Movie Review — Cloud Atlas

by Ryan on October 27, 2012

in Anything Else,Pop Culture,Religion

The buzz over the film Cloud Atlas is that you will have a love-hate attitude towards this book-to-film adaptation by the Wachowski’s (the brain children of the Matrix).  Some even considered the source book “unfilmable.”  Nonetheless, Cloud Atlas has an all-star cast and seems to have a novel and ambitious plot line.  So, I had to check it out for myself.  Here’s the trailer:

How to describe Cloud Atlas?  In short, there are six separate story lines interspersed in more of a thematic than chronological way, so that one gets the sense that each person goes through different lives at different times enduring teleological experiences.  You kind of have to see it to fully get it.  Plus, don’t dare get up to use the bathroom — you’ll be lost!

There’s plenty for the pop culture to take from this film:  gay love, brutal violence, nudity and sex, and an homage to we’re-all-in-this-togetherness.  I didn’t need the explicit violence and the sex scene didn’t seem necessary to show that those two characters love each other.  Clean-up that and a few F-bombs and this movie is PG-13.  The film also implies the reincarnation of the soul in its premise;  that we live again and again using experiences from our past lives to impact our futures;  that a serious act of kindness in 1849 can lay the spiritual foundation which will impact the soul of a person fomenting a revolution in 2144.  It sounds wacky, but it works in the film.  The main actors also play different characters across the different storylines to help the viewer keep track — you will appreciate this.

There is a common theme in everyone’s life that repeats over and over again — that of the conflict between the weak and powerful;  liberty and tyranny.  The human soul longs for freedom in every storyline, but powerful forces are getting in the way every time.  That struggle manifests in different ways in different times, but it’s always there and must be.  Sometimes people succeed, most of the time they don’t, but the yearning remains.

Cloud Atlas clocks in at about 2:45 and will get you thinking.  At the end of the day, I’m not sure what to grade this film.  It’s just that kind of film — unique and ambitious, but sometimes disparate and ambiguous.  It’s likely in the B range, but I’ll definitely need to see it again to pick up all the subtleties strewn throughout.

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