I finally watched Children of Men last night. Only the second film I've watched start to finish since Pob was born. When it finished, in fact before it finished, I was reduced to wracking sobs. I knew from about 10 minutes in that the film was going to destroy me, but somehow I couldn't stop watching. The bleakness of the world it portrayed got to me from the first minute, particularly that there were no good guys, everyone was in it for their own goals, including the so-called terrorists who wanted to liberate the country. Somehow the absence of children has created a world where either people don't care about anything any more, and hence commit suicide, or where they care passionately, without any barriers, about an ideal and are prepared to do anything to work towards what they think is right. The ideal, for the terrorists, has replaced any concern for individual humans, they have little fear for their own lives, and no care for the lives of others.
But the moment that recuced me to blubber was the walk that Theo and Kee take with the baby out of the building where the battle is going on. That everyone - soldiers, terrorists, fugitives alike - stops what they are doing to stare at the baby, to try to touch the baby - although in a gentle, rather than frightening way - brought home more than anything else in the film the utter devastation that not being able to have children has brought to the world. I wept because I remembered what it felt like to be just one individual, wanting to reach out and touch the babies I couldn't have, although I cannot really imagine what it would feel like if I was one of billions of people who felt the same way. I wept because I know how it feels to have our baby, to love her as much as I do, and to know that I have friends who are still reaching out but haven't been able to feel that love, friends who have stopped trying to have the baby, who ran out of runway. All that pain was beautifully portrayed on film, the hands, the faces, the arms, the eyes, the sotto voce singing of lullabies. It was utterly heartbreaking.
One thing that got to me, which presumably wouldn't have done before our recent issues, was the fact that Kee didn't seem to ever put the baby to the breast. When the baby was screaming, it seemed as if it would have been the 'natural' thing to do. "The baby must be STARVING," I was thinking, "why doesn't she feed her? Please let the baby be ok!" Perhaps the filmmakers felt that breastfeeding was a step too far for the viewing public, perhaps it just wasn't the issue, but I was so worried that this young girl wouldn't be able to care for her baby, having never seen anyone care for a newborn before, that she wouldn't know what to do. It didn't seem to be the message of the film, so I'm trying to take away a message of hope, but it was hard, the whole film was so bleak, I kept waiting for something else to go wrong.
It was a tough, tough film. All night I dreamt of not being able to feed my baby, of not being able to give birth at the right time, of trying to care for other people's babies. A long time ago I agreed with a friend that we didn't need to see films that were just horribly upsetting. I both wish and don't wish I was still following that agreement. Being that upset is horrible, but perhaps it's a good thing, to remember my own pain, to empathise again with the pain of others, to want to do anything I can to avoid a world without hope. Who knows what difficulties the world will get into during Pob's lifetime. I can't quite imagine an infertile world, but I can imagine a world heading for environmental disaster, a disaster even closer than it seems today. For now I will redouble my efforts to turn down the heating, to recycle, to give up plastic bags, to buy without packaging, the little things I do which I hope will help her inherit a world with hope. Strange the effect that one film can have.