Everything is connected. Actions in the past impact lives in the future. Souls of those who came before are reborn in the future. Imagine life having a ripple effect that lasts for centuries. That is just the tip of what Cloud Atlas explores, both in the original novel by David Mitchell, and now in the film adaptation from filmmakers Lana Wachowski, Tom Tykwer, and Andy Wachowski.
“The scale of its ideas is what we were instantly attracted to, its compassion for human beings, its boldness and audacity and the way it felt simultaneously classic and yet completely new,” says Lana Wachowski.
The Wachowksi’s are familiar with taking on broad stories with deeper meanings and bigger questions than many of us will ever attempt to contemplate in our lifetime, and yet are relevant to what we’re experiencing in our every day lives. The Matrix trilogy brought out themes of social destruction within a technically advanced world, with hints of the philosophical and religious. V for Vendetta, based on the comic book, is believed by some to take on oppression of government, toying with the idea of a revolution, while telling the story of a freedom fighter out for revenge. But Cloud Atlas could possibly be the film, from all three directors, that brings to light more themes about life and death and all that comes between than has ever been presented on screen. And it does so with six separate stories, and an all-star cast taking on roles within each of them.
But as Andy Wachowski points out, it’s not so much a series of stories in one film, but a collection of moments that are intertwined through history.
“The key is to abandon the idea that it’s six stories. It’s one,” he says. “Each of the pieces and time periods reflects upon the others throughout the movie. As all these souls evolve, you see the connections between them, and follow their chronologic progress.”
Ambitious is a common word that can be used to describe Cloud Atlas. And with an almost three hour running time, you certainly get your fill of epic and adventurous storytelling. But it will be the characters, above everything else, that will capture your attention and emotion.
“It’s a wildly entertaining piece of storytelling,” says star Tom Hanks. “Take what you will from it. There’s never a moment when the camera is not capturing some spectacular stunt or human emotion. When I read the screenplay, it initially raised questions about who these people are, and then their connections became evident. Their artistic struggles, their fights for survival and the choices that bridge one life to the next also became evident and I was completely involved. It’s a perfect blending of David Mitchell’s story and the cinematic power of our three directors—a brilliant piece of cinematic literature that examines the connectivity of the human race through time.”
Jake Hamilton from Houston’s Fox 26 and “Jake’s Takes” sat down with Hanks, along with co-star Halle Berry, in Los Angeles to get more insight into such a complex film.