The opening to the 2006 thriller Children of Men begins with a blank screen for nine seconds, with a further 14 seconds that have some studio and production credits over this blank screen, with a diegetic news report playing. This serves the purpose of disorienting the audience, as they would be expecting to see something on-screen (that is the general convention of film). This develops the common thriller themes of entrapment and isolation as the audience feels trapped and isolated by not being able to see what is going on, despite being able to hear that quite important sounding news is being read. This has a particular impact after the brightly coloured studio logos played just before the film began, since the audience is suddenly trust into shadow. The diegetic news track helps to establish the world that this film is set in, this world is clearly in some turmoil, however the turmoil described by the headlines are only slightly exaggerated versions of many issues being discussed today, conveying how this film may be quite relevant to today’s problems. Perhaps taking a voyeuristic stand point towards them, as suggested by the blankness of the opening.
After this 23 seconds of black, there is a sudden smash cut to a crowded café, again displaying the common Thriller theme of entrapment as there is virtually no space for movement, this is, however, broken by our protagonist walking straight down the middle of the room, seemingly bringing the audience out of the depressing coffee shop, the feeling of being rescued is created as the camera follows him out of the café (the café is depressing seeming as it is full of people wearing muted colours, who are looking sad while listening to news about a dead person, as well as the character’s dull costuming). Notably, the only cut in this sequence is when the ‘protagonist’ glances up at the TV, so perhaps rather than him saving the audience he is a vessel for the audience to view this slightly augmented world through, establishing ideas of voyeurism, a common Thriller theme.
Once our vessel/protagonist leaves the café, the audience gets to see the rest of the city that this café is in (London), there is traditional London iconography such as red buses, however there are also things such as makeshift rickshaws, commonly associated with poorer, slightly slum-like places, conveying how some of the turmoil that has happened in this alternate future has possibly lowered standards of living. The title fonts used are, also, quite basic fonts, conveying how society has fallen from the grandeur that it currently enjoys. This establishes a possible point that the director is trying to convey with this film — that despite us thinking that we’re so developed, we could easily fall. Furthermore, this idea is displayed, when the coffee shop explodes, this shop isn’t some far fetched looking place, it could exist anywhere. The noise of the explosion, also, develops the thriller theme of running water, as the lingering ringing sounds like water, which is slightly ironic as the fire from the explosion could benefit from some water being doused on it. As well as this, our ‘protagonist’ seems less innocent as he managed to leave just before the explosion went off, creating a possible enigma for the film.