Eric was certain to pick an NTSC-friendly film for his second selection, but prior to that (given the theme of his film) I decided to show the single greatest Beavis and Butthead episode ever: “Pregnant Pause”. It’s not really available on YouTube or in any format I know to be embeddable, but feel free to search it out.
It’s a pretty simple theme. Beavis has massive abdominal discomfort and keeps seeing references to pregnancy on TV. At the mini-mart he overhears two women talking: “So you went and got yourself pregnant, huh?” So he steals a pregnancy test, and when he pees on it, it turns yellow! Oh no! But finally it turns out he was just constipated.
The place…is England.
The year…is 2027.
Things…are not going so well. After 18 years of unexplained human infertility, the U.K. is basically the last place on earth with a functioning government. It’s hard to say who is worse – the xenophobic police state that rounds up asylum-seeking foreigners in detention camps, or the Fishes, a terrorist immigrant-rights group that conducts horrific bombing campaigns. One morning on his way to his bureaucratic job, our hero Theo, a former activist, narrowly misses being killed in a Fishes bombing. And Baby Diego, the last human known to have been born and a huge celebrity, has just been murdered in an argument over an autograph.
It’s all a bit much for Theo, so he begs off work saying that he’ll put in his time from home that day. So of course, he heads off to his friend Jasper’s hidden cottage to smoke out. Theo is just the sort of guy who is in need of some serious redemption.
Well, Theo gets his chance at redemption soon enough, when he is kidnapped by the Fishes. He thinks he’s in for it, but it turns out that the leader of the Fishes is his estranged wife Julian, whom he hasn’t seen for almost two decades – since their son died in a flu pandemic. She needs to get some transit papers for a refugee, and seeing as Theo’s cousin is a high-level government minister, the idea is that Theo could potentially secure them. There’s a good deal of money involved here for Theo, so he agrees.
Theo’s cousin is…remarkably rich. The downfall of society has allowed private collectors to get pieces like Michelangelo’s David – a bit worse for wear, but still…
Oh, he’s also got Picasso’s Guernica. But that’s not all!
He has a life-size reproduction of the cover of Pink Floyd’s Animals outside of his penthouse window. Seriously, I nearly crapped myself. And in all honesty, the papers end up never getting into the story, so I think the whole point of the episode was just to show off some fancy art.
Finally, the Fishes reveal their refugee to Theo – her name is Kee, and she’s about 8 months pregnant. This is the first pregnancy known to man in 18 years, and is thus an extremely precious thing, especially in a world that is being torn apart by the hopelessness of looming extinction.
Anyhow, Julian’s idea is to get Kee to the Human Project, a shadowy organization supposedly set up in the Azores and dedicated to fighting human infertility. It’s not entirely clear whether or not the Human Project even exists. Still, as one of several go-betweens, Julian has learned that a Human Project ship will be making a few swings by the coast, and the plan is to get Kee there and onto the boat.
Theo is set to accompany a baggily-dressed Kee as her “husband” on the trip to the coast, and things are beginning to go well between he and Julian after their 20-year separation. Then the real adventure starts. The car is ambushed on the road and Julian is killed by police before Luke, her second in command, kills two policemen and they escape. Luke takes over the Fishes and encourages Kee to abandon her plan to get to the Human Project, because it is now too dangerous, saying that they can try again once the child has been born.
However, waking up in the middle of the night, Theo observes the two “officers” that were “killed” by Luke come into the Fishes’ compound, and he sneaks around to eavesdrop and learns that the entire ambush was a sham, a coup intended to get Luke in charge and keep Kee’s baby in the U.K. to be used for political advantage for the Fishes. He informs Kee of this, and with one trusted companion (an aging midwife who was present at some of the last births on earth) they escape. They go to Jasper’s hidden cottage, and he sets them on a plan of breaking into a refugee camp, which is the last place that they can possibly catch up with the Human Project ship, if it even exists.
To cut things short, Jasper is killed by the Fishes stalling for time, Theo and Kee finally get into the compound, where Kee prematurely gives birth assisted only by Theo, and a massive battle erupts between the Fishes, who have followed the two to the refugee camp and the government who has followed the Fishes there. It’s all actiony and bullety and a foley artist’s dream, but in the end, Theo and Kee confront Luke and manage to escape.
They make their way to a rowboat at the cost of many refugee lives, and Theo, who turns out to be gutshot, dies. And Kee and her baby are sitting out in the fog, alone, on a rowboat waiting for a ship that may already be gone, or which may never have existed in the first place. Out of the mists comes a ship. The End.
It’s a really interesting film, even for all of its desires to take a perfectly good dramatic theme and turn it into a shoot-em-up. I think it does a very good job of exposition on the whole infertility setup, drawing you into the world without needing an explicit narrator to tell you the premise. And the fact that the infertility remains unexplained is a strength of the film. Perhaps the most stunning moments of the film come in the heat of the Fishes/government shootout in the refugee camp. Here we have two factions brutally killing each other and in order to escape, Theo and Kee take a desperate move – they walk out openly into the fray carrying the baby. The reactions of the army, how they stop fighting and stare in awe at the unexpected thing in front of their eyes – the most precious possible thing in the world – is just too powerful to put into words. And that’s the ultimate theme of the film. You have suddenly come into charge of the most precious thing in the world. What do you do? Theo, for his part, redeems himself.