Once the human body dies, what happens to the soul? As a man with Christian beliefs, I know that another world awaits us, but what exactly is a mystery. Heaven and Hell have different definitions for everyone. What if that the worlds were in are the utopias that we’ve been searching for? Though I’m not a believer in it, the idea of past lives fascinates me. If I were born in the eighteenth century, would I still be a writer? Or what about somewhere in the thirtieth century? I could possibly have ended up becoming something different. To think that amazes me, but I also fear that I would be separated from the people that I love. Would they join me in some way?
Several pasts lives are explored in the epic thriller, Cloud Atlas. This movie was based off of a novel of the same name that I haven’t read. It also examines different lives through different times periods and how each of these places connect our souls to the people we know. Something like this would be extremely difficult to translate from literature to film. The story has been given to be told from the same team that helmed The Matrix franchise, Lana and Andy Wachowski. Given that they have a very visual looking set of pictures, can they connect these stories in one film?
The movie stars many people like Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Jim Broadbrant, Jim Sturgess, Hugo Weaving, Hugh Grant, and Susan Sarandon as they play many characters through time. Through the magic of make up, prosthetics and digital effects, they become different people, races and even sexes. Through time, each story is connected as people recall tales and letters written to their later generations. Rather then telling it forward, the film takes a non-linear approach as each story takes certain events to connect them to the consequences of the future. Where does the audience visit?
The first story starts off in the eighteenth-century as a young lawyer smuggles a slave on a ship that’s taking them home to London. Next we travel to the nineteen-thirties as a musically gifted young man becomes the apprentice to a famous composer as he’s trying to keep his relationship with a lover. Then things shift to the nineteen seventies as a young journalist becomes involved in a scandal about an oil company tries to cover up a nuclear power plant. Then things come to the modern era as an old publisher becomes trapped in an retirement community with no escape. Cut to years later in 2123 in Neo-Seoul as a cloned waitress starts a revolution in a dystopian future. Finally, somewhere in the later thirtieth century, a primitive human leads a leader of an advanced civilization to the top of an old satellite.
As you can see there is a lot from this movie to take. Cloud Atlas sees itself as extraordinary, but it only falls under the good category. As in The Matrix, the effects and makeup are unbelievable. No character that each actor plays looks alike. I would have rather had an anthology-style movie then a clumsily edited project like this. The first hour is a complete bore, but is saved by an emotionally building climax with an impressive payoff. The Wachowskis did their best to give us spellbinding about our connections, and for the most part do.
I’ll give this three and a half images of the Metropolis of Neo- Seoul and a half out of five. Cloud Atlas isn’t as smart as it thinks it is. I want to watch this again to try and fill in the gaps to see the connections.