Cloud(ed) Atlas

32 thoughts on “Cloud(ed) Atlas”

  1. Gotta admit I had no idea the film was based off a book but then again I wasn’t really planning to see it… your review does make me want to check the book out though

    1. I really think you should. I haven’t seen the film yet and I’m currently reading the book (almost finished) and I love it. There are parts I’ve found a little slow or questionable in terms of plot but on the whole it is a very good book. The theme of a world decaying is incredible to read. The character development is very impressive since each story is relatively short and I found the way the writing style altered according to which plot line it followed really well done.

  2. As I was reading your review I had a stirring, then you said this: —“it felt like I was now watching the “cliff notes” version–some bare essentials to help me get by and string together a coherent thesis, but not much more.”— and it became deja vu’. I’m wondering if the problem here is the Wachowski’s and their choice of material. I suspect they engage with great works that resonate with them, like Baudrillard’s work, but this work doesn’t make for easy movie making. I’m impressed by their tastes but Baudrillard himself was clear that the Matrix was a good try but, sorry, they didn’t get it quite right. It sounds like they had a similar stumble here. Initially I was going to say at the very worst they’ve made us aware of what sounds like a magnificent book. But perhaps the “face-play” is… worse.

  3. My disinterest in seeing the movie has been reconfirmed. Though I might (out of sheer curiosity) see if someone has posted side-by-side comparisons of each actor’s recreated faces.

    On the other hand, you certainly have peaked my interest in the book. 🙂

  4. I just started the book because I was interested in the movie, and I like it so far. The Wachowski brothers can be really great sometimes (and I even think Speed Racer was underrated!) But they get their hands full too easily. Thanks for the review.

  5. Thanks for sharring about Mitchell! Did you know that Mitchell’s first novel, Ghostwritten, won the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize (for best work of British literature written by an author under 35)? Amazing!

  6. I still would like to see the movie because I believe the idea of reincarnation and the idea of meeting the very same people in multiples lives is pretty close to the mark when it comes to universal, spiritual truth. Just my opinion.

  7. i’ve been getting layzeeeur & … seein’ mooveez rather than read a book (it’s a thing about time — i ain’t got a whole lot of “spare”). you’ve re-affirmed my desire to see the movie, tho. thanks! (plus i got the added attraxion of your combined book/moovy review)

  8. Thank you for this review, and especially about referencing and pointing us to I gave you a shout out of thanks on my blog Is it weird that I still kind of want to see “Cloud Atlas”, if only to marvel at how horrible the yellowface is? Le sigh. Thanks again.

  9. Loved the book so I’m disappointed that they haven’t managed to maintain the excellence of the book in making the movie. I will probably go to the movie though now because you have piqued my curiosity.

  10. I want to read the book, but haven’t gotten to it yet. I made the mistake of going to see the movie, BAD IDEA! I really want to read the book now, because there’s no way that the book could be more confusing than the movie. I’m actually glad to hear that you were confused too, cause I was completely lost lol!

  11. I hadn’t read or even really heard of the book, but I thought the movie was pretty terrible. I might can get behind the ‘everyone is connected’ theme if the race and gender bending didn’t seem like it was undercutting it at every turn.

    It also didn’t help that the plot for most of the stories was forgettable and borderline dull. I would’ve loved to of seen more of the future world, but what we got were a loose collection of allusions to something more interesting. Overall, the only two stories I felt any investment in were the one with the publisher in the nursing home and the love story involving the composer. Other storylines had their moments, but those were the only ones I wanted to see to their end.

  12. The facial prosthetics drove me nuts. Completely took me out of the story. I also didn’t buy Bae Doona as a freckled redhead. I think if they wanted to pull the reborn/race card, they should have chosen actors whose appearance is a little more median and would have required less “Hollywood magic”.
    After seeing the movie, part of me wants to read the book so I can get some closure with some of these story lines.

  13. I so wanted to love the movie, but came away confused. There were so many things to like and with a cast as worthy as this ensemble, it seems like it should have been . . .more comprehensible. I initially thought the connective tissue has been left on the cutting room floor. Then a niggling suspicion would not let me go and I looked it up, to discover that there was a book upon which it was based, and it was indeed, a complicated storyline. The film was lush and violent and amazing, to be sure. But in the post-apocalyptic future, why, oh WHY do they speak gibberish? I’m a fairly smart girl and even boast an MFA, so arty things are sort of my bag, but for the life of me, I couldn’t understand what Hanks and Berry were saying in that paganistic future world. In this viewer’s humble opinion, the adaptation was overwrought and overthought.

    BTW: I do not agree that cinema and literature are opposing art forms. As an example of a beautifully wrought interpretation, I would point to Sherman Alexie’s “Smoke Signals” which was adapted from his story “What it Means to Say Phoenix Arizona.”

    1. I must preface this with the fact that I have not seen the movie yet, but when referring to the future of gibberish-speak… I really do believe that is the future, for two reasons. One is that as we evolve in terms of telepathic skills, there will be less need for vocabulary, and the second is more sinister – the technology now makes people use fewer words. Average vocabulary in the US has shrunk from 200,000 words in 1960 to 40,000 as of 2000… can’t imagine what it is now. -‘tarotworldtour’

      1. well, mr whirled tour: as you prob’ly remember, THAT is/was one of the premises of “1984” — by limiting vocabulary (e.g., remove “bad” replace with “un-good”) thereby people’s “range of thought” was narrowed, thereby lessening crime. or something like that.

  14. I saw the movie without reading the book. It took me a few minutes to figure it out and I liked it. The idea of lifetimes being connected is not new but nice to see in the mainstream mediums.

  15. I saw the movie without reading the book, and I admit that it took me a while to get into it, and I was confused at first, but by the middle, I was emotionally engaged (especially in the New Seoul story) and I just *got it.* My opinion is that you were too stuck on the prosthetics not looking accurate enough, or that the race/gender transformations sometimes didn’t look accurate….but that wasn’t the point. The point is that race and gender and time and place – it’s all relative, and there is more similarity than there is difference between it all. Indeed, I am willing to guess that you didn’t catch all of the race/gender transformations watching it the first time around, and that proves my point.
    I thought it was beautifully done overall.

  16. Excellent piece and review, from what I can tell. I think so many people were excited about this film that they assume people can make the associations like they can after having read the book.

    That description of 22nd century Seoul sounds not that far off from how it is now. The only form of expression in South Korea is through your purchasing and it is a dystopic corporate state in so many ways. You can see how their “bots” work here on WordPress, placing several of their bands in the Top Ten in an English site… strange. -‘’

  17. I hear you on the disconnect, my sister told me it’s a fantastic enthralling read. Interested in seeing the movie though… may do the movie first to knock out the confusion. Great review!

  18. I saw the movie yesterday – but had not read the book. My opinion is that the movie ultimately failed, but it sure tried hard. Too hard, perhaps. Movies and books are different; I never expect a movie to exactly follow a book. Perhaps if they had dropped a few of the lesser story lines it would have been possible to get more understanding of ones left. I think they could have gone with the 19th century, the early 20th century, and the far future – and had Sonmi only in flashback. As it was presented, the 3 hours felt really, really long and while I had no problem following any of the stories, I never got interested in any of them much.

    The makeup was Okay – it worked for what it was supposed to do in advancing the ‘we are all connected’ part, but yeah, it sure looked wrong in some cases. The part I found wincingly, searingly bad was that the supposed deep message of interconnectedness delivered by Sonmi was Hallmark-card shallow “We are all one from womb to tomb” had me choking back laughter.

    I give the film makers credit; I’d still rather see a movie that fails for trying to do something too big that one that is bad for lack of trying; but overall it was a hot mess.

  19. Gah! 80 likes and 30 comments! This freshly pressed thing is bananas! A late post, but thanks all for reading and liking–or disagreeing–with my review. No way I am going to answer all of these, so just a few quick bits. First, I realize you can’t always compare a film to a book, but I also believe if you’re translating to a new medium you should at the least “do no harm;” my quibbles thus were not with the many deviations from the text, but rather what I found to be a muddled translation for the screen. Second, I’m a fan of the Wachowskis, so went in here hoping to be dazzled and was disappointed; realize part of the problem was again this problem of translation: perhaps some books need to remain on the two-dimensional page. Third, please don’t take my review as a reason not to see the film; really liked hearing perspectives of those who saw it. Lastly, yeah, read the book if you can; it’s worth it.

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