Film Criticism, Walter Benjamin, Aura, Critical Theory


In the world of Alfonso Cuarón’s Children of Men, the audience comes face to face with many scenes and shots that are filled with symbolism that it may become difficult to pick up on all the excellent directional moves made by Cuarón. This essay will closely analyze not only the clever placement of art but the heavy symbolic nature that each of these art pieces possess; furthermore, I will analyze the implications that these symbolic references bring to the film and how these implications complicate the film while furthering the difficult themes proposed by Cuarón. To achieve the highest understanding of the symbolism introduced by Cuarón, this essay will analyze the film according to Walter Benjamin’s theories proposed in “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction (1935).” This essay analyzes the importance of aura (an effect of a work of art being uniquely present in time and space) when considering art and how aura affects the emotional impact and symbolism raised by art. This concept of aura is expanded on and complicated by Nick Peim which allows for further application of the theory of aura. Cuarón’s film raises issues of government brutality and corruption, complacency, and tyrannous leaders. An overpowering theme of the film is the immorality that the British government manifests when enforcing their illegal immigration policies, and Cuarón critiques this fictional tyranny through artwork and dialogue throughout the film, yet the art scene in the early part of the film reinforces the audience’s understanding of these themes directly through the symbolism portrayed by the artwork scattered throughout the scene. These pieces of art include The Statue of David, Guernica, and Pink Floyd’s Animals album cover. Through these extravagant and sentimental art pieces, the audience can better understand the issues and social critiques raised by the film.

Issue and Volume

volume 16, issue 2



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