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Friday, 8 March 2013

CLOUD ATLAS. FILM.

The novel that this film is based on is a work of extraordinary breadth of imagination. It consists of six different stories, though all linked through the themes, characters and other ancillary details, like birthmarks. The scope of the narratives is really breath-taking, and the links between them transform the book from just a collection of stories into a real, though unconventional, whole.


The basic theme of the book - and this theme has been retained in the movie - is the strong oppressing the weak, the weak fighting back against this tyranny. It is in every story, though treated in a variety of ways. Slavery and freedom, bondage and liberty. You have these two poles right the way through the film, and the conflict between them is at the centre of the narrative..


What the Wachowskis and Tom Tykwer - the directors of the film - have done, very cleverly, is to cinematize the literary version of the story. The visuals are impressive, the makeup is dodgy in parts but spectacular in others, the directors seem more at home with the sci-fi stories but manage them all well.

Where they really succeed though, is in the construction of the narrative.In the book the stories are sequential, you read one, then the next, then the next, whereas the film does a Magnolia and splits the stories up, tells a snapshot of one, and then another, and then another, and so on, so it feels like all the narratives are progressing together. They all reach a conclusion more or less at the same time, so there is this slow, relentless build-up towards a climax. If you can follow what's happening - and having read the book helps - it is a thrilling experience.

I was riveted from the very first scene. It was almost three hours long, but didn't seem half that. I thought it was entrancing. Yes some bits of the book were glossed over, perhaps some of the stories weren't concluded fully, even in three hours there is not enough time to fit everything in. Despite that I found the slow progression of each story, the interlinking of the narratives, the style of editing where actions that took place in one story were immediately mirrored in another, the visual beauty of the film, all of this was a feast for the eyes, the brain, the emotions. A really remarkable piece of cinema.

4 comments:

  1. Loved the book. Can't even imagine wanting to see the movie.

    Thoughts on Ghostwritten?

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  2. Ghostwritten for me was more experimental, and more disjointed. Less successful though interesting. Though in the right hands it could make an interesting film too.

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  3. Loved the book and the movie and agree splitting up the stories worked really well, I liked the way the same actors popped up in each story, Hugh Grant and Tom Hanks were unrecognizable in some roles.

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  4. Yeah that was fun too, trying to spot who was who. Looking at the cast after, Halle Berry was actually a man in one story, which I missed completely.

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