Friday, October 19, 2012

“Cloud Atlas” – Movie Review



This week, my movie class began with a screening of “Cloud Atlas” by The Wachowski Siblings (formerly The Wachowski Brothers), starring Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Hugo Weaving and Hugh Grant.


Over the course of the vast history of the world – including visions into the future – a group of mysteriously related people are followed throughout the centuries showing how their actions are ultimately interconnected and influenced by their ancestors. 


“The Cloud Atlas Sextet” is a piece of music that was composed during the 1800’s and somehow manages to resonate throughout six centuries.  In each century, we are told a story of the individuals who most influenced the particular event for their given period of time in the history of the world:  the composer of the piece, a lawyer on an ocean voyage, an investigative journalist in the 1970’s, a book publisher and, in the future, a restaurant worker and a tribe of survivors following a devastating event that leaves behind a barbarian civilization. 

While the story of each individual continuously bounces around and ostensibly seems somewhat disjointed, we are periodically reminded of a most unusual hereditary trait that maintains a thread which provides an unexpected – and inexplicable – continuity that ultimately ties everything together, although the characters may not know or understand this while in the midst of the tumultuous events that not only define their present existence, but also, shapes the future of the world and how it is defined by their descendants. 

Ultimately, events lead the future of mankind to decide whether or not its proletariat has the will to not only survive, but to survive without the encumbrances of either enslavement by the powerful or oppression of the mighty.  Will the future generation either comprehend or heed the advice and information supplied to them by their predecessors or will they merely act as so many sheep to follow whatever they are told to believe? 



(/muhnj/)  A derogatory term meaning to imperfectly transform information.

Throughout the course of writing this blog – and the portion that contains the movie reviews in particular – I am occasionally stumped at how to describe something.  This is especially evinced in the story details of certain motion pictures I see in my class.  Never has writing a film’s story explanation been so challenging for me as it has with my viewing of “Cloud Atlas”.  Literally, I don’t know what to say.  Take that for what you will, which may not be a very clear or well-written review.  Nevertheless, it is quite sincere. 

The Wachowski Siblings (formerly The Wachowski Brothers, until one of them decided to have a sex change operation) are perhaps most famous for giving us The Matrix Trilogy in all its cinematic grandeur and flaws (I only found the first installment of this trilogy to be particularly worthwhile).  Nevertheless, they have decided to embark on an even more ambitious project (and I use the word “ambitious” as a rather severe understatement) by giving us “Cloud Atlas”, which is based on a book which many considered impossible to make into a movie. 

In our class discussion following the screening, it would seem that the movie may have made a greater impact on those who have already read the novel on which it is based.  For the rest of us, we are either left completely puzzled or totally stupefied, as if we had all been collectively intellectually tasered.  People who will appreciate “Cloud Atlas” are likely those who enjoy stories of fantasy, science fiction or philosophy.  Just know that going into it, you will not see a traditional film designed for a mainstream audience.  No movie has ever been made like this before and probably no movie will ever be made like this ever again.  The problem is that I can’t decide whether or not that is a good thing or a bad thing.  


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