I just finished reading the novel “The Children of Men”, by the late P.D. James, and I’ve seen the movie twice. The first time I saw the movie, I thought it was fantastic – the second time, I was disappointed in it. I’m going to be getting it soon on DVD from Netflix, and I’m curious to see what a third watching will be like, now that I’ve read the novel. I was quite surprised to see how much different the novel was than the movie – they really changed a lot of things in order to make it into a good movie. I’d say they did a fantastic job of changing and adding things to accomplish that.
Reading the novel felt a lot like being inside the head of the main character, Theo Faron, I suppose because P.D. James was a literary author and what I’m used to reading is science fiction and historical fiction written by science fiction authors. It took a little getting used to, but I did get used to it. There was a LOT of Theo thinking about the past, present, and future between what might be considered action scenes in a movie. A lot of what they added to the plot was to increase the excitement and opportunity for suspense and visual scenes.
In the movie Theo and Julian were a divorced couple … in the novel, she was just a student he barely remembered teaching. The biggest change was that in the novel JULIAN is the one who is pregnant! The movie had somebody else be pregnant, choosing an African woman, no doubt to work with the increased showing of how poorly immigrants were being treated. Ironically, one of those immigrants may become the person who saves the world. Another huge difference is that the movie goes into the prison colony, while the novel just talks about it and how bad things are in there. The movie uses it to great effect to show how bad things have become in this world.
The movie adds the concept of a mysterious organization that will be able to accept and care for the baby, with the constant uncertainty of whether or not this organization actually exists and whether or not they will show up to help. In the book, it’s really just the Government and the concern that they will NOT be helpful.
The terrorist organization, in the novel “The Five Fishes” and in the movie, just “The Fishes”, is quite a lot more developed in the movie, where it becomes an adversary, while in the novel it is just an ineffective small group.
I liked the movie better than the book, but I ‘m glad that I read it, anyway. Everyone always says they liked any book better than the movie made from it … but I wonder, do people just like the one that they experienced first? Especially if they are both as good as each other, I would bet that would be it.