Souls cross ages like clouds cross skies, and though a cloud’s shape nor hue nor size don’t stay the same, it’s still a cloud and soul is a soul. Who can say where the cloud’s blowed from or who the soul willll be tomorrow?
If there are any films that you hate upon the first viewing, understand upon the next and start loving by the third one Cloud Atlas by The Wachowskis and Tom Tykwer is certainly one of those films. It is based on the 2004 novel Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell. The film is a Sextet of sorts with six stories which take place between the years 1849 and (roughly) 2346.
The official synopsis describes it as “an exploration of how the actions of individual lives impact one another in the past, present and future, as one soul is shaped from a killer into a hero, and an act of kindness ripples across centuries to inspire a revolution.” The actors in the film appear in different roles in different stories. Which hints that each one is a vessel to its individual soul traveling from one lifetime to the other.
The ensemble cast is utilised in astonishingly well in an assortment of characters. The intricacy of the makeup is simply mind boggling. It is difficult to tell whether you are looking at Tom Hanks or Hugh Grant. And after a time you are trying to get a grasp of the story to such an extent that you don’t even bother. The makeup gives us a strong reason to believe that the characters are reincarnated souls.
Some actors have taken up the roles in which you have never seen them before. And probably you never will except in this film. There is an awesome article about the 5 weird characters in the film which you should probably read.
What sometimes bothers me about the film is that the structure is completely messed up. Sometimes, non-linear storytelling gives you the leverage to give reasons to a person’s actions in an even more effective manner. Over here, it simply complicated things a lot. If you are not really making an effort to watch the film, you won’t really end up leaving the theaters. The book on the other hand is linear. I haven’t read the book but for me, that structure would’ve worked a lot better.
There have been reviews ranging from calling it a total disaster and crowning it as the best film of 2012. All of these from eminent personalities and film geniuses. The film is listed on various Best Film and Worst Film lists. Ultimately it is upon you and the kind of narrative that appeals the best to your senses. Some may call it ahead of its time. Some may even consider that it is utter nonsense to waste your time on. And making a film so ambitious is an achievement in itself!