“Children of Men” is adapted from a 1992 novel by P.D. James; Alfonso Cuarón’s movie was released 14 years later in 2006. In the book, the setting is 2021, 29 years into the future from the time of its release. In the movie, the dystopian future is only 21 years out from the release date.
Speaking to ComingSoon shortly before the film’s wide U.S. release in late 2006, Cuarón was asked if the timeline was adjusted to avoid the film looking like “Minority Report,” with “supersonic cars, special effects, and crazy architecture.” Cuarón confirmed that wasn’t the type of movie he wanted to make, to his art department’s chagrin. He added:
“They undusted all the old rejections from science fiction movies they had done, they were so excited to do this movie that took place in the future. They started showing me all these amazing things. Supersonic cars, buildings, gadgets and stuff and I was like, ‘You guys this is brilliant, but this is not the movie we’re doing. The movie we are doing is this,’ and I brought in my files. It was about Iraq, Somalia, Sri Lanka, Northern Ireland, the Balkans, Chernobyl and I said this is the movie we are doing. The rule I set is this movie is not about imagination, it is about reference.”