‘Cloud Atlas’ Images: The Wachowskis & Tom Tykwer Examine the Circle of Life

3 years ago by  

Cloud Atlas was co-written and directed by Matrix duo Andy and Lana Wachowski and Tom Tykwer (The International), who transformed David Mitchell’s prize-winning novel into a cinematic treatise on the cyclic nature of human history and social order. It cost more than $100 million to produce, runs almost 3 hours long, and employs the talent of several A-list character actors and actresses.

The first screenshots from Cloud Atlas have been unveiled, offering an early look at some of the characters being brought to life by people like Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Jim Broadbent (Moulin Rouge!, Harry Potter), and Ben Whishaw (the young ‘Q’ in Skyfall).

Mitchell’s source novel, for those unfamiliar, is composed of six separate storylines that span from the 19th century to a post-apocalyptic future. The first half of the book moves in a linear fashion, as each story partially unfolds before being cut off (by the next in chronological order). However, the second half progresses backwards, culminating with the original 19th-century setting and narrative thread.

It’s an example where the form of storytelling reflects themes of spiritual rebirth and the cyclical nature of human experiences throughout history, as explored in Mitchell’s source material (where characters are implied to be re-incarnations of those in a proceeding story). Hence, members of the Cloud Atlas cast are reused over and over in the film’s separate narrative threads.



Tyker and the Wachowskis challenged their cast to tackle an eclectic (even bizarre, at times) collection of roles in Cloud Atlas. Those characters include: an embittered composer living with syphilis during the 1930s (Broadbent); a Californian journalist investigating misdeeds at a nuclear power plant during the 1970s (Berry); a rare survivor of the global apocalypse (Hanks) – and a cannibalistic tribesman thriving on a remote island (Hugh Grant), among others.

Mainstream appeal might not be in the cards for Cloud Atlas, despite the big-name cast and high production values. The film is nonetheless a daring venture that seems destined to provoke some interesting discussions about how successful (or not) Tykwer and the Wachowskis are in their efforts. Select cinephiles can check it out this upcoming September, when it screens at the Toronto Film Festival.

Cloud Atlas begins a regular theatrical release in the U.S. on October 26th, 2012.


Source: EW

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  1. I agree that this film may not draw in huge crowds and break box office records but I’ll be on line opening day to see it.
    The cast and source material are among the reasons my anticipation for this film is high but mostly I hope that this is a return to promise for the Wachowski siblings.
    I just find it hard to believe The Matrix was the work of one hit wonders. I say only 1 because IMO the sequels were a complete mess and I won’t even start of Speed Racer.
    They’ve shown they have the brains, talent and work ethic to make something great again. So I hope it happens…

    • The first Matrix was good because they ripped off the Invisibles and made it cooler. For the next two I think they mostly came up with original content.

      These guys might be better at doing adaptations with their own spin on it. But then again Speed Racer wasn’t any good. So…

  2. Am I the only person that liked Speed Racer?

  3. Speed Racer is a brilliant movie. It’s considered fashionable in our cynical times to sneer at a labour of love. Gasp! Imagine a movie where a family works together and stays together. Trust me, they’ll be writing thesis papers on Speed Racer long after “Iron Man” has been relegated to the dustbin of cinematic history. Fools.