The very impressively long scene in Alfonso Cuarón’s Children of Men is a six-and-a-half-minute-long climax shot in which Clive Owen tumbles through a fearsome battle. It took fourteen days to prepare for the single shot in which Clive Owen’s character searches a building under attack, and five hours for every time they wanted to reshoot it.
In 2006, it was an astonishing logistical achievement. If the same sequence were being shot today, it would probably be conjured up on a computer instead. But while digital backdrops tend to look artificial with a few years’ hindsight, the explosion at the start of Children of Men is still horribly credible.
Children of Men was directed and co-written by Alfonso Cuarón. The screenplay, based on P. D. James’ 1992 novel The Children of Men, was credited to five writers, with Clive Owen making uncredited contributions. The film takes place in 2027 when two decades of human infertility have left society on the brink of collapse. Illegal immigrants seek sanctuary in the United Kingdom, where the last functioning government imposes oppressive immigration laws on refugees. Owen plays civil servant Theo Faron, who must help a refugee (Clare-Hope Ashitey) escape the chaos. Children of Men also stars Julianne Moore, Michael Caine, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Pam Ferris, and Charlie Hunnam.