Andy and Lena Wachowski are not exactly what you would dub clandestine filmmakers; their projects are always attention-grabbing, even if purely on a visceral level (see: Speed Racer). Judging by their next project – an adaptation of the multi-threaded novel Cloud Atlas – the two remain as ambitious as ever in their pursuits.
The Wachowskis are sharing writing and directing duties on Cloud Atlas with Tom Tykwer, who’s no stranger to tackling intimidating literary pieces – seeing how he helmed the cinematic version of the novel, Perfume: The Story of a Murderer (a book that even the great Stanley Kubrick ultimately decided could not be properly filmed).
Back in January, Natalie Portman indicated that she might be starring in the Cloud Atlas movie, but that no longer looks to be the case. Previously rumored candidates like Halle Berry and Tom Hanks have since been confirmed to star in the film – and now THR has also learned that Hugo Weaving (who was recently confirmed for The Hobbit) and Ben Whishaw (the star of Tykwer’s Perfume adaptation) are officially onboard as well.
Production on Cloud Atlas is expected to begin this fall, which makes it less likely that rumored stars like James McAvoy and Ian McKellen will be joining the cast (due to their already-busy schedules).
It’s also being reported that “each actor in ['Cloud Atlas'] will be playing multiple roles,” so as to draw more overt connections between the six distinct narrative threads of the piece. Weaving should be relatively comfortable with that task, having literally starred opposite himself in the Wachowski’s Matrix sequels.
For those not familiar with David Mitchell’s original novel, Cloud Atlas is composed of six separate storylines that involve:
- A naïve clerk traveling on a Polynesian voyage in the 19th century
- An aspiring (British) composer who takes up residence with a brilliant composer who has syphilis in the 1930s
- A journalist investigating a California nuclear power plant in the 1970s
- A 21st century publisher who gets his hands on a novel that could change the world
- A human clone designed for slave labor in the future
- A Hawaiian tribesman who has survived the apocalypse and recounts aloud the history of the world from a remote island
Each of these stories are written in their own unique fashion in Mitchell’s book; Tykwer and the Wachowskis could potentially imitate that approach by significantly altering the cinematography and editing style of each respective segment in their film adaptation. However, the real trick is finding a way to simplify and connect each separate narrative thread in a way that works in cinematic form (and there’s no obvious solution to that problem).
That said: With an excellent cast assembled so far and some creative talents working behind the scenes, there’s good reason (for now) to think that Cloud Atlas could be something special – and, if nothing else, hopefully a return to form for the Wachowskis.