Tom Tykwer (Run Lola Run) and the Wachowski siblings (Matrix trilogy) set out several years ago to find a way to film David Mitchell’s acclaimed novel Cloud Atlas . The author considered his book unfilmable due to it’s structure, a Chinese box hidden in a Russian-doll. It is also a centuries-spanning tale spread out across many continents with a lot of characters. The six stories in the book begin chronologically from the middle of the 19th century to far into the future after “The Fall” of modern technology man. In the book each story is told in a different literary style from letters to journal entries to a story-within-a-story, with each one influencing the next story. Each story is separate and not arranged into a cross-cutting of the action. The stories link organically which by the time you go into the future and back gives the book a depth and richness rooted in the pleasures of reading of each different style. Big caveat – don’t read the book right before the movie, it will significantly alter your expectations. Good for the book, not so good for the movie. If you like the movie then read the book.
How can you film all of those stories while keeping the magic that Mitchell created in his book? You can’t. The filmmakers decided to use a more standard movie narrative technique of cross-cutting between the action of the six stories. The real unique wrinkle the filmmakers give to the book is to have the actors play multiple characters in each f the six storylines. Sometimes they are good, sometimes they are bad. The cast includes Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Hugo Weaving (Wachowski fave), Ben Whishaw, Jim Sturgess, Doona Bae, Hugh Grant, Keith David, Susan Sarandon, James D’Arcy and the marvelous Jim Broadbent. Almost like a one those tent-pole 70’s disaster films like Towering Inferno or Poseidon Adventure.
Read the rest of the review at MILE HIGH CINEMA