Cloud Atlas (2012)

Cloud Atlas (2012)I remember the breath-taking trailers for this epic sci-fi film, based on David Mitchells book Cloud Atlas (2012) which spans time and indeed space. At the time of release it was also seen as a mixed bag, over-long and complicated to really understand. A cast of credible actors playing multiple roles across the different times. From as far back as the beginning of the slave trade to a future where humanity has had to abandon our planet.  Connected with a thread that takes a while to really understand what is really going on. It’s far more complex to understand than Inception (2010) which does blow your mind but is easier to understand.

At first we are given a riddle of an introduction that we again slowly understand as the characters in their own times seek out the truths and goals. It’s hard to really explain all the strands on their own as they are all interconnected with one another. Each so very different in style but not in tone, seeking out a truth or freedoms that they want so much.

Beginning with the slavery era that sees Adam Ewing (Jim Sturgess) who first signs a trade deal for slavery begins a long journey of self discovery when he sails home when he meets and frees a slaves who returns the favour by saving him from a killer doctor, played by a very versatile and somewhat overworked Tom Hanks who is top form at times in this film.

Whilst further forward in time a fascinating strand that sees the strands of the film start to really connect is with a homosexual composer Robert Frobisher (Ben Whishaw) and Vyvyan Ayrs (Jim Broadbent) who together compose music that felt into the seventies in Halle Berry‘s first prominent strand. These two are a great match as they work together until one piece which they fight over leads to Frobisher leaving and spending the remainder of the film as a recluse composer, never able to really complete his work.

Whilst in the seventies where find Halle Berry a reporter who investigates a nuclear power plant for a paper , uncover a plot buy oil companies, putting her life and her lovers (Isaacs Sachs (Hanks) in real danger. A strand that sees some real danger and comedy.

However the real comedy comes in the more contemporary and very British strand where Broadbent really shines as a publisher who is committed to a home by his brother Denholme Cavendish (Hugh Grant) out of pure revenge for past mistakes. What ensues is a surreal nursing home escape that takes the edge of the serious tone of other strands

Before moving into the distant future in Neon Seoul where we follow a rebel automaton who is destined to spend her existence in a service as a slave to the consumer. A future that we maybe facing ourselves as we spend more and more time looking after the needs of others on the high street. However just one Yoona-939 (Xun Zhou) who goes on one of the longest journeys to become a free person from a otherwise programmed destiny to do something more profound, leading rebell forces in hopes of revealing the truth of their present to the masses who are oblivious, just enjoying themselves.

Ending in an apocalyptic future with again Hanks and Berry in a future where most of the Earth has been lost, only a few islands of tribal life, whilst others lives surrounded by fluid like technology. Together they have their trials to conquer. For Hanks’s Zachry a tribal man troubled by spirits who hold him back to live a cowards life. Whilst Berry’s Meronym searches for the last hope for the human race, that comes in the form of Yoona-939 ‘s teachings that are later understood as the Human race is dying out.

Of course this is all I can understand from the first sitting, far from being the complete picture of what is a complex film that needs more than one viewing for it all to sink in. And thats the draws you in, as much as its a visual feast for the eyes, these characters are connected in ways which go beyond a comet-like birthmark to indesribable emotions and connections. Wanting to succeed in life, not giving up on their goals and reveal the truth to the world. With so many characters, and such a small cast in comparison gives a rich film, at times its not clear who’se playing who, which adds to the mystery. As the credit role we see the subtlties of how the directors – the Wachowski Brothers and  Tom Tykwer have crafted this film, breaking it down to its strands, doing it any other way would be impossible to direct and produce, each leaving their mark on a multi-layered film.

It seems now that cinema is starting to tackle novels that are fighting the traditional adaptation route to film, such as this and Life of Pi (2012). Still this is rare as they take so long to make that we will rarely see them in our screens, needed to be understood before filming can even begin. Of course with Clod Atlas multiple views will be needed for it to really sink in and be understood, with many tales involved, this is sci-fi for the masses at it’s best, pushing you to really think and concentrate for the duration of a film.


One response

  1. One of my favorite movie experiences of all time.

    January 3, 2015 at 8:18 pm

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