Directed by Andy and Lana Wachowski, Tom Tykwer
Released on 22nd February 2013
Firstly it’s an epic length nearly three hours and is based on
the 2004 novel written by British author David Mitchell. I was battling
throughout with tiredness and the coldness of screen number three at the
FACT cinema and was seriously starting to wonder what the attractions
of going to the cinema really are?
In many ways I think Cloud Atlas would be better as a four part mini
TV series and it may serve the story and viewer better. There are six,
yes six separate but inter-related stories beginning in the 19th century
and moving through to a distant future. The film jumps back and forth
in time, hops around the world and even jumps off planet at the end. The
writer was obviously trying to tell us something profound and decided
to wrap that message up in interlinked characters that cross generations,
genders, continents and cultures. The novel was adapted to film by directors
Tom Tykwer and the Wachowskis (of the Matrix film series).
Cloud Atlas makes full use of all the lead actors/actresses in numerous
guises up to six each. There are numerous examples of latex false noses,
on one level this is almost comical, especially when Tom Hanks gets a
very obvious large nose as one character. Tom Hanks also does a very poor
Irish accent at one point, very reminiscent of Dick Van Dyke’s famously
poor cockney accent in Mary Poppins. With all the main characters having
multiple latex make overs at various points this becomes a spot the actor/actress
game, which can distract from the story. The oriental actress is given
a Western look, complete with blue contact lenses and European nose and
a European actor is given the latex make over to look Korean. A couple
of the characters looked unrecognisable as the opposite gender and you’ll
be hard pushed to recognise which actor/actress is playing them.
So what exactly is Cloud Atlas about then?
According to the author the title itself "Cloud Atlas," the
cloud refers to the ever changing manifestations of the Atlas, which is
the fixed human nature which is always thus and ever shall be and the
book's theme is predacity, the way individuals prey on individuals, groups
on groups, nations on nations, tribes on tribes. You’ll need to
watch this film more than once for it to click as it squeezes a lot of
story and visuals into nearly three hours.
Did I enjoy it? Well it was challenging watching it in a cold cinema
and yes I did complain about it. I think you need to prepare yourself
for a long sit down to watch and interpret the film. I will watch it again
and I don't regret paying out to see it, next time I will be more comfortable
and therefore more attentive.