I watched Cloud Atlas over the last night and this afternoon. Cloud Atlas is a German science fiction drama film written, produced and directed by Lana and Andy Wachowski and Tom Tykwer. The movie is based on the 2004 novel of the same name by David Mitchell and has 6 different plotlines set in six different time eras. The movie spent 4 years in development at a budget of $102 million and and was released on October 26, 2012. The cast is a stellar line up of Tom Hands, Halle Berry, Jim Broadbent, Hugo Weaving, Jim Sturgess, South Korean actress Doona Bae, Keith David and smaller roles by Susan Sarandon & Hugh Grant.
How to start telling this story that is interlinked & interconnected in one way or the other? It is easier to separate the sections and tell the story. The first & set in the oldest era is in the year 1849 where Adam Ewing, an American lawyer has come to do some business for his father-in-law Haskell Moore. Ewing is appalled at the public whipping of an African slave Autua, who later stoves away on the ship in which Ewing is traveling back to the US. Ewing feeds the slave and gets him a job as a sailor on the boat. However Dr. Henry Goose slowly poisons Ewing, claiming it to be the cure for a parasitic worm, aiming to steal Ewing’s box of goal coins. Autua saves Ewing before he can be given a fatal doseage by Dr. Goose and recovers with the help of his new friend. Once back home, he and his wife reject her father’s businesses that deals with slavery and go off to join the Slavery Abolishment Movement.
The next section is set in 1936 as Cambridge student Robert Frobrisher, a bisexual English musician, leaves his university to work under the employment of the elderly composer Vyvyan Ayrs and to also work on his own compositions. Frobrisher compose his masterpiece The Cloud Atlas sextet while in Ayrs house and to his dismay Ayrs wishes to take credit for Frobisher’s work, and threatens to expose his scandalous background if he resists, which would mean that no one would want to listen to his work. After reading part of Ewing’s journals, Frobrisher shoots Ayrs and flees to a hotel where he finishes his work on the sextant and shoots himself dead, just before his lover Rufus Sixsmith reaches the hotel. Many years later, 1973 to be exact, an much older Sixsmith, who is a nuclear physicist meets journalist Luisa Rey and confides in her about a conspiracy regarding the safety of a new nuclear reactor run by rich businessman Lloyd Hooks. Sixsmith is killed by an assassin sent by Hooks before he could share a report proving this conspiracy to her, however another scientist Issac Sachs meets Rey and sends her a bunch of Sixsmith’s files including a copy of the report. Sachs is soon killed in an explosion while Rey is run off the road into the sea but she escapes and with the help of the nuclear plant’s head of security, Joe Napier (who happened to be a friend of Rey’s father) she evades the assassin and uses the report to exspose the plot to use a nuclear accident for the benefit of oil companies. She also reads a bunch of letters that Frobisher wrote to Sixsmith in the latter’s files.
The 4th section is set in London in our present, 2012, where 65 year old publisher Timothy Cavendish attends a party where his gangster author whose book he has published, murders a critic and is sent to jail. The gangster’s goons hassle Cavendish for the profits from the book, which he has already spent. So he goes to his brother Denny for help. Denny, carrying a grudge against his brother for sleeping with his wife, tricks Cavendish into hiding in a ‘hotel”, which is actually a nursing home where he is held against his will, but Cavendish escapes with the help of 3 elderly friends he made in the place. This is the most comedic of the 6 sections which is really funny. A little later Cavendish receives a manuscript of a novel based on Rey’s life and writes a screenplay about his own story in the home. We then go to 2144 in Neo Seoul, Korea where a Sonmi-451, a genetically-engineered fabricant or clone, server at a fast food restaurant is inspired by a fellow clone to dodge the expected servitude. Sonmi is released from her compliant life of servitude by Commander Hae-Joo Chang, a member of a rebel movement known as “Union”. The two begin a love affair and watch a movie based on Cavendish’s life. When she finds out that rebellious fabricants like her are killed and “recycled” into food for future fabricants, make a public broadcast of her story and says that the system of society based on slavery and exploitation of fabricants is intolerable. Chang is killed in a fight and Sonmi is captured and executed by the government after an interrogation.
Finally we got to 2321 in which after more than a century of what is suggested as a major world war & holocaust, Zachary lives in a small village in the valley in a primitive society that worships idols of Sonmi. Most of humanity has died Zachry is plagued by hallucinations of a figure called “Old Georgie” who manipulates him into giving in to his fear, and he watched scared as his friend & a young boy are killed by the cannibalistic Kona tribe. With medicines from Meronym, a member of the “Prescients” – a society holding on to remnants of technology from before the Holocaust, Zachary’s neice Katkin is cured and as repayment, Zachry agrees to guide Meronym into the mountains in search of Cloud Atlas, a communications station where she is able to send a message to Earth’s colonies on other planets. At the station, Meronym reveals that Sonmi was a mortal and not a deity as the Valley tribes believe. When Zachary returns home he finds the Kona has decimated his village but Katkin has survived and Meronym helps him escape the returning Kona, and they leave earth for one of the colonies in a giant spaceship along with the rest of the Prescients. The epilogue & prologue scenes are of an old Zachary telling this story to his grandchildren at the of which an older Meronym, his wife, comes to greet him.
The movie can get very confusing and one might lose interest here and there. I do appreciate the movie but it feels a little bit disoriented & uneven with the scenes changing from various eras. However I still liked it enough to give it a 7.5 outta 10!