The street battle where Theo (Clive Owen) has to take cover in a battered building caused concern for the studio, as it took fourteen days to prepare this one shot, with a delay of five hours every time it had to be re-shot. It was shot over the course of two days, but only one complete take was actually captured on film. In the middle of one take, some blood spattered on the camera lens. Writer and Director Alfonso Cuarón nearly ruined this take by shouting "Cut!", but his voice was obliterated by the sound of tank and gunfire. Looking at the footage, Cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki persuaded Cuarón to leave it in, and that is the shot that appears in the final movie.
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In the movie, the infertility crisis is the result of all women being infertile. In the original novel by P.D. James, it's the result of all men producing no sperm.
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This movie contains three extended tracking shots: when Kee gives birth (three minutes and nineteen seconds), an ambush on a country road (four minutes and seven seconds), and a raging street battle (seven minutes and thirty-four seconds). Through careful editing and a little digital help, each of these scenes are not actually all one seamless shot, but very subtly spliced together.
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The birth of Kee's baby was achieved by putting Clare-Hope Ashitey into a set-piece which had a fake lower body. A prop baby was pushed out of it for Clive Owen to hold. The prop baby was later digitally erased, and replaced by a fully moving CGI baby. Other effects, such as breath vapor, were also added digitally.
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When Miriam (Pam Ferris) is taken off the bus in the refugee camp, you can hear the song "Arbeit Macht Frei" by The Libertines. "Arbeit macht frei," meaning "Work shall set you free", was written above the entrances of all Nazi death and concentration camps of World War II (with the exception of Buchenwald, where the entrance read "Jedem das Seine", engl.: "to each his own").
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Theo (Clive Owen) does not use or even touch a gun at any point throughout the entire movie.
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Almost every shot contains an animal, usually a dog.
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The long shot when the Fiat Multipla is attacked by terrorists, with all of the passengers inside, demanded a camera rig that could rotate within the car. They used a rig developed by Doggicam Systems, and controlled by a stunt driver. A vehicle was modified to enable seats to tilt and lower actors out of the way of the camera, and the windshield was designed to tilt out of the way to allow camera movement in and out through the windshield. The single shot was shot in six takes over four locations, requiring a lot of transition work from the visual effects house Double Negative as it pans around inside the car. The cocktail, stunt driver, and motorcycle (from the moment it hits the car), windshield, blood, and roof, were all computer rendered with 3-D animation.
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Theo never gets to smoke an entire cigarette.
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Writer and Director Alfonso Cuarón said in one interview that he wanted to shoot this movie like The Battle of Algiers (1966), rather than Blade Runner (1982), almost like a documentary about something that happened back in 2027.
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The cover of the Pink Floyd album "Animals" features a floating pig above the Battersea Power station, the "Ark of the Arts" in this movie. This pig can be seen when Theo's car enters the Ark, and later when Theo speaks to his cousin. The album was released in 1977. This movie was set in 2027, the LP's 50th Anniversary.
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When Miriam (Pam Ferris) is taken off the bus at Bexhill, the camera pans by several cages with prisoners inside. One of them is the infamous "hooded man" from the Abu Ghraib prison torture pictures. He is seen in the exact pose as the real pictures.
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Writer and Director Alfonso Cuarón stated that he "didn't want to make a film that ends when the credits roll. He wanted to make a film that, when the final credits roll...that's really the beginning of the film."
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Sir Michael Caine plays an award-winning political cartoonist. In his house, you can see some of his cartoons in the background. They were drawn by Steve Bell, an award-winning political cartoonist for The Guardian newspaper.
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When Theo is walking down the ramp on Battersea Power Station, a stencilled image of two policemen kissing can be seen on a wall. The image was created by "Banksy", a British "guerilla artist" who specializes in that kind of work. Other Banksy works appear in this movie, including a stencilled image of a child looking down a shop.
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The statue of David seen in the Ark of Arts is an existing movie prop, and it was filmed intact; however, during production, an Italian article was written about the loss of Italian cultural heritage, showing the statue with a missing leg. The idea stuck, and a part of the statue's left leg was therefore digitally removed in post-production.
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Kee naming her daughter after Theo and Julian's child Dylan is especially fitting, since the Welsh name is given to mean "son of the sea" or "born near the sea". Kee gives birth in the Bexhill refugee camp on the coast. She names Dylan in the final scene, which takes place on the water as Kee and Theo wait for the Human Project ship.
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The opening terrorist attack in Fleet Street was filmed only two weeks after the real thing happened to devastating effect in London by Al-Qaeda terrorists.
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Animals like Theo. The ginger cat on Jasper's sofa, the dogs at Tomasz and Emily's farm (to which he even comments the dogs don't like anyone), and the kittens in the farm house that crawl up Theo's leg.
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Writer and Director Alfonso Cuarón chose not to read P.D. James' original novel, as he feared it would compromise his vision for the project.
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At the beginning of this movie, as Theo leaves the coffee shop, a tall pointed building can be seen in the background. This building is called The Shard, and its construction began in 2009, three years after the movie was filmed. It was digitally added to the movie, which took place in 2027, sixteen years after The Shard was due to be completed.
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This movie never explains the reason for the infertility. This has been attributed to Cuarón's dislike for expository film: "There's a kind of cinema I detest, which is a cinema that is about exposition and explanations." He once said. "It's become a medium for lazy readers. Cinema is a hostage of narrative. And I'm very good at narrative as a hostage of cinema."
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P.D. James was reportedly very pleased with the finished movie.
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The woman who gives them the room, Marichka (Oana Pellea), is speaking Romanian. When Syd (Peter Mullan) comes to take them she says "Nu va duceti cu ei. Stati aici" It translates to "Do not go with them, stay here!"
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After Screenwriter Paul Chart wrote the first version of the screenplay, it was re-written a few times by other screenwriters including Mark Fergus, Hawk Ostby, Timothy J. Sexton, and Alfonso Cuarón. Finally the final version was written by David Arata, Cuarón, and Sexton. Clive Owen's insights greatly impressed Cuarón, and he contributed a great deal of uncredited work to the final script.
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Newspaper headlines throughout this movie read: Raid nabs refugees' weapons cache, AFRICA DEVASTATED BY NUCLEAR FALL OUT, U.S. TROOPS FULL ATTACK, EXTREMIST EXPLOSION A RIGHT ROYAL RIP OFF: CHARLES SHOULD BE THRONE OUT, MILITIAS OCCUPY CINCINNATI, BOZEMAN & SPOKANE, CHAOS IN REFUGEE CAMPS, FERTILITY DRUG KILLS! SURGEON ARRESTED, HORMONE ATTACKS: VIOLENT REACTION, 100 Suicides: Nation in Denial, RUSSIA IN CRISIS: Massive migration, Police put mosques under surveillance, Gatherings are forbidden, BOMBING OF SAUDI PIPELINE DISRUPTS WORLD'S OIL SUPPLY (Photo by Janice Palmer), REFUGEES BLAMED FOR INCREASE IN TERROR ATTACKS (Thursday, April 6, 2018), SOUTH COAST TOWNS TURNED INTO REFUGEE CAMPS (Tuesday, February 11, 2020), PM DENIES "TORTURE" OF BRITISH CITIZENS, ALLEGATIONS OF ABUSE DISMISSED AS A SHAM, DIRTY BOMB DETONATED IN MUNICH (Report by Photojournalist Janice Palmer), England bans ALL immigration completely, 25% INFERTILITY RATE (December 21, 2008), Two years since last baby born, NO BABY HOPE ADMIT SCIENTISTS, WAR AND FAMINE LEAD TO MASS MIGRATION, JANICE PALMER questions Britain's ethical response to the refugee situation, MASSIVE MIGRATION, CHANNEL TUNNEL CLOSED, All foreigners now ILLEGAL, Refugees mass on Europe, MI5 DENY INVOLVEMENT IN TORTURE OF PHOTOJOURNALIST (photo of Janice Palmer. Monday, July 16, 2018).
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When Theo enters the dining room in Battersea power station, the large black-and-white mural behind him is Pablo Picasso's "Guernica". The same image is drawn on the wall of the tunnel which Theo and Kee use to escape in the rowboat. The painting was Picasso's reaction to General Francisco Franco's bombing of Guernica, Spain, the Basque capital, during the Spanish Civil War, which killed an estimated one thousand six hundred civilians.
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DIRECTOR TRADEMARK (Alfonso Cuarón): Use of long, continuous, and digitally blended shots.
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When we first see Julian (Julianne Moore), she is in the interrogation room with Theo (Clive Owen). Just after she states her name as "Julian", you can see a headline behind Theo that prominently displays the word "Moore", the actress' real name.
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At the start of the long-take at the riot scene, you can hear demonstrators shouting "Huyo mtu anakuja" repeatedly at a distance. This is Swahili for "That man is coming".
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One of the most difficult scenes to film, from a production design standpoint, was the moment when Clive Owen's kidnappers take him to a room covered in newspaper. Every story on every newspaper had to be created specially for this scene, even though they're barely glimpsed.
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The strange song played by Jasper in his house is a remixed version of "Omgyjya Switch7" by Aphex Twin.
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In the scene where Jasper is describing how he and Theo met, and the death of Theo's son Dylan during a flu pandemic, you can hear choral music in the background. The music is Gustav Mahler's "Kindertotenlieder" or "Songs on the Death of Children". The text of the piece is taken from a set of poems written by German poet Friedrich Rückert. The poems were written in an effort to cope with the loss of his own two children to scarlet fever.
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The title of the source novel and the movie, "Children of Men", comes from Psalm 90: "Lord, thou hast been our dwelling place in all generations. Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the Earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God. Thou turnest man to destruction; and sayest, Return, ye children of men. For a thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night."
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When Theo arrives at work in the second scene, the words "Ministry of Energy" are placed above the doors. This is in reference to George Orwell's "1984", which shares many of the same themes as this movie. A recurring plotline in "1984", was that the government had terrifying "Ministries" for various specified functions.
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Before Theo (Clive Owen) meets Jasper (Sir Michael Caine), a woman is speaking in a foreign language. The language is Serbian, the translation is: "Excuse me, we're hungry, excuse me, we're thirsty, please. It must be a mistake, please."
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This was the first theatrical movie known to legally use a sample from Freesound, licensed under a Creative Commons, in its production. The sound used was "male_Thijs_loud_scream.aiff" posted by the user thanvannispen to Freesound.org, and this movie properly attributes the sample in the credits.
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The computer used in Jasper's hideout to show the video feeds of intruders breaking in, is an Apple Twentieth Anniversary Macintosh, released in 1997. In this movie, it would be thirty years old.
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Julianne Moore was cast as Julian, as Writer and Director Alfonso Cuarón wanted an actress who had "the credibility of leadership, intelligence, and independence."
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Jasper (Sir Michael Caine) drives a Citroën CX with some plastic add-ons in the front and back. The last one was produced in 1990. Other cars in the movie are the Renault Modus, Renault Avantime, Renault Megane II, and Fiat Multipla. There is also a wreckage of a Peugeot 206. All of the "newer" cars in the movie were deliberately made to look aged and battered, despite being relatively recent models.
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After seeing Charlie Hunnam's performance in Cold Mountain (2003), Alfonso Cuarón called him up and offered him the role of Patric.
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Alfonso Cuarón first started working on the screenplay before he made Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004). While he was directing the Harry Potter installment, David Arata re-wrote Hawk Ostby's and Mark Fergus' screenplay. This was the version that made Clive Owen sign on. (The screenplay was later re-worked by Cuarón and Timothy J. Sexton, with significant input from Owen.)
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A native Arabic speaker is heard to speak the phrase "enzil taht, enzil taht, enzil, enzil ya hamar" which means "get down, get down, down, down you donkey" to some off camera person at the moment when Theo Faron is about to leave a bus where a bunch of Arabic gathered members were hiding from shoot-out near Bexhill tower block.
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The cities shown in the newscast that declares "The World Has Collapsed: Only Britain Soldiers On" are, in order: Paris, Moscow, Washington, Kuala Lumpur, Tokyo, Brussels, Hong Kong, Berlin, Jakarta, New York City, Stockholm, Rome, Shanghai, Caracas, Copenhagen, Mexico City, Amsterdam, Atlanta, Geneva, Marseilles, Lisbon, Seoul, Singapore, San Diego, Naples, Boston, and Antwerp. Julian mentions to a horrified Theo that her parents were in New York City "when it (an unspecified catastrophe) happened". In the opening newscast, an image of a mushroom cloud can be seen hanging over New York City, in images reminiscent of 9/11/2001, possibly due to a terrorist nuclear attack. Also, Theo and his cousin discuss another unspecified disaster that took place in Madrid, Spain.
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In an earlier version of the script, Jasper (Sir Michael Caine) and Theo (Clive Owen) watch as Janice (Philippa Urquhart) participates in a mass suicide organized by Quietus. Later on, Jasper lets himself get mauled by guard dogs in order to help Theo, Kee (Clare-Hope Ashitey), and Miriam (Pam Ferris) reach Bexhill.
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The song that Kee sings to her baby is a lullaby from Ghana called "Kaa fo", which means "do not cry".
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While driving to Jasper's (Sir Michael Caine's) house you can hear Kee (Clare-Hope Ashitey) and Miriam (Pam Ferris) chanting "Om Mani Padme Hum", which is a Buddhist mantra, meaning "The Pearl in the Lotus Flower".
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This movie and its source novel are full of religious imagery. Befitting a story about a baby with the potential to save all of humanity, there are several parallels drawn between Kee and Mary, the mother of Jesus. When Theo first sees that Kee is pregnant, she is in a stable (as Mary gave birth to Jesus in a manger); in his shock and surprise, he swears, "Jesus Christ!" When Theo asks who the father is, Kee at first jokes that she is a virgin, another nod to Mary. The rebel group that Julian works with is called "The Fishes"; the fish has been a symbol of Christianity since the second century A.D. The name of the main character, Theo, is derived form the Greek word for "god". The title "Children of Men" is from a quotation from Psalm 90.
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The song heard when Theo is heading towards the Ark of Arts, is "The Court of the Crimson King" by King Crimson, released in 1969.
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At one point, Kee was going to name her baby, "Froley". This name has no historical origin, and was simply created for this movie.
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Strawberry Cough is a real strain of marijuana.
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The van the Fishes use to kidnap Theo has a Holden & Sons inscription written on it. It is a reference to J.D. Salinger's main protagonist in "The Catcher in the Rye", Holden Caulfied, who struggles throughout the book with rebellion against the system, which he finds oppressive, while also dealing with themes of maturity and identity.
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Kee's name is a homophone for "chi" (which can also be pronounced "chee") which means the energy or force of life itself, and also "key", alluding to her motherhood being the key to humanity's survival.
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Special effects house Double Negative created a composite shot of Theo's approach to the Ark of the Arts by pasting a bridge over the M3 roadway in Surrey in front of the Battersea Power Station.
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Dmitri Shostakovich's "Symphony No. 10" can be heard briefly playing in the Gypsy's house.
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For the first week of release at Leicester Square, London, there was a mistake on the theater marquee, declaring the title to be "Children of Me".
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This is the second of two movies in the same year, in which Clive Owen and Chiwetel Ejiofor appeared. The other being Inside Man (2006).
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In the Bexhill tower block scene, Theo is wearing a London 2012 Olympics fleece. During the bidding process which ran from July 2003 to December 2005, London bid successfully to host the XXX (2012) Olympiad. Other cities that bid were Havana, Istanbul, Leipzig, Madrid, Moscow, New York City, Paris, and Rio de Janeiro.
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According to information from the newscast in the opening scene, and the date this movie begins, Baby Diego was born on June 21, 2009.
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In the city of Bexhill, the demonstrators are crying the Arabic phrase "Allah-o-Akbar" meaning "Allah (God) is the greatest".
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The first time in his long career, that Sir Michael Caine portrayed a character who not only farted, but also smoked marijuana.
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Many of the service rifles carried by the British armed forces are the XM8 rifle. It was intended to replace current U.S. M16/M4 variant service rifles by 2015 to 2020, but the U.S. Defense Department cancelled its contract with the rifle's manufacturer, Heckler & Koch, in 2005. The rifle is now considered experimental.
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The first of two movies released in the U.S. in 2007 that featured Clive Owen in a role protecting a newborn child. The other being Shoot 'Em Up (2007), in which he played an ambiguously named gunman who helped a woman give birth and protect her child from assassins.
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Included amongst the "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die", edited by Steven Schneider.
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It is known according to Islamic literature, that the prophet Muhammad ascended to Heaven on a white horse-like creature named Buraq. In a long fighting scene, a white horse is seen during the Islamic rally.
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Police helmets in the UK at the time of the film's release show ER on them which stands for "Elizabetha Regina", which is Latin for Queen Elizabeth. Helmets in this film show CR which stands for means "Carolus Rex" (King Charles) and that her son and Prince of Wales has since acceded the throne. This is confirmed by the newspaper headline: Charles Should Be Throne Out.
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Clive Owen and Charlie Hunnam played the part of King Arthur: Owen in King Arthur (2004), and Hunnam in King Arthur: Legend of the Sword (2017).
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Jasper (Sir Michael Caine) listens to Franco Battiato's cover of The Rolling Stones' song "Ruby Tuesday". Katey Sagal sang a cover of the song, which was used on Sons of Anarchy (2008). This movie and the television show featured Charlie Hunnam.
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At Battersea Power Station, Theo enters a room with Picasso's 'Guernica' in the background. The same painting is featured in the 1983 cult science-fiction film '2019: After the Fall of New York', which is also about protecting the last fertile woman on Earth. Possibly, this is a nod from the filmmakers to acknowledge the similarities in theme between the movies.
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Aside from the brief scene where Jasper prepares the suicide kit for his wife and dog, Theo is in every scene in this movie.
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Theo Faron is Greek for "God of Lighthouses".
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"Shantih, shantih, shantih", which Miriam says over Julian's dead body, Jasper says when he finds out Kee is pregnant, and appears at the very end of the credits, is the final line of T.S. Eliot's "The Wasteland", a poem that deals with the theme of infertility in the post World War I world. Originally from the Upanishads, it roughly translates to "the peace that passes understanding."
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Ian, one of the Fishes who kidnap Theo, is seen earlier in the seat behind Theo on the train to visit Jasper near the start of this movie. Ian is later seen in the van when they let Theo go back in London. It likely explains how the Fishes knew to find Theo at Jasper's after the farm escape.
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In this movie, Theo and Julian's son Dylan died from a disease epidemic, while in the book, Julian's character was the one that is pregnant, and the one Theo is protecting. In the book, Theo is married, and divorced Helen, and had a daughter named Natalie, who was killed when Theo backed out of the driveway and accidentally ran her over. This movie and the book show this death as the reason for either relationship not working. The movie changed and combined Julian and Helena, while creating Kee.
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The name of the drug that is advertised throughout, "Quietus", provides a clue to its function ("quietus" is an antiquated medical name for the moment of death). It is also an allusion to William Shakespeare's Hamlet, who contemplated making his "quietus" with a "bare bodkin" (unsheathed dagger) when discussing suicide.
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When Patric (Charlie Hunnam) executes the Russian man, who is helping Theo and Kee to find a boat, he is singing a local Newcastle song called "The Blaydon Races". With a thick accent from the area known as Geordie, you can hear him sing "Ah me lads, ye shudda seen us gannin', We pass'd the foaks alang the road just as they wor stannin'; Thor wis lots o' lads an' lassies there, aal wi' smiling faces, Gannin' alang the Scotswood Road, to see the Blaydon Races."
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