Children of Men

Discuss DVDs and Blu-rays released from Arrow and the films on them.

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jbeall
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#201 Post by jbeall » Sun Jun 17, 2007 10:13 am

filmnoir1 wrote:I just picked up the region 1 release of this film today. The special features are quite good. There is a making of featurette about the use of long takes, especially the sequence in the car. Also there is an interesting short commentary by Slavoj Zizek on the film. This is a film that is going to generate interest from scholars as well as average viewers for some time to come.
The special features are absolutely great. Although I was vaguely (and inarticulately) aware of it, I'm glad Zizek pointed out that Cuaron's aesthetic is to have the really interesting things happen in the background, while the foregrounded characters are sometimes completely unaware or unconcerned about it. (This was especially true in Y Tu Mama Tambien when the boys had to get the car keys from a sister who was at a political rally; you see them fighting through the rally to find the sister, but you never find out what the rally's about.)

I also really like the 30-min. doc that Cuaron producd (also on the disc) with various left-wingers I've read in the pages of The nation and other lefty rags over the years. It helps lay out a few of the many issues Cuaron is commenting on in the film.

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colinr0380
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#202 Post by colinr0380 » Sat Sep 29, 2007 8:58 pm

I'm late to this party, and I still have not read the PD James novel yet, but I really enjoyed this film. I liked the sense of all wars being filtered through one futuristic conflict, and while it felt a little obvious at the start I thought the film managed to build up considerable power using this conceit. There were elements of IRA and ETA-esque terrorist bombings; Julian's group felt a little like those groups of animal rights extremists - paradoxically killing to save life, and with different factions within their group with different agendas and different reasons for being involved; allusions to Abu Ghraib; groups of Eastern Europeans being rounded up and herded onto buses by guards with German Shepherds (I sort of hoped for one of the guards to shout "Raus!" but that might have been too obvious!); the Kosovo-style civilians running for cover across rubble strewn streets; planes flying past to make 'surgical strikes' at their targets etc.

I wasn't too sure whether the ending was entirely happy - I didn't really find much consolation in Cuaron's explanation of needing to become travellers rather than tie ourselves to modes of life, as symbolised by the boat 'Tomorrow'. I can understand that if they get too powerful these modes of life can become repressive and dangerous, but they can be useful in giving people a structure in which to live. The problem in the film comes because the world is in transition from one structure to the next, with an obvious rather than slow break from one to the other, as usually happens outside of a wartime situation.

In that sense the two children, Baby Diego and Kee's child represent the change. Baby Diego, despite being the youngest person in the world was also the last representative of the old world and his ironic death, killed not to make any particular statement, but just at the hands of a disgruntled autograph hunter, underlines his tragedy and shows that instead of caring for this youngest person he was turned into a freakshow, a celebrity famous for being famous, loved and hated for what he represented rather than for having any particular talent. It makes the Princess Di-style outpouring of grief for this stranger, who most would have only ever seen on television screens rather than in person, after his death seem particularly appropriate - and the more we see of the world, the more we realise how many people are being killed every day.

The infertility problem, rather than making people realise that they have to cherish the people currently alive (rather than feeling easier with the death toll because they know the birth rate will keep the population up!), seems to have had completely the opposite effect, caused major problems of genocide and made the psychological barriers between people into much more physical concrete ones. It is almost as if different factions and governments are trying to wipe out other populations before their own numbers get so low they cannot mount a major assault any more.

It is quite a bleak picture, but seems horribly apt with current events - even the visit to the world's art treasures kept in storage for the lucky few to see is a disturbing extrapolation from current practices of keeping collections locked away from general view. I'd hope that if the world was to collapse for any reason that the worlds art treasures would at least be opened up for anyone to visit and give people a last view of some of humanity's greatest creations. Instead in this 'futuristic' world, again the opposite has happened and the rulers of these societies are keeping these artefacts locked away for private pleasure and presumably with comments that they are "saving them from the anarchy of the outside world". However they can't be "protecting them for future generations" as for all they know there is not going to be any future generations, so instead they become less philanthropic and seem much more like Pharaohs, plundering their world for its most beautiful objects to adorn their pyramids - it shows how they are living in the past and also that the most powerful in this doomed society are going to be the last to feel the effects of total collapse as they have already almost hermetically sealed themselves off from the rest of the world. They might not survive any more that the rest of the world, but they'll die in comfort and style, and isn't that the most important thing?(!)

I get the impression that Kee's child however, rather than being the representative of the last of a dying society as Baby Diego was, will be the rebirth of a new generation of humanity (I guess a male baby will also have to be born at around the same time I suppose!), and the gap between one generation and the other has just been made more explicit by the infertility crisis. She'll be able to witness the old world passing from a position of never having known what it was like to live there and therefore will be able to take a more dispassionate view of the society that the characters in this film are struggling through the remnants of.

It could be thought of in religious terms as well, with instead of a flood God sending infertility to destroy human society and then funnelling all humanity back down into this child, thereby giving humanity another chance to redeem itself.

It makes the final image of Theo and Kee drifting in their boat cut off from all sight of land quite apt!

At the same time I do not feel the ending is entirely happy. The new children we hear playing over the end credits are entering a world without any older people to guide them - in the good way of not being trapped by a crumbling and frightened society run by corrupt rulers, but also in a bad way of not having anyone more experienced to turn to for advice and guidance. They will be on their own and have to figure out what to do, and one of the saddest things about the film is that is seems that humanity has been taken back to a 'year zero' point, where all the knowledge and wisdom accumulated has been completely lost and people are going to have to go back and relearn it all again, with no guarantee they will do it any differently the next time! So that is perhaps the most depressing aspect of the whole film, although I'm not sure whether the filmmakers themselves intended it to be! I assume their message was meant to be more positive at the end and suggest the possibilities rather than emphasise the loss. I suppose a case could be made that the kids couldn't mess things up worse than they already had been, but I hope a copy of the Bible isn't left lying around otherwise they could become like those kids from the Children of the Corn!

Was anyone else reminded of the ending of Dark City with Theo and Kee taking the boat through the sewers and then out of the edge of the world and into the open sea? OK, in Dark City William Hurt's character dies by being thrown out of the city into space but there does seem to be a similar sense of passing beyond the boundaries of what is known, looking back and realising what exactly it was you were part of and marvelling at how you were once in that place!

I also like the way that although the film seems to be portraying a very right wing world full of ID cards and surveillance, it also directs some cynicism towards the left wingers. Whether it is Julian and her terrorist/freedom fighters seeming to give the authorities the excuse through their actions to be even more brutal in their response, or Jasper's 60s hippie living in isolation and the past which is the only way to keep his way of life and worldview intact, or Miriam's new age style, it all seems futile once reality intrudes. It seems as if the film is trying to shed itself of all these previous left wing constructs that do not seem to bear much relevance any more by showing the representatives of each branch being killed off, often without mercy (with Jasper's death being particularly ironic at the hands of the members of Julian's group). Theo seems to stand for the 'ordinary' man being surrounded and pushed from pillar to post by all these different competing ideologies, both within the left wing itself as well as the more obvious right wing dominant society.

I thought the acting was good all round but I thought the casting of Pam Ferris was a particularly nice and subversive touch. I don't know how American viewers will react but it was brilliantly shocking to see someone who played the epitome of the jolly English countrywoman in The Darling Buds of May get dragged from the bus, hooded and presumably immediately executed on the spot! Looking back it makes sense, both for the reason I talk about above and in order to whittle down the cast to just the two main protagonists for the final journey.

I guess Cuaron must be an animal lover! He has filled this film with dogs and I think it is obvious that they have not been affected by fertility problems as humanity has (which perhaps adds weight to the argument that this is a targeted, purposeful sterilisation of a religious nature).

I was reminded of the saying about dogs being like their owners. It seems that everyone has their own canine companion from Marichka and her nosey, excitable little dog pushing Theo and Kee on to the next level and Jasper's faithful companion following his master into death. Dogs are also linked to their masters in bad ways too, such as the guard dogs used to round people up and attack them. There are also constant howls and barks of dogs throughout the film, most obviously in the scene where Kee gives birth which cements the link between dog and man.

However there is also an interesting use of cats in the film as well. The use of cats twice in the film seems to be to create a sense of security - that if cats have chosen to be there this is a safe place to be. However I think there is also the suggestion that their presence suggests only a limited period of safety, not that the characters can relax and think they have finished their mission. A cat appears climbing up Theo's leg in the farmhouse after Julian is killed, and the image of it clawing its way up Theo's leg and his slight 'ouch' is followed by the scene when he overhears the conversation that makes it necessary to escape what had seemed to be their friends in the group.

Another cat appears in the Bexhill ghetto, and watches the tanks rolling by in the street below with Theo as Kee manages to briefly relax and enjoy feeding her daughter for the first time.

I also thought the Jarvis Cocker song at the end of the film was very funny! I didn't think the 'c' word was allowed to be spoken, let alone sung with anger, in a 15-rated film. Did the bbfc change their policy, let it by as a special case, or are their examiners like most of the public and don't bother to watch the end credits? :wink:
Last edited by colinr0380 on Wed Jan 16, 2008 3:28 pm, edited 4 times in total.

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Magic Hate Ball
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#203 Post by Magic Hate Ball » Sat Sep 29, 2007 9:26 pm

A word on the ending: Did anyone else find the transition to the credits incredibly unfitting? A sudden cut to black, children's voices, then a really loud and jangly John Lennon song. It pulled me out of any trance that the film had put me in. I can't be the only person who thinks a fade to black and just the children's voices would have been far more fitting...as it was, it felt like Cuaron was hitting you over the head and shouting, "SEE! SEE! THERE'S HOPE! JOHN LENNON SAYS SO!"

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tavernier
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#204 Post by tavernier » Sat Sep 29, 2007 10:07 pm

Magic Hate Ball wrote:A word on the ending: Did anyone else find the transition to the credits incredibly unfitting? A sudden cut to black, children's voices, then a really loud and jangly John Lennon song. It pulled me out of any trance that the film had put me in. I can't be the only person who thinks a fade to black and just the children's voices would have been far more fitting...as it was, it felt like Cuaron was hitting you over the head and shouting, "SEE! SEE! THERE'S HOPE! JOHN LENNON SAYS SO!"
Cuaron, hitting viewers over the head? Never!

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Magic Hate Ball
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#205 Post by Magic Hate Ball » Sat Sep 29, 2007 10:16 pm

tavernier wrote:Cuaron, hitting viewers over the head? Never!
Shock! Awe! The only Cuaron movies I've seen are Harry Potter number whatever and Children of Men, so obviously I don't know his track record very well.

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#206 Post by David Ehrenstein » Sun Sep 30, 2007 2:55 pm

Then you must see his superb A Little Princess, closely followed by his awe-inspiringly great Y Tu Mama Tambien.

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#207 Post by Saarijas » Sun Sep 30, 2007 3:06 pm

David Ehrenstein wrote:Then you must see his superb A Little Princess, closely followed by his awe-inspiringly great Y Tu Mama Tambien.
Awe-inspiring may even be an understatement for Y Tu Mama Tambien.

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Subbuteo
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#208 Post by Subbuteo » Sun Sep 30, 2007 3:53 pm

Saarijas wrote:
David Ehrenstein wrote:Then you must see his superb A Little Princess, closely followed by his awe-inspiringly great Y Tu Mama Tambien.

Awe-inspiring may even be an understatement for Y Tu Mama Tambien.

or even an overstatement

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Michael
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#209 Post by Michael » Sun Sep 30, 2007 7:24 pm

Y Tu Mama Tambien...OH YES! Where have you been, Magic?!
Last edited by Michael on Mon Oct 01, 2007 9:17 am, edited 1 time in total.

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#210 Post by malcolm1980 » Sun Sep 30, 2007 11:08 pm

flyonthewall2983 wrote:
flyonthewall2983 wrote:I gotta admit, I wasn't really impressed. When the legend "from the director of Harry Potter & The Goblet of Fire" or whatever showed up, all bets were off for me to take this seriously.
I don't think I've ever been so wrong in my fucking life. It's brilliant.
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban is a pretty great film in and of itself. Cuaron's on a roll, as far as I'm concerned. Three great films back to back to back.

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125100
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#211 Post by 125100 » Sun Sep 30, 2007 11:26 pm

Saarijas wrote:
David Ehrenstein wrote:Then you must see his superb A Little Princess, closely followed by his awe-inspiringly great Y Tu Mama Tambien.
Awe-inspiring may even be an understatement for Y Tu Mama Tambien.
Did I miss something? Y Tu Mama Tambien is good, definitely above average, but not great... Maybe I just watched it too soon after Amores Perros? Because it paled in comparison...

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#212 Post by David Ehrenstein » Sun Sep 30, 2007 11:48 pm

Y Tu Mama Tambien has, for my money, one of the greatest endings in the history of the cinema.

It's the only film I've every seen that shows what horny teenage boys are really like. And it sure as hell ain't American Pie.

It's a masterpiece about class and death.

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Jeff
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#213 Post by Jeff » Mon Oct 01, 2007 12:20 am

125100 wrote:Did I miss something? Y Tu Mama Tambien is good, definitely above average, but not great... Maybe I just watched it too soon after Amores Perros? Because it paled in comparison...
Why would there be a comparison? Besides the fact that both films were made in Mexico, do they have anything in common?

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#214 Post by Macintosh » Mon Oct 01, 2007 4:49 am

David Ehrenstein wrote:Y Tu Mama Tambien has, for my money, one of the greatest endings in the history of the cinema.

It's the only film I've every seen that shows what horny teenage boys are really like. And it sure as hell ain't American Pie.
Yes about the ending. There is something incredibly powerful once you realize that the person you are staring at will never see you again.

Re: horny teenage boys, see Ken Park.

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#215 Post by David Ehrenstein » Mon Oct 01, 2007 9:11 am

What's most powerful to me is the last word: "Check!"

The film is a settling of acounts of modern Mexican history done in the style of a hommage to one of Cuaron's favorite films (and mine) Adieu Phillipine.

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125100
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#216 Post by 125100 » Mon Oct 01, 2007 9:42 am

Jeff wrote:Why would there be a comparison? Besides the fact that both films were made in Mexico, do they have anything in common?
Well other than both are Mexican and share the same actor in a leading role, no, but why do they need to have anything in common? So we can all be pretentious assholes and analyze the hell out of it. I just mentioned the two because I watched them one after the other so perhaps the highs of Amores Perros made the lows of Y Tu Mama Tambien feel lower than it actually was.

Saying that I still think it's little more than mediocre, just because it's foreign it automatically scores more points with SOME people when in reality if it'd had been made by Hollywood it would be regarded no higher than American Pie, Road Trip or any of those other coming-of-age-sex-comedies

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Steven H
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#217 Post by Steven H » Mon Oct 01, 2007 10:18 am

125100 wrote:
Jeff wrote:Why would there be a comparison? Besides the fact that both films were made in Mexico, do they have anything in common?
Well other than both are Mexican and share the same actor in a leading role, no, but why do they need to have anything in common? So we can all be pretentious assholes and analyze the hell out of it. I just mentioned the two because I watched them one after the other so perhaps the highs of Amores Perros made the lows of Y Tu Mama Tambien feel lower than it actually was.

Saying that I still think it's little more than mediocre, just because it's foreign it automatically scores more points with SOME people when in reality if it'd had been made by Hollywood it would be regarded no higher than American Pie, Road Trip or any of those other coming-of-age-sex-comedies
They do need to have something in common so you can compare them (that's what humans do, take lots of data and try to find connections, commonly known in the shorthand as "thinking"). If I wanted to compare, say, The Notebook to The United States of Leland a lot of people would probably have an ISSUE with that. They both have Ryan Gosling in them, so of course only a pretentious asshole *wouldn't* compare them (I'm being sarcastic here for anyone confused). All you really had to say was "they're both from Mexico and were marketed to US audiences at about the same time," but no, that's not good enough.

And Y Tu Mama Tambien is a hell of a lot more artful, convincing, powerful, and honest than the rest of those coming of age comedies you mentioned, or didn't mention, and it still has some very funny moments. I actually thought Amores Perros to be extremely mediocre (just a notch above Spun), and it only gave me the impression that in Mexico all they have are bad drivers, dogfights, poorly developed characters, and annoyingly short scenes.

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#218 Post by colinr0380 » Mon Oct 01, 2007 11:31 am

125100 wrote:Saying that I still think it's little more than mediocre, just because it's foreign it automatically scores more points with SOME people when in reality if it'd had been made by Hollywood it would be regarded no higher than American Pie, Road Trip or any of those other coming-of-age-sex-comedies
The difference between them is not just the language spoken - if during American Pie you saw the lead up on the tabletop humping away and suddenly a voiceover started telling you about the minimum wage serf employed long hours in an unhygenic pie factory to create the thing currently being used in a sex act, then it would have more in common with Y Tu Mama Tambien!

That is the most exciting part of the film, the way these horny characters are travelling through the landscape in complete ignorance of events either nationally important or of personal tragedies, and the fact that they are just horny lads makes the audience role as witnesses to these digressions extremely important as we have to bear witness ourselves rather than experiencing that witnessing secondhand through the growing understanding of character surrogates.

The woman could be seen in a similar way, in that she obviously has issues that cause her to go with the boys and do what she does through the course of the film that are never revealed to them - they're just glad a hot babe is travelling with them!

That final scene in the cafe is extremely powerful not only for calling time on the history but for the realisation that the childish innocence of the two guys has passed on to a greater awareness of their place in the world around them, with only memories of that time left as people once close part ways completely. There is also the sense that even their little story is important and memorable on the human level and could become another anecdote told in voiceover as someone else passes that beach and have their own experiences on it, forever making it their beach in their memories.

To be honest American Pie and Road Trip aren't even in the same league, and I don't think they want to be!

I've been making my way through the extra features on the Children of Men DVD for the last couple of days and as jbeall pointed out above, the philosopher Slavoj Zizek comments that Children of Men is a similar style film to Y Tu Mama Tambien, with an importance placed on the cultural and political environment more than the characters themselves, who are just negotiating their way through it to perform their own tasks - we as the viewers are the ones meant to be scanning the scenery and sets for information about the world, not wait for one of the characters to say something like "Hey, remember the 2012 Olympics becoming the next Munich? Do you? Do you remember that?", all while nudging another character who might respond with a "Oh yeah, I heard something about that!"
Last edited by colinr0380 on Mon Oct 01, 2007 2:54 pm, edited 6 times in total.

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GringoTex
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#219 Post by GringoTex » Mon Oct 01, 2007 1:07 pm

Y tu mama tambien and Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia make for a fantastic double feature.

And I can't convey the degree to which I think Y tu mama is superior to Amores Perros.

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jbeall
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#220 Post by jbeall » Mon Oct 01, 2007 2:31 pm

GringoTex wrote:Y tu mama tambien and Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia make for a fantastic double feature.

And I can't convey the degree to which I think Y tu mama is superior to Amores Perros.
I love both Y tu mama and Amores Perros, but I would have a hard time claiming that one is clearly better; apples to oranges. I think they're both brilliant.

Eeenyway, Y tu mama tambien and Cuaron's entry in the Harry Potter series are both fantastic. Cuaron's Potter flick is definitely head and shoulders above the other films in the series.

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#221 Post by justeleblanc » Mon Oct 01, 2007 2:49 pm

GringoTex wrote:Y tu mama tambien and Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia make for a fantastic double feature.
... for me to poop on.

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#222 Post by Rich Malloy » Mon Oct 01, 2007 4:37 pm

GringoTex wrote:And I can't convey the degree to which I think Y tu mama is superior to Amores Perros.
I can't believe someone would mention those two films in the same breath, much less that anyone could actually prefer "Perros" (or even admire it in the slightest way beyond that first story and Bernal's smoldering presence).

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Jeff
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#223 Post by Jeff » Mon Oct 01, 2007 4:56 pm

125100 wrote:Well other than both are Mexican and share the same actor in a leading role, no, but why do they need to have anything in common? So we can all be pretentious assholes and analyze the hell out of it.
I inquired as to what they might have in common because you suggested that Y Tu Mamá También "paled in comparison" to Amores Perros. I was just asking what the basis for such a comparison might be.
Last edited by Jeff on Mon Oct 01, 2007 8:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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GringoTex
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#224 Post by GringoTex » Mon Oct 01, 2007 8:11 pm

justeleblanc wrote:
GringoTex wrote:Y tu mama tambien and Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia make for a fantastic double feature.
... for me to poop on.
There's that. Then there's also the fascinating contrast between a gringo Mexican road trip and a homegrown one.

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colinr0380
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#225 Post by colinr0380 » Wed Oct 10, 2007 7:51 am

The use of cats twice in the film seems to be to create a sense of security - that if cats have chosen to be there this is a safe place to be. However I think there is also the suggestion that their presence suggests only a limited period of safety, not that the characters can relax and think they have finished their mission. The first cat appears climbing up Theo's leg in the farmhouse after Julian is killed, and the image of it clawing it's way up Theo's leg and his slight 'ouch' is followed by the scene when he overhears the conversation that makes it necessary to escape what had seemed to be their friends in the group.

The second cat appears in the Bexhill ghetto, and watches the tanks rolling by in the street below with Theo as Kee manages to briefly relax and enjoy feeding her daughter for the first time.
I forgot the first cat that Theo is shown sitting with on his first visit to Jasper's hideaway from the modern world, an environment that feels comfortable and safe that first visit but which is soon violated first just by the concerns of the outside world when Theo needs to use it as a safehouse, and then the outside world itself. I suppose little did Jasper know that Theo would be the chink in his hideaway's armour.
Last edited by colinr0380 on Wed Oct 10, 2007 10:13 am, edited 1 time in total.

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