David Mitchell's 'Cloud Atlas' is supposedly one of the 'inadaptable' novels that will pose challenging task for any screenwriter who attempts to translate it into silver screen. Against all odds, the team of writers comprising of the directors themselves still manage to pull it out workable. With six different stories interlocked in a series of events that transcends across the time and setting, Cloud Atlas is the year's most intriguing and most ambitious movie project ever made. The question here is will The Wachowskis and Tom Tykwer be able to provide a justified translation for this masterpiece or it merely lost in those translation?
Release Date: 21 February 2013
Running Time: 163 minutes
Distributor: Walt Disney Pictures
Director: Tom Tykwer, Lana Wachowski, Andy Wachowski
Screenplay: Tom Tykwer, Lana Wachowski, Andy Wachowski
Starring: Tom Tykwer, Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Jim Broadbent, Hugo Weaving, Jim Sturgess, Doona Bae, Ben Whishaw
Plot: Cloud Atlas explores how the actions and consequences of individual lives impact one another throughout the past, the present and the future. Action, mystery and romance weave dramatically through the story as one soul is shaped from a killer into a hero and a single act of kindness ripples across centuries to inspire a revolution in the distant future. Each member of the ensemble appears in multiple roles as the stories move through time.
Cloud Atlas comprises of several large-scale presentation of chain of events with mystifying connections of virtual faith, spiritual embodiment and incarnations. The stories involved are the 1850’s “The Pacific Journal of Adam Ewing”, 1931’s “Letters from Zedelghem”, 1975’s “Half-Lives: The First Luisa Rey Mystery”, present day’s “The Ghastly Ordeal of Timothy Cavendish”, dystopian future’s “An Orison of Sonmi-451” and post-apocalyptic “Sloosha’s Crossin’ and Ev’rythin’ After”.
For most part of the movie, The Wachowskis and Tykwer get it done correctly. The senses and elementary scenes are done with enough authenticity, emotional ride and space of creativity. In some aspects, this movie version respects and serves justice on the technicality that represents the works of the novel so well. The cinematography, production design, visual effects and musical scores are distinctively brilliant; with all helps in adding into the movie experience. While the movie gets the scenes right, some of the evolving and significance themes are somewhat blurry and often missed out. The significance of the birthmark in the novel does not get enough emphasizes in the movie. The repeating gags of “six” are not strongly portrayed.
However, the main letdowns of the movie are the plot organization and the choice of recycling attitude on core characters. The six convoluted and interconnected stories are supposed to be arranged in a single linear timeline, rather than as a series of parralel pathways. Casual movie-goers will likely to find the plot as confusing and messy. But the truth is that the plot relayed in the movie is no way near as confusing as in the novel. It is obvious that the writers decide to try to relate any popping questions, fundamental elements and intensity across the six stories. This 'here-and-here' approach can be very tiring as the scenes often jump from one specific story to another with poor relations, weak connections and resonances.
The depiction of multiple characters by the same actors is also crucial. The main theme of “Cloud Atlas” is supposedly about reincarnation, but this recycling attitude does not reflects this well. What more, there are often greeted with some awkward moments as when Donna Bae’s Korean complexion in a white character and Hugh Grant’s larger than life villain-ish roles are laughable and jagged.
In a nutshell, “Cloud Atlas” is an ambitious movie that has roughly equal hits and misses as the admirable attempt to bring this inadaptable novel into materialization and brilliant technicality companions are not able to offset some problems on plot progression and failure to embody the relevant themes successfully.
SIDE NOTE: The Oscar snubs this movie from music department. Good job OSCAR!!