Cloud Atlas

David Mitchell’s novel Cloud Atlas proceeds chronologically, with stories from 1849, 1931, 1973, 2012, 2144 and 2346, and then reverses that order to close each story in turn—but keeping each one still separate. The Wachowski/Tykwer film (2012), however, flips between the different stories and so time zones at will, possibly following narrative rules of which I am happy to be unaware. It must have given the editor, Alexander Berner, some nights, if not sleepless, at least full of confused dreams. So it’s a film to see more than once. (I think it will sell a great many copies on DVD.) However, I don’t think it will be an unpleasant obligation to see it again. It’s a helluva lot of fun, with great acting, amazing makeup and impressive fx. Also, it’s not emotionally demanding. I think this may simply be because we don’t stay with any one story for long enough to generate much empathy (as opposed to the alternative that each story is not engaging). I can easily imagine this being six films, and each of them being successful in its own right.

And what’s it all about? Such a hugely expensive ($100mill)—and independently funded!—film cannot take great ideological risks. It’s not about Motherhood, but perhaps the next best thing—certainly for an American film (pace Tykwer): that which I believe I saw in both Lincoln and … Django Unchained!

And why was it not nominated for an Oscar?


reviews | Garry Gillard | New: 27 February, 2017 | Now: 28 February, 2017