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A multi-stranded tale based on an ‘unfilmable’ book from the directors of The Matrix… Buzz attempts to unravel the year’s most labyrinthine movie.|
Based on David Mitchell’s Booker Prize-nominated novel, Cloud Atlas is an astonishingly ambitious tale that many thought couldn’t be filmed. With six stories mashed up across different eras and genres, featuring actors who switch age, race and gender from tale to tale and are all linked together by karmic connectivity and/or comet-shaped birthmarks, it really is one giant mind-fuck. So, allow Buzz to guide you through Tom Tykwer and the Wachowskis’ epic reincarnation sextet with our handy, er, atlas.
THE PACIFIC JOURNAL OF ADAM EWING, 1849
Who’s in it? Jim Sturgess and a buck-toothed Tom Hanks, mostly.
What’s it about? Young notary Adam Ewing (Sturgess) is crossing the Pacific with Hanks’ nefarious-minded doctor and a stowaway slave who helps set Ewing on the path to…
Everything is connected … enlightenment. Sturgess’ ‘soul’ will eventually transmogrify into that of a 22nd-Century freedom fighter dedicated to ending slavery in dystopian Neo-Seoul. Hanks’ evolutionary journey starts with the murky morality of Dr. Goose…
Different from the book? It’s the story that sticks closest to its origins.
LETTERS FROM ZEDELGHEM, 1936
Who’s in it? Ben Whishaw, Jim Broadbent, James D’Arcy, Halle Berry.
What’s it about? Bisexual musician Robert Frobisher (Whishaw) inveigles himself into the household of past-it composer Vyvyan Ayrs (Broadbent), bedding his white Jewish trophy wife (Berry) and writing the ‘Cloud Atlas Sextet’.
Everything is connected Frobisher is hooked on Ewing’s Pacific Journal and writes letters to his true love Sixsmith (D’Arcy) which are later read by Luisa Rey (Berry, see below).
Different from the book? The sexually carnivorous composer also falls in love with his mentor’s precocious daughter, but her role has been lopped off for the film. Zedelghem, Belgium has also been changed to Scotland.
HALF_LIVES: THE FIRST LUISA
REY MYSTERY, 1973
Who’s in it? Berry, Hanks, D’Arcy, Hugh Grant.
What’s it about? With the aid of rogue employees (Hanks, D’Arcy), San Francisco journalist Luisa Rey uncovers a seismic scandal at a nuclear power plant owned by a crooked tycoon (Grant).
Everything is connected Rey tracks down a copy of the ‘Cloud Atlas Sextet’. Future vanity-press publisher Timothy Cavendish (Broadbent, see below) receives a novel manuscript recounting the story of Luisa Rey.
Different from the book? David Mitchell’s novel implies (via the Cavendish manuscript) that Luisa might, in fact, be fictional. A braintwister too far, even for the Wachowskis.
THE GHASTLY ORDEAL OF
TIMOTHY CAVENDISH, 2012
Who’s in it? Broadbent, Hanks, Grant, Hugo Weaving, Susan Sarandon
What’s it about? When vanity press publisher Cavendish (Broadbent) needs to go into hiding from jailed scumbag author Dermot Hoggins’ (Hanks) cronies, he’s tricked into a nursing-home run by the petrifying Nurse Noakes (Weaving).
Everything is connected Cavendish’s ghastly ordeal is later turned into a film starring Hanks, which ends up inspiring Sonmi-451 (Doona Bae, see below).
Different from the book? In the book, Cavendish has a stroke and needs to piece his mind back together before plotting his escape from Noakes’ hellhole.
AN ORISON OF SONMI_451, 2144
Who’s in it? Donna Bae, Sturgess, D’Arcy.
What’s it about? Sonmi-451 (Bae) is a genetically engineered worker drone who ends up igniting a revolution when she falls in with (and in love with) Hae-Joo Chang (Sturgess).
Everything is connected Sonmi-451 is revered as a goddess by a simple tribe of goatherders in post-apocalyptic Hawaii (see below).
Different from the book? Sturgess’ dashing freedom fighter is an amalgamation of two characters, while the book suggests that Sonmi’s rebel rise is staged by the totalitarian regime.
SLOOSHA’S CROSSIN’ AN’ EV’RYTHIN’
Who’s in it? Hanks, Berry, Weaving,
What’s it about? After a tattooed cannibal (Grant) slaughters his brother-in-law (Sturgess) in post-apocalyptic Hawaii, gutless goatherd Zachry (Hanks) helps visiting out-of-towner Meronym (Berry) in her efforts to save the last vestiges of advanced civilisation.
Everything is connected Zachry is haunted by a green demon (Weaving) who hisses lines at him previously uttered by Dr. Goose, coaxing him to reawaken the killer inside.
Different from the book? Hanks’ shepherd is a teenager in Mitchell’s novel and there’s no romance with Meronym or leap to other planets.