Creating a great film requires more than just a great story; it also demands a visual design consistent with the themes depicted in the film. Visual designs include the setting or set design, the lighting, the design of the costumes, the type of film grain used, and the overall color palette of the film. Without these key aspects no film could exist. In his 2007 film, Children of Men, Alfonso Cuaron utilizes visual designs to create verisimilitude in a dystopian future, as well as to reinforce the central theme of a world without children.
Through the use of key British set pieces in the opening scene, Cuaron creates a familiar setting in London. Double-decker buses and the iconic hat of "Bobbies"" stand out among the crowd of people. Other familiar images such as Big Ben and Hyde Park help to reinforce the likelihood of this future London. The rough film grain combined with the long shots also creates a sense of reality, producing a look more akin to a documentary than a major motion picture. The clothing worn by actors in the film also lands quite close to the clothing worn by people today. Other key elements of our world appear in the film such as the statue of David and a street art painting done by Banksy. The painting done by Banksy depicts two Bobbies kissing each other on a brick wall, however in the film the section of the wall appears freestanding inside of a building. The drastic change of location for these familiar icons promotes the sense of a different, maybe not so far off, future. .
Cuaron also utilizes visual design elements to reinforce the idea of a world without children, a frightening and quite plausible apocalypse. Promotion of multiple brands of legal suicide pills throughout the film enhances the idea of a population in full swing depression. The opening shot shows viewers a news anchor reporting the death of the youngest person on Earth, age 18. This blatantly states that there exist no children on Earth.