Honestly, if you haven’t seen Children of Men, just go buy the DVD. It came out today, and it’s worth it.
I saw it in the theater back in January and never got a chance to see it again while it was still on the big screen, so I had been looking forward to today. I picked up the DVD on my way home from work and watched it tonight, and I assure you, it’s just as good the second time around.
First off, the movie is fantastic. There are a couple shocking scenes early on that keep you on edge for the rest of the film (and rightfully so). It’s the kind of movie where you would never think, “Is this almost over yet?” or, “I need to pee.” Granted, I stopped for a smoke halfway through this viewing, but only because Clive Owen smokes so much (see also: Is It Safe Yet, particularly the bit about Way of the Gun).
The story telling is great, but I left the theater raving about the cinematography. Honestly, I can’t think of a movie that was more impressive in this regard. There are at least three long scenes without a cut, and when I say “long scenes,” I mean a good five minutes each. As anyone who has seen it can tell you, the movie is almost a series of climaxes, but the climax scene - I don’t want to spoil it, but you know the one I mean - is a nine-minute uncut shot. And we’re not talking about an endless monologue; it’s the most intense nine minutes of the film (which is pretty intense as it is).
After seeing it the first time, I read an article saying that the shot was actually five takes spliced together digitally, but now I can’t find it. The IMDB FAQ for the movie links to an article on Access Atlanta (why Access Atlanta?) that says it was all done in one take, and some blood splatters on the lens were digitally removed after the fact (I didn’t notice the blood in the theater, but I was watching carefully for cuts this time through). I was a little less impressed when I heard it was a spliced-together shot, so it’s heartening to learn that the scene really was a single take. For those of you who have seen it - and I wouldn’t recommend this for those of you who haven’t, because you should watch the whole film - the first six minutes are up on YouTube, at least for now.