How do I begin to describe the epic tale that is Cloud Atlas?
For me, it like watching 6 films in 1. That may sound terrible, but I absolutely loved it. Whenever i start watching a new TV show, all I want to do is watch all of it at once, absorb as much as I can. In fact I feel that way about most films and TV shows, I just want more. This film quenched my thirst, in a way, because the 6 stories continued why the others did. But as they are all connected, it felt like the last story continued. Does that make sense?
It is one of the biggest and most expensive independent films ever made. During the four years of development, the Wachowskis and Tykwer lost financial backing so had to fund the $102 million through independent sources.
Spanning across centuries, its hard to explain each segment but here goes:
South Pacific Ocean, 1849. Adam Ewing, a young lawyer sets sail from California to the Chatham Islands to conclude a business deal.
Cambridge, England and Edinburgh, Scotland, 1936. Robert Frobisher, a bisexual musician goes to work for a famour composer, while composing his own opus, The Cloud Atlas Sextet and writing letters to his lover, Rufus Sixsmith.
San Francsico, California, 1973. Luisa Ray, a journalist, meets older Sixsmith who is now a scientist. He tells her about a conspiracy about the safety of a nuclear reactor.
UK, 2012. Timothy Cavendish, a washed up publisher, is trapped in a nursing home by his bitter brother when he needs to hide from Irish thugs whom he owes money to.
Neo Seoul, Korea, 2144. Somni 451, a genetically engineered fabricant (clone) server at a resturant recounts the events leading up to her execution.
The Big Island, 2321. Zachry, a valley tribesman leads a Meronym, a woman from a society who live with technology, into the mountains to find the Cloud Atlas, a communications station.
These are the bares bones of each story. I don't want to give anything more away as I know it will spoil the film/book for you. But you can expect something spectacular from each segment. The fact that all the actors play several parts was an excellent move. It also makes more sense, for me, as it does emphasise the point that we share our lives with others, not only our own selves but as Somni says, we are bound to others as well.
I could say I know what the overall theme/tie is. Love, slavery, fear, survival, betrayal and so on, but themes of the stories are closely knitted together as they are distant from each other. If you see it, you will understand and even then if you don't, well, the film wasn't for you.
The connections between stories and characters are brilliant, but I cannot begin to take on the book. In a way I'm glad I saw the film first. I have my copy on my shelf all ready for to start, one day.
Having not read the book yet, I'd love to hear what people think of the film compared to the book. I know that the Wachowski siblings and Tom Tykwer said that if David Mitchell, the author of this epic novel, didn't like the film, they would kill the project. But here the film is, so it must have done something right. Tell what you think.