The Wachowskis will return to theaters in a big way this fall with their blockbuster adaptation of David Mitchell’s time-spanning novel, Cloud Atlas. The book chronicles human experience and interconnectivity across six time periods that stretch from the 19th and 20th centuries, to the distant (and not so distant) future – with characters who appear in (sometimes wildly) different forms as reincarnated versions of themselves. If that sounds like one hell of a challenging story to translate to the screen, rest assured that it was.

The Cloud Atlas extended trailer provided a look at the spectacular visual composition of the film, as imagined by The Wachowskis (who created the Matrix trilogy) and their collaborator, Tom Tykwer (Run Lola Run). Today, we have two dozen new images from the film, which show us the various characters from the different eras of the story, with headlining actors like Tom Hanks and Halle Berry undergoing some radical transformations to play their multiple roles.

Given the complexity of the source material, general audiences are likely going to need a helping-hand in order to keep everything straight. While Cloud Atlas follows a very clear and well-constructed thematic through line – about love, death, fate, etc. – the details (like time periods and character names) are sure to get muddled along the way. With that in mind, we’re here to help organize things for you.

TIME PERIODS

The Cloud Atlas novel focuses on the following six epochs and locations:

  1. 19th Century Pacific region – A young man’s account of a voyage to New Zealand that includes conflict between slavers and an indigenous tribe.
  2. 1930s Belgium – A young musician encounters an aging composer afflicted with a disease.
  3. 1970s California – A journalist investigates a death and possible corruption at a nuclear power plant.
  4. 21st Century UK – A publisher tries to flee from some gangsters and is forcibly confined to a nursing home.
  5. Nea So Copros (Futuristic Korea) – A clone rebels against the society that has enslaved her kind.
  6. Post-apocalyptic Hawaii – A primitive tribesman is visited by the member of a technologically-advanced civilization.

CHARACTERS IMAGES

Now take a look at the gallery of Cloud Atlas character images:

 Below, you’ll find a breakdown of who is playing which character, listed in order of their 1st appearance in the gallery.

CHARACTER/ACTOR BREAKDOWN

  • Tom Hanks (Dr. Henry Goose / Isaac Sachs / Dermot ‘Duster’ Hoggins / Valleysman Zachry)
  • Jim Sturgess (Adam Ewing / Hae-Joo Im)
  • David Gyasi (Autua)
  • Jim Broadbend (Vyvyan Ayrs / Timothy Cavendish)
  • Halle Berry (Jocasta Crommelynk / Luisa Rey / Meronym)
  • Ben Whisaw (Robert Frobisher)
  • James D’Arcy (Rufus Sixsmith/Asian Character)
  • Hugo Weaving (Bill Smoke/Female character/Asian Character/Tribesman)
  • Keith David (Joe Napier)
  • Doona Bae (Sonmi~451 a Clone)
  • Hugh Grant (Alberto Grimaldi / Cannibal)
  • Susan Sarandon (Ursula)

For a little game, see if you can match each character image to one of the six time periods listed above. HINT: The trailer below will help you.

There are some other cameos – such as a possible one from David Mitchell – and surprises in store, but for now, hopefully this list will help you get your head around the convoluted tale and characters of the film. Tom Hanks certainly looks to be opening his usual trademark persona to a whole range of character types, both good and evil – while Halle Berry is apparently beautiful in any time period or race you put her in. On the whole, the makeup and costume work for the film looks to be as spectacular as the visuals. We could be looking at a serious return to form for the Wachowskis (after the debacle of Speed Racer).

Cloud Atlas will be in theaters on October 26, 2012.

Source: Cloud Atlas Official Site (via Collider)