I will admit that I was skeptical. I had heard that the novel Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell was impossible to adapt to the screen because of its six separate stories, that were told in a Russian doll sort of way–each story nestled into another. Although I have not read the novel, I was impressed by how writers/directors The Wachowskis and Tom Tykwer created one fluid story. A single narrative that weaves and intertwines the six stories in different time periods and in doing so, they are able to show a wide, ambitious scope that ends on an emotional, personal note. Brilliant. I have never seen anything like Cloud Atlas attempted in film before.
Honestly, I was still upset with The Wachowskis over Speed Racer and don’t get me started on the Matrix Trilogy (The Matrix could have been only the beginning–it could have been the Star Wars of the 21st century–it could have…but NO. Ruined. So sad.) I loved their ideas and their writing, but had grown cautious of getting too excited because it usually ended in disappointment. While attending the 2012 Fantastic Fest Film Festival I was fortunate enough to make it into a secret screening, with the Wachowskis in attendance, and was blown away. (Side note: The Wachowskis are articulate, intelligent and very funny!)
Cloud Atlas is amazing. Grand and sweeping. Intimate and very funny. Small and personal. Yet, with big themes and over-reaching moral questions. It addresses humanity, inter-connectivity, transformation and free will. Yes. It achieves ALL of that and more.
The visuals are incredible and the style is very Wachowski and Twkwer. I found myself marveling in the color and images before me. The cinematography and music wonderfully add to the experience. From a primitive culture to a futuristic urban landscape–Cloud Atlas never looks artificial. It is a beautiful universe. A beautiful universe that makes you question our existence and our connection to each other.
One of the strongest aspect is the acting. With each actor responsible for 4 to 6 distinct characters, it is truly a study in the craft and with the impressive cast it does not fail to entertain. Tom Hanks (my crush intensifies), Halle Berry (strong turnout), Jim Broadbent (scene-stealing good), Hugo Weaving (best, unexpected role), Jim Sturgess (beautiful performances), Doona Bae (haunting) and the many others must have had a blast with this. It is an actor’s dream to have this kind of opportunity (I would think) and be able to show their range.
Now, I am sure that many will find problems with Cloud Atlas. They may find it too big–too sweeping. They may not like the multiple roles on display. They may not appreciate the connected stories. But, all I can tell you is that I LOVE when I am able to lose myself completely in a film and that is what happened that day. I was lost and taken on a journey that will stick with me for a long time.
I am already waiting, excitedly, to watch it again. I am sure there are many things that I did not catch the first time and it will be fun to try to see what other surprises I can discover. That’s awesome because that is what I love about movies–finding new things every time I visit them and the good ones are the ones you want to visit over and over.
Love this commentary and trailer! Can’t wait for everyone to see it! I look forward to hearing all of your opinions…
- Over 80 Images from CLOUD ATLAS (collider.com)
- Cloud Atlas, Lana & Andy Wachowski Score Standing Ovation At Secret Fantastic Fest Debut (movieline.com)