Children of the Damned (1963)

Children of the Damned (1963), directed by Anton Leader.

Made only three years after Village of the Damned (1960) but during the interval we have crossed over into an entirely different era. The Sixties, when everything changed. In particular, when dividing science fiction films into "classic" and "modern", that decade has a boundary line.

Instead of a peaceful country location we are in a gritty urban setting. The children are now a multi-racial set from different countries, although the leader is still an English boy. The government agents and military are a clumsy, violent lot. And the children have no Plan to take over the world -- when asked "Why are you here? What do you want?" Paul replies: "We don't know."

Cast into the world without guidance or explanation, they are just seekers looking for answers and want to be left alone while they figure it out. In the commentary track the screenwriter says it is a Cold War fable, but to me it seems amazingly prophetic of the 60s counterculture. The children are new people, trying to make a fresh start, like the Whole Earth Catalog hippies who went back to the land.

In the end there is just the slimmest chance of reconciliation before the universe plays a cruel joke and we have the bloodbath. Surprise: in the end the children would rather die than kill any more.

Writer John Briley later did Gandhi. His commentary track is mostly autobiographical. He says "I've always been political" and he spends a lot of time on that.