millions of people.
People are risking their lives to find safe haven, while European Union officials are taxed to handle the flood.
The reality of this troubled summer and fall of 2015 mirrors the fiction found in the 2006 movie “Children of Men.” Watch it, you’ll see.
Directed and co-written by Alfonso Cuaron (“Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban,” “Gravity”) “Children of Men” is the movie version of P.D. James’ 1992 novel. The story is set in the year 2021 when society is thrown into chaos after two decades of inexplicable human infertility. The United Kingdom offers the world’s last functioning government, but it is being swarmed by masses of “fugees” — refugees escaping instability and chaos everywhere.
Those “fugees” are rounded up, imprisoned and even murdered — as the forces of chaos press on Britain and the government loses its grip on civility to deal with the tsunami of desperate, displaced humanity.
These 1992, 2006, 2021 scenarios in “Children of Men” were prescient to this year when, in the six months from January to June, 500,000 refugees flooded into Europe, most of them in smuggler’s boats. The lucky ones making it to land in Italy and Greece and then scattering for their lives. The unlucky numbered more than 3,000 men, women and children who died or drowned in the attempt.
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Making their way north, some refugees attempted to use the Chunnel linking France to England — shutting down vital train service several times. On July 30, British Prime Minister David Cameron alerted his nation to “a swarm of people coming across the Mediterranean … wanting to come to Britain.”
Some British citizens were welcoming, starting a #refugeeswelcome campaign that was backed by a petition with 250,000 signatures. During the first week of September, Cameron pledged to take in 20,000 refugees over five years.
But by the middle of September, the European Union was in a state of semi-crisis. Austria and Slovakia reintroduced border controls. German officials feared a million refugees swarming the borders. Hungary had already strung a barb-wire fence along its border in July, and in September declared a state of emergency and threatened to jail those who entered the country illegally.
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The United Nations defines a refugee as, “a person who is outside his or her country of nationality or habitual residence; has a well-founded fear of being persecuted because of his or her race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion.”
The United Nation’s High Commission for Refugees Global Trends Report released on June 18 said worldwide displacement was at the highest level ever recorded. The number of people forcibly displaced at the end of 2014 was a shocking 59.5 million, compared to 37.5 million just 10 years earlier.
In “Children of Men,” the chaos is sparked by a mysteriously infertile population driven mad by the fear of their own extinction. In the real world, the reverse is true, according to Alan Ware of World Population Balance, a Minneapolis, Minnesota-based organization.
The unlucky numbered more than 3,000 men, women and children who died or drowned in the attempt.
Overpopulation has made the world’s refugee situation much worse, Ware said. The Middle East and North Africa region have doubled in population in less than 40 years. Many of the recent European refugees come from sub-Saharan Africa, where the population has also doubled in the past four decades.
The 2015 revision of the United Nations World Population Prospects reports the world population reached 7.3 billion mid year, implying the world has added approximately 1 billion people in the past 12 years.
But what if the fiction of “Children of Men” somehow came true? What if the human race — for whatever reason — became infertile and no babies were produced for 20 years? Would worldwide chaos break out and spread all the way to the Sceptered Isle?
What if the fiction of “Children of Men” somehow came true?
“With no young dependents, the economies would have very strong economic growth for the first 20 years,” Ware said. “The real pain would be the next 20 years when there are no workers age 20-40, and the following 20 years when there are no workers age 40-60.”
The movie version of “Children of Men” ends with the death of Theo, Clive Owen’s character, who has spent the movie transporting to safety a woman who turns out to be pregnant. She gives birth in the middle of a fierce battle between British soldiers and fugees. It stops the fight cold, offering hope to a chaotic world.
Hope appears in short supply for many people entangled in the real-world refugee crisis.