Cloud Atlas

Cloud Atlas (Tom Tykwer, Lana & Lilly Wachowski*, 2012)

An exploration of how the actions of individual lives impact one another in the past, present and future, as one soul is shaped from a killer into a hero, and an act of kindness ripples across centuries to inspire a revolution.

Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Jim Broadbent, Hugo Weaving, Jim Sturgess, Doona Bae, Ben Whishaw ...

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 Tykwer/Wachowski film, 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 or streaming.) 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?

*formerly Larry and Andy Wachowski

reviews | Garry Gillard | New: 27 February, 2017 | Now: 24 March, 2017