FILM REVIEW: Cloud Atlas

Posted: December 1, 2012 in Film
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

cloudatlas-mv-87I went into Cloud Atlas with no preconceived notions.  My only worry was that the almost three-hour long film would be slow and tedious.  Luckily, my fears were never realized and I walked out of the theater thinking I just saw a mind-bending film.

Brother and (now) sister team, Kurt and Lana Wachowski, and Tom Tykwer, the mastermind behind the German cult-favorite, Run Lola Run, really challenge their audience and make us work to decipher the six storylines that run congruently.  It is hard not to get hung up on trying to figure out which actor is behind the amazing make-up and which character is another character in a different time-period.  But if you stop trying to figure out the spiderweb the directors wove, and really focus on the three prominent narrators and what they are saying, you will realize you are listening to true poetry.

The two things that are most clear are the overarching themes of  love and revolution.  Both transcend time in this film and more than one character says, “Your life is not your own and you are bound by others.”  This is an interesting premise and perhaps because reincarnation is something that most wonder about it becomes easy to take this journey with Tykwer and the Wachowski’s, and suspend reality as you travel through time from 1850 to 1931, to 1975, to modern-day 2012, to the future of 2144 and to another world so far ahead, time is told by “112 winters after the fall.”

The Wachowski’s are most known for their ground-breaking film, The Matrix.  They stamp the scenes in Cloud Atlas that take place in 2144 in Neo Seoul, the new part of Seoul, Korea that is not under water, with a heavy Matrix seal.  But it is only these scenes that make you remember the directors’ previous work.  The other time periods are depicted historically accurate and each one takes on the elements of its location and time.  For example, the journey across the Pacific Ocean during the mid 1800’s is full of color, hope and promise, but the depiction of the 1930’s in Brussels, Belgium is gray and dreary.  There is not one cinematic look, but several.  The directors have created multiple films all wrapped into one.

They even throw in a level of humor throughout the film that was unexpected, but somehow works.  It’s almost as if they are reminding the audience to lighten up, don’t think so hard, and enjoy the ride.  One storyline turns into a farce about four elderly folk who are trying to escape from a nursing home.  They hatch a plan and escape to steal a car, but none of them knows how to start the engine because there is no key-ignition, just a button.  Almost everyone in the theater laughed out-loud and it certainly helped release some of the tension developed in the other nail-biting stories, like the revolution in Neo Soul to end cloning of indentured women and Halle Berry‘s quest to take on the evil proprietors of a nuclear power plant in Northern California.  Maybe the filmmakers are reminding us that life is strange and you often don’t know how it will turn out.

I imagine I will have to see this film a second and even third time, to fully grasp everything being told to me.  But I appreciate a film that makes your brain hurt, that has you coming out of the theater trying to piece it together as if it were a 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle.  Essentially, that is what art is supposed to be.  Film is just another medium where someone can look at it, or in this case watch it, and perhaps conclude what it is about.  The great thing is that there is not one single answer and everyone’s interpretation may differ, but we can all learn from each other’s viewpoints.  If that was the intended goal of the team behind Cloud Atlas they were quite successful.

Advertisements
Comments
  1. V Brooks says:

    Excellent review. Going to watch the movie a second time.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s